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Enchanted Homeschooling Mom

I write the Enchanted Homeschooling Mom blog where you will find printables,crafts,kids activities,and more.I strive make every day a magical homeschooling day!

Jill is a winner of Top 25 Homeschooling Moms - 2013

Do you have any tips for helping kids concentrate on their studies?

I never set out on my path into adulthood with the goal or intention of becoming a teacher. When homeschooling literally fell into my lap one day by the grace of god I knew that being a homeschooling mom was something that I was meant to do. As a homeschooling mom, I have seen firsthand the passion, drive, concentration (and sometimes lack thereof) that all children have naturally within themselves.

One key factor that took me years to finally figure out is that rather than giving my children outdoor free time to run and play in the afternoons after school it is best for my children if they have this time in the morning prior to school. This allows them to exercise and start their day off at their own pace and leisure so that when school time and studies roll around they are focused, engaged, and driven.

The other tip that I would suggest is to incorporate a lot of hands on learning, no matter what grade level your child is, since it is all too easy to just use bookmarks. My rule of thumbs as a homeschooling mom is that if I find the lesson boring than more than likely my children do as well. Ultimately that means that they tend to tune out the lesson which does no one any good at all. Try and mix it up in your homeschool and perhaps act out the scene in the teacher’s book to make the lesson more engaging and fun.

What's an educational game or activity you and your kids love?

Our family lives where more often than not the temperatures tend to be on the warmer side of the thermometer. My favorite educational activity that our children and I always look forward to is and activity that I created called 'Foam Block Pool Spelling'. Here is all that you need to have some foam block pool spelling fun:

Materials Needed:
◾100 Foam Blocks (our blocks have different colors and shapes to make this a little more challenging)
◾Black permanent marker to write all of the letters of the alphabet

How to make it a learning game: When the kids get into the pool I will dump the entire bag into the water. I plan to write one of the kids spelling/sight words onto our small handheld dry erase board and hold it up. The kids then get to swim and dive to find the letters for their word. The one who spells theirs first will win.

For our children this makes spelling fun, gets them outdoors in the fresh air exercising, all while practicing their spelling words!

How do you encourage a love of reading in your kids?

Reading is magical, isn't it?! Each and every single storybook can almost feel like it jumped right out of Mary Poppins magical carpet bag. Our children have had their own library cards since they were each 3 months old and daily storybooks ever since. Reading has always been something that my husband and I have made a priority in our family.

As the children have grown and they have progressed through grade levels there have been times when I have had to pull out my very own Mary Poppins style homeschooling bag to take down a wall or roadblock. Our son for example is an excellent reader. However, he did reach a point this past school year where he would shut down at the mere thought of finishing a book because there was a book report of some sort to complete when he did. Reading comprehension is a key component of reading skills and I had to find a way to get around this hurdle. How did I get around this hurdle? I took a piece of construction paper and folded it in half. Inside I placed 10 plain white pieces of construction that I had in half. Then I stapled them together to create a comic book. Rather than the boring old report forms (that he still does every once in awhile by the way) he now can express what he learned in the storybook through the comic book that he creates. I now find him reading his free time/leisure books on his own and creating a comic book based on a storybook that he read for fun.

Our daughter on the other hand, has a passion for writing and would love nothing more than to write book reports all day long. She has had to overcome a natural lisp and speech impediment since a young age that caused her to be self conscious about her reading skills. To encourage her reading skills, I created emergent readers that would allow her to interact with the stories, focus on the sounds of letters and words, all while having characters she loves to color or cut out of the printable books. She focused on the enjoyment that a story can bring to a child and before she knew it had surpassed everyone's expectations as far as her progress.

As a family we make sure to read a book every evening before bed as a family (no matter how busy we are how late it is getting). Our children look forward to this routine which I feel helps them see books in general as a treat and a magical world rather than an assignment or a chore.