As this year is winding down and I'm getting ready to attend the Homeschool Conference at the end of the month, my thoughts are beginning to turn to next school year! I need to know what I am looking for and gearing toward before I go to the conference. This will help to guide me through all of those wonderful vendors full of wonderful homeschooling material!
The first thing I evaluate at the beginning of the school year is my children's learning style. This will guide all my other planning and choices. There are many books and sites that will give you all the technical terms of each learning style, but I don't think that this is necessary. You just need to know what your child likes and works well with and what he/she does not. Think about the things that have worked well in the past and the things that were duds. Remember that you child's learning style can change as he/she develops and that every child is different.
Princess Buttercup is easily distracted and does not respond well to long, redundant assignments or worksheets. She does, however, enjoy worksheets that are quick paced and she could sit and read a book all day! Flashcards, songs, and recitations work better for her than written work. She has to have things that keep her mind engaged. And for those longer assignments, we often need headphones to block out distractions (not something you would get from public school, might I add!).
Then there's my Little Bear. He does not respond well to oral recitation or flash cards. For the longest time I thought I was starting him on Preschool too early, because he would not tell me any of the colors or shapes when I showed him the flashcards and books. Then one day he told me he liked the stars and circles on my shirt. A few days later he was organizing his Hot Wheels by color and told me what each color pile was. This happened recently as well. I have been trying to teach him to count to 20. Yesterday, while I was outside watering the garden, he and his sister were playing hide and seek and he clearly, out loud, and correctly, counted to 30 before he went to find her. He needs more hands-on, applicable lessons. He enjoys doing worksheets and motor-skill activities. He must be doing constantly. Sitting still is just not his cup of tea.
Before you make any decisions for the school year (curriculum, schedules, etc.), first take time to evaluate your child's learning style. It will cut out a lot of the hassle of purchasing things that don't work for you.