Monday, 16 February 2015

Encouraging Your Kids' Interests in a Large Family

One of the reasons that I chose to homeschool was because I wanted to be able to tailor my child's learning to their own interests and learning styles.  Of course, back then there were only two children and one of them was an infant whose only interest was seeing how long his mother could go without sleep before she totally lost it.  Fast forward a few years....we've got a couple more kids (and the answer is three.  Three days with no sleep and I start to snap.) and they all have different interests.  I still want to provide them with an education that a good fit for their individual personalities but it's hard to do that with three (and counting) very different personalities. 

So while my family with four children isn't really that big and they are still young, I have discovered some ways to follow all of their interests without going insane. 

Involve the Whole Family in Individual Interests
My oldest daughter wants to open a bakery when she grows up so I've made it a priority to bake with her once a week.  While my younger ones do not want to be bakers, they do enjoy helping their big sister make cookies (and they love being taste testers even more).  She loves to teach them the things that she's learned about baking and I think that helps to reinforce the things she's learning.  All in all, involving all of the kids in one of their interests is good for everyone! 

Field trips are another great learning experience that you can involve the whole family in.

Use Read Alouds and Independant Reading Time
We love reading and usually have a few books on the go at any given time.  I try to make sure that one of our read aloud books is about a topic that one of the kids is interested in.  I rotate it so that each of them gets a chance to hear about something that they're interested in. 

We also make sure that when we get books at the library, the kids each choose a non-fiction book about something they'd like to learn about.  That way some of their independant reading time can be devoted to learning more about their chosen topic. 

Have Regular One-on-One Time
In our house every Tuesday night is date night with mommy.  The kids take turns staying up past bedtime to hang out with me.  This is a great time to tackle some hands on projects or do some more in depth research about something they're interested in.  Obviously I don't want to make date night to "schooly" so I try to keep it light and fun and to always follow their lead. 

For example, my son is very interested in dinosaurs right now so at our next date night we are going to watch a Walking with the Dinosaurs on Netflix (complete with special snacks) and then we might do a hands on fossil activity that I found on Pinterest. 

This has worked out really well for us because I am making sure I get quality, one on one time with each of my kids and we get to dive deeper into learning about something that they're really excited about!

When you combine all of these elements together, you can get a pretty well rounded education on whichever topic your child is passionate about.  Plus, you are exposing your other kids to something new AND you're getting quality time with your kids.  It's a win-win-win!

How do you ensure that you're teaching to your individual children's interests in a large family?

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