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Elementary Homeschool Tips

Read these 16 Elementary Homeschool Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Home School tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Exactly what is social studies and how might I incorporate it into my homeschool curiculum?

The Homeschool Social Studies Program

Social studies is a classification tool used by everyone to identify the study of different societies. When students are actively studying a social studies unity, they are learning about the world around them. The unit could include a study of their homes, families, communities and the world.

In an independent study of social studies, a student will learn to empathize and understand another person's needs. Many historical biological reports and biographies are considered both historical and social studies in nature. As both are historical records of people's lives, hobbies, lifestyles and ways of life, the line between history and social studies is a very thin one. Where history discusses places and times, social studies is all about the people.

A social studies unit is intended to help children see that even though people might look different or talk different, deep down we are all the same. Some areas of social studies deal with different cultures while others deal with learning about rules, regulations and responsibilities of people to one another.

Bonus tip: Social studies is a great format in which to introduce career week. Teacher and students travel to local businesses to observe how they operate their business, see different occupational possibilities and participate in a job shadow activity.

Science seems so boring to me but I want to "spice" it up so that my children will enjoy it. Do you have any ideas?

Make Science Come Alive

Children love to explore with scientific concepts in a hands-on format. Allowing your children to actively create, investigate and observe a scientific process is the best method to increase understanding and appreciation of science.

When you begin a science project with your children, it is important that you use scientific terms. While these words are generally three syllables, most children can try to use them in real-life applications during the course of your experiments. Children love big words -- and they love them even more when they understand their meaning and can use them properly.

As you discuss the scientific process, explain that you expect your children to think outside of the obvious when asking questions or investigating their scientific experiment. Explain how different pieces work independently of one another and then define the objective of the experiment. As you prepare your list of materials, have the children hypothesize about what will happen at the conclusion of the scientific experiment.

Remember that the homeschool classroom environment plays a very important part in the overall feel of your scientific experience; so, if possible, create a science area that is specifically dedicated to scientific supplies, magnifying glasses, microscopes and other scientific data and resources. Purchase books about chemistry, science, famous scientists and other scientific decorations to make this area appear special and different from the rest of the homeschool classroom. The more exciting you make science sound, look and feel within your classroom, the more excited your students will be about it.

Between Phonics and Whole Language Learning, which program offers the best success for a struggling reader?

Phonetics or Whole Language?

In the 1990s there were many arguments over which method of language learning was more valuable: phonics or whole language. While the debates rattled many college walls, the consensus is that both methodologies work well for two very different types of learners.

Phonics is the understanding of how letters combine to create words and sounds. Whole language is a balanced reading and writing program that promotes word recognition rather than the sounding out of the individual letter and then blending them together to create a word. Today, most classrooms begin with the child learning the sounds of the consonants and vowels and then sounding out the letters in mixed combinations to create words. Simultaneously the child also learns to recognize certain “site” words that increase in difficulty as he ascends in grade levels.

The phonics curriculum experienced bad press in the 1990s, but today it is an integral part of the public school curriculum. As an elementary homeschool teacher, teach your children both methods of reading so that they can adapt to the method that works best for them.

I have finally committed to homeschooling my children and now I am terrified, What if I fail?

The First-Day Fears of a Novice Homeschool Mom

The time has arrived for you to implement the homeschool program you and your family chose. Some time after you decided to homeschool, you felt the panic rush into your brain: “Can I teach my kids anything successfully?”

Many parents experience of rush of exhilaration mixed with fear about their first day of homeschooilng, the moment when it becomes a reality that the kids are not going to go to school anywhere else today or any other day. Today you are their teacher.

The first and most important thing to do is assess your children so that you have something to measure their performance at the end of the year. You need to evaluate and determine how your children learn and how you are going to teach to each child. You will need to know who needs more supervision and who can work independently.

Once the basics are covered, you will begin to go over the curriculum with your children. Establish a schedule and daily routine almost immediately and stick to it. Children need and appreciate routine.

I am a Christian but I wonder is it really necessary to purchase a Christian based elementary curriculum

Spiritual Growth in the Elementary Years

If your family is shopping for a Christian-based homeschool curriculum, it is important to research the different companies available and ensure you get a program that fits into your family's faith structure, academic goals and personal learning style.

Textbooks, workbooks, quality manipulatives, educational games and other academic materials need to be top-notch to enhance your child's education. Ones with a world view will prepare your children to be good citizens and care for people of all racial and cultural backgrounds.

Since most young children are unable to grasp abstract concepts, trying to explain to a young child that people all over the world live very different lives from the ones we enjoy here can be very difficult. Look for a curriculum that extends each child's awareness of his or her own place in the world.

I am trying to create new and innovative thematic units for my homeschool elementary student, any ideas?

Nutrition Homeschool Unit

Elementary homeschool curriculum can be created through the use of many different mediums. Why not make one about food? A thematic unit on nutrition is appropriate and educational on many different levels. The language arts concepts can be explored through the writing of recipes, reading of cookbooks, planning menus and studying the food pyramid. Your child could do an online research project for different fast food restaurants, gathering information about a variety of different menu items from various locations.

These items could then be broken down into their specific nutritional values, which could become a math unit on comparison and contrasting for healthy guidelines. Exploring the differences in fat value, calories, sodium and other classification teaches the child to read food labels, apply healthy guidelines to food choices and to identify a healthy meal all based on percentages and number comparisons.

A fabulous way to experience science for a child is to make homemade bread, butter and ice cream. The scientific interactions that take place while making these three food items are easy to explain, visible to watch and provide for a great snack when you and your child are done.

My son hates writing, is there a way I can create a curricular unit that makes writing both fun and exciting?

Children's Picture Book Read-Alouds

Every elementary homeschool program must contain a unit that discusses how to teach writing, and hopefully it inspires the young child to want to learn how to write well. Many children don't realize how important writing skills are; they view writing as an assignment verses a life skill that will be used on a daily basis.

One way to remove the perceived drudgery of writing assignments is to move the concepts of writing from abstract to concrete. Young children have a difficult time comprehending abstract concepts and will often disregard them entirely because they are confused.

Children's picture books are a great resource to use when discussing important writing topics such as setting, plot, character and story organization (beginning, middle and end). Children can listen and observe as a picture book is read-aloud; simultaneously the child can be processing the concrete writing steps of story creation.

As you begin your writing unit, be sure to have a variety of different books that explore and explain the different aspects of story creation. If you are unsure what to use, ask a librarian for suggestions. Her list will get you started and then you can supplement your choices with favorite books from home or purchase those you want to keep in your homeschool library.

My children are very confused about the concepts of money, is there an easy way to teach them this life skill?

What's the Value of Money?

Young children often have a terrible time remembering the value of money. Logistically it does not make sense. How does the value of a coin or dollar bill have anything to do with toys, games, food or anything else Mommy and Daddy bring home? There is no justification beyond memorization to learning what the different money values are for each coin and bill.

In your homeschool elementary school, a money unit is beneficial to children of all ages. However, if your child struggles with money, it might be a good idea to initially set him down with a jar of coins and let him investigate. There are many different money books and curriculum on the market to help facilitate your child's comprehension, but a bit of hands-on study at home will help facilitate an understanding.

Another great extension is to collect a number of different items from around your house and gather them into one spot. Make sure that some of the items can be purchased and others cannot use pictures to express friendship, love and other emotional qualities that cannot be purchased. Have your children identify which can be bought and that which cannot. Children often the concept that money can buy anything they want, so explain how this is not possible.

Bonus tip: As a way to relax and still continue the learning process, there is a fun money game that you can play with children to open up a discussion about the differences in coins. You will need a penny, nickel, dime and quarter. Put the coins on a table and look at them together. Discuss how the coins are alike and how they are different. Once you have discussed each of the coins, tell your child that you are thinking of a specific coin and he or she has to guess which one of the four it is. Offer different specific clues until your child guesses correctly.

Then switch and let your child choose a coin. This game is effective for helping younger children learn to recognize coins, learn their names and work on problem-solving skills.

I would love to think of unique ways to incorporate nature into my everyday homeschool curriculum.

The Great Outdoors

Helping your children connect with nature is a wonderful way to incorporate language arts, mathematics, science and social studies into one study unit. After all, c hildren love to walk and investigate outside. Use the simple discoveries made during the daily walk to make comparison and contrasting charts, classify insects, identify and press flowers, count wildlife and keep a nature journal.

If you have the time, incorporate art into the unit by giving each child colored pencils and a sketchbook. Grades two and three often study seeds and plants in the public school curriculum, but as a homeschool teacher, you can choose to include these life skills in your curriculum at any time and extend your outdoor study unit into yet another direction.

When teaching your children about seeds and plants, you can teach them the term “hypothesis" and show them how to create observing and recording charts to use as they monitor the growth of their potted seeds.

If your family is planning on planting a garden in the spring, have your children work on creating a garden blue print. Prior to buying any garden seeds or supplies, have the children research “companion planting” so that they can determine which plants grow better next to one another and which should be on opposite ends of the garden. Once the blueprint for the garden is done, use mathematics to determine its actual size and the width and lenghth of rows. Giving your children a real life situation is a lesson they won't forget.

Is the number of families that homeschool increasing?

Homeschool Families

When deciding to homeschool their children, many families are concerned about the lack of socialization opportunities for their children. T he dilemma of whether or not their children should participate in the public or private school arena is not always an easy one to make.

Some parents believe that homeschools produce adults who are ill prepared for “real life,” a stigma attached to homeschool programs since they began. However, there are many socialization opportunities for homeschool children in support groups, co-ops and age related-clubs for children.

What's a good way to read to my child?

Making a Reading Space

Reading is so important during the elementary school years. Help your child understand just how special reading time is by working together to organize a cozy place.

Great big floor pillows and a soft rug are a wonderful way to get comfortable for a great story. And, if you always keep some books by those pillows, I bet your student will wander back there on his or her own to read.

Does free play off enough physical activity for elementary school students?

Physical Education for Elementary Homeschooling

No elementary homeschool program should be without a vigorous physical education and recess program. The regular outdoor play that children partake in:

• Contributes to cardiovascular health
• Teaches fundamental motor skills (such as hopping, skipping and jumping)
• Helps them to develop stamina and flexibility
• Helps young children relive stress

Research has shown that free play alone does not provide the level of activity your child needs to reach on a regular basis, so it's a good idea to add activities like a brisk walk, jogging, bike riding or skating to the mix.

How can I teach kids who like to be on the go?

Elementary Homeschool Field Trips

Field trips provide elementary school students with an exciting learning experience—one your child will surely remember. The types of field trips you can take are as wonderful as they are varied. Try some of these ideas:

• The zoo
• A nature preserve
• A local factory
• A printing press
• An historic cemetery or church
• A farm

Almost anyplace can be made into an educational experience that relates to one subject or another. Sometimes it takes no more organization than to get in the car and go. For other trips, you'll need to make some advance arrangements. Even local businesses will be flattered and happy to show you around at a slow time.

Is a group homeschool project a good idea?

An Elementary Homeschool Play

Let's put on a play! If you live in a community where there are several homeschooling families, why not pick a play and produce it? Choose something from literature, or history and make accompanying costumes and scenery. It's a wonderful way to teach students not only about theatre, but also to allow them to:

• Practice memorization
• Understand emotions within literature
• Understand context
• Learn about time-appropriate dress and surroundings
• Cooperating with others in a group

How can I lesson distractions from teaching?

An Elementary Homeschool Tip for Children With ADD

Elementary aged children with ADD and ADHD pose special issues for any teacher. If you are homeschooling a spirited child, you can really make a difference in their learning by simply eliminating distractions and giving them choices.

When choosing a spot for the child to sit, don't pick one by a distraction (like the window) or the urge to pay attention to what is going on elsewhere will be too great. Instead, choose a few spots that you find appropriate and then give your elementary school student an option of choosing one of the places you've pre-determined.

I am new to homeschooling, how should I begin our elementary school program?

Enjoying Elementary Homeschooling with Your Child

Elementary-aged children have so many questions. Their curious nature is the driving force behind their desire to learn, and providing direction and guidance at this time in your young child's life will inspire life-long learning.

To encourage your child to be enthusiastic about learning, approach elementary homeschool with a spirit of excitement, fun and a sense of mystery. For the youngest of learners, the discovery of a new bug can lead to an entire science and language arts unit on insects, guided by research work, spelling of scientific and common bug names, and habitat and lifestyle habits. Each exercise will create an extensive knowledge of vocabulary words, factual data, research skills and general life skills.

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Guru Spotlight
Heidi Splete