The Importance of Field Trips for Learning

Homeschool SurvivalFun Summer Field Trips

Whether you take summer off from school or continue to homeschool year-round like we do, the warmer weather and more relaxed schedules provide opportunities for getting out and exploring your community through field trips.

Field trips are an important aspect of education as kids get to see, hear, and do. Oral histories and hands-on experiences lead to discovery learning, and this kind of learning really sticks. My kids recall things they’ve heard from the people who experienced them much more than from simply reading about them.

From perspectives of World War II as a young Jewish girl or as a young American soldier, to walking around in Shoeless Joe Jackson’s house, these real experiences leave a lasting impression on kids.

When I taught in a public school classroom and ventured out to a museum with my classes to see a Holocaust exhibit, not only was it the first time most of them had even been in a museum, but the artifacts and displays immersed them in the history we had been reading about. They got to see first-hand that history is real. Those kids will never forget that.

I’ve learned that all you have to do is ask, and people are more than willing to provide a field trip for you. (Don’t forget to send them a thank you note!)

The Ultimate Summer List of Free or Low-Cost Field Trips:

  • Art museum
  • American Legion museum
  • History museum
  • Baseball museum
  • Professional sports team training camp
  • U-pick farm
  • Organic farm
  • Alpaca farm
  • Goat farm
  • Dairy
  • Plant nursery
  • Grain mill
  • State parks
  • Fish hatchery
  • Horse stables
  • Zoo (membership saves money if you go often or have a large family, and is often reciprocal)
  • Veterinary clinic
  • Dental clinic
  • Nursing home
  • Restaurants (cost of food only, usually w/ a group discount and educational talk/tour included)
  • Grocery Store (Behind-the-scenes tours)
  • Local colleges and universities
  • Library tours/talks/classes
  • Post office
  • Fire station
  • Police station
  • City Hall (meet the mayor)
  • Airport
  • Television station
  • Radio station
  • Newspaper office
  • Book printer
  • Civic center
  • Free children’s concerts given by the local symphony
  • Children’s theater performances
  • Historical homes
  • Historical monuments
  • Manufacturing plant
  • Recycling center
  • Waste-water treatment facility

Click here to take a look at how I keep records of our field trips for school credit and print my field trip form.

Have any ideas to add to the list? Add them in the comments!

 

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

Virtual Field Trip to Washington DC

 

Virtual Field Trip

 

*affiliate links may be present

We are about to embark on the best field trip ever.  We are taking a field trip to Washington DC for the Teach Them Diligently National Homeschool Convention where I’ll be speaking! If you are attended – you may have seen me at the  A+ Interactive Math booth. I encourage homeschool families that they need not fear math any longer & that you really can teach your child in math. When God calls, He provides – Amen?

In my preparation for this exciting journey, I have gathered resources and information for anyone who would like to visit DC and for those who will not be able to make the field trip in person . . .  interactive links for you to come along – virtually! 

As you work your way through the download doc – you will find pictures and links that will direct you to some of the most famous icons around the Capital. Instead of printing the document – you can use it as an interactive adventure by clicking on the various links.

Our journey begins at the National Archives where you can peruse through documents which have shaped our country over the years.  You’ll find free worksheets where your students can document what they are learning – whether they visit in person on online – with the FREE Artifact Worksheets.

National Archive docs and tour

Find original documents, photographs & information from the US Patents office: Child Labor Laws, articles, proposals and official documents that have shaped our Constitution.  Learn more about due process, and the rights of the accused to be represented by an attorney. Read a hand written notarized letter dated 1962 about due process and the lack of such. Learn about how certain civil rights issues became officially amended in the Constitution and read real letters by the people who made it happen.  Digging through the old documents is another way to make history come alive and helps you understand the people who have shaped our country.

Washington DC landmarks

You can then move on to explore the famous landmarks around Washington DC and the National Mall! You will find links to some 15 different Smithsonian Museums, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and more.

As you read through the document and explore the links, you’ll find videos, pictures, and information you can read together. Take notes, print pictures, and create a special lapbook, or file folder full of information from your virtual journey!

Download Virtual Field Trip HERE

 

$297 Value CTC Math Giveaway + Homeschool Freebies & Giveaways Link Up


Homeschool Freebies & Giveaways Link Up - Every Monday

Homeschool Moms Giveaways & Freebies Linky Party – Week 18

Welcome to Week 18 of the Giveaways & Freebies Linky party!  We’ve been having so much fun these last few months with some amazing giveaways!  Thank you to all of the sponsors so far! and Thank YOU for showing up and participating in the giveaways and freebies!

This is the week that we are starting to amp up our giveaways!  Each week, the giveaways will be worth $50 or more!  You won’t want to miss the next few sponsors that we have lined up!  If you have any suggestions on who you would like to see as a giveaway, be sure to leave me a comment or email me!
Homeschool Survival Weekly Giveaways

 

Do you love teaching math to your homeschooled kids? Have you ever lost sleep over your kids learning (or not learning) their math concepts?  Do you wish you could have a math tutor in your house any time you need one?    It can be so frustrating!  Especially when the child you are teaching learns in a totally opposite way than you do!  If teaching math ever frustrates you, I think you’ll be really excited about today’s sponsor, CTC Math!

 

About Our Sponsor

CTC Math Logo

World-renowned Australian math teacher Pat Murray has helped tens of thousands of students from all over the world excel at math. He can help your child too.

Pat presents each lesson in his unique friendly, step-by-step manner. The lessons are concise and logical (about 10 minutes!), making them really easy to understand and retain. This gives students that important self-confidence in their own ability.

One of the most powerful features of CTCmath is simply this…

The ability to stop and rewind the teacher to repeat anything your child doesn’t fully understand.  And to repeat things as many times as they like – until they feel comfortable they understand it. There’s no embarrassment factor and Pat never gets frustrated.

Be sure to visit the Parent Page to see how CTC Math can help your family learn math easily and thoroughly!

The Prize

CTC Math Giveaway

CTC Math is giving away a 12 month Family Plan.  The Family Plan is good for 2 or more students.  By using it, you will have access to any grade level that you need!  This is a $297 value!

How to Enter

This giveaway will open on Monday, May 19th at 12:01 a.m. and end on Sunday, May 25th at 11:59 p.m.  

Enter by completing the entries in the Raffelcopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Be sure to head over to HomeschoolSurvival.com to see what other Homeschooling Giveaways you can enter to win or Freebies you can get!  The giveaways & freebies link up is every Monday! Are you a homeschooling company who would like to sponsor the weekly Giveaways for Homeschoolers?  Email Sarah of Homeschool Survival at sidetrackedsarah (at) gmail.com    

Other Giveaways & Freebies:  Lets Link Up!

It’s time to link up!  If you’re a blogger linking up, I only ask that you link back to me, if possible.  I can’t wait to see your giveaways and freebies! (If you’re reading this in an email, be sure to click to the site to see more giveaways. More could be added all week!)

Extracurricular Activities Available to Homeschoolers

Extracurricular Activities Available to Homeschoolers

 

We are all about fun in this family. We fit in fun whenever we can.   This most often happens with extracurricular activities.  When my son was in public school, we limited him to a maximum of two activities at a time .  Since he is a kid that needs his sleep, sometimes had to say no, depending on the time or day of the week. No more limits, as long as our wallet can afford it, now that we homeschool.

Climbing

My son has been in Boy Scouts for the past 8 years, which has offered him opportunities for numerous adventures, volunteer work, and socialization. Adventures have included camping, climbing, white water rafting, zip lining, traveling, and hiking, to name a few.  My son’s troop has an honor guard and they serve the community at Memorial re-dedications and Veterans events. We have volunteered giving out water at race events, Christmas meal deliveries to shut-ins, and improvements to cemeteries and parks in the community.  As a member of the Boy Scouts honor society, The Order of the Arrow, my son was able to finally join the Native American inspired dance team last year. The team has performed all over Massachusetts and New Hampshire, as well as, at a recent Pow Wow in New Jersey.  Because of the relationships he has established with scouts from other Troops, he was invited on another Troop’s upcoming trip to West Point in May.  This trip would have normally interfered with a public school schedule, but not any more.  Yay!

Honor Guard

Native American

As a family, we love to ski and snowboard in the winter. Homeschooling allows us a flexible schedule, so if the weather is perfect mid-day, we can get in some treks at the nearby mountain anytime 8am to 10pm during the season.

My son recently began swing dancing. He loves the big band jive and all the fancy moves. The crowd is mostly an older mix and he’d like some ladies his own age to mix with, but he has a blast with his best friend all the same. Swing dances are held locally Sunday nights 7 pm to 11 pm, so we could say yes to this opportunity with the flexibility of homeschooling.

The track coach at the area public high school would love for my son to join the team. The great thing with homeschooling is that students where we live can participate in all extracurricular activities and sports at the public high school, too.  Although my son loves to run for recreation, he is not into competition at all.  He is still undecided, but it is awesome to see the opportunities that are available.

Airsoft

Another activity my son enjoys with his friends and my husband is air soft.  I know guns are a touchy subject for many, as well as, hunting people or war. My point here is about activities, opportunities, and finding what your kid enjoys. My son plans to join the military and rather than just attacking zombies in a video game, my son gets to role play, team build, and strategize in a safe environment.

Keep your kids engaged, find out what the enjoy, and live life to the fullest!

What extracurricular activities have you found for your homeschooled kids?

 

Melissa ReadMelissa is in her first year of homeschooling her teenaged son, while working part-time.  She enjoys the simple life, but her husband is a super techie.  It’s an interesting balance as Melissa strives to learn more homesteading skills, while her husband is playing the latest Xbox game.  Find Melissa’s Facebook page:  Minor in Homeschool.

Interest-Led Learning for High School

Interest-Led Learning for High School via homeschoolsurvival.com

My son is becoming passionate about filmmaking, from script writing to directing to camera-operating. He started with a flip camera, then added a camcorder and a stop-motion animation program with a webcam.  He’ worked all summer one year cutting grass to save money for a “really nice” camera, and everything on his Christmas list is related to that (boom mic, lights, reflectors.) He now spends most of his free time writing scripts — pages and pages of scripts. Because of his passion for the art of filmmaking, I decided to craft an interest-led learning elective course for him for high school fine arts credit.

Stop Motion Animation

My son has already produced both live-action and stop-motion movies to the delight of all of our family members (grandparents make an especially appreciative audience.) Stopmotion Explosion: Animate Anything and Make Movies- Epic Films for $20 or Less has been a great jumping off point into the live action stuff that he really wants to do.
For part of his literature/language arts and elective studies, I have scoured the internet and other avenues to find resources to fit into our curriculum. It hasn’t been easy to find resources appropriate for teens, but I have managed to put together some things that are working so far.

Free Resources

Educational guides and lesson plans for movies such as Because of Winn Dixie, Hoot, Where the Red Fern Grows, Bridge to Terabithia, Narnia, Holes, City of Ember, and more are available as free downloads from Walden Media. We have used these guides along with the novels and the movies as “going beyond the book” studies.
We also found tons of resources for teachers and students at Oscars.org, including screenwriting, animation, visual effects, cinematography, and more. Although I don’t have any filmmaking experience, I’ve been able to piece together enough resources to help my son pursue his interests.

Film Curriculum

I’ve found some filmmaking books and curriculum as well, such as Filmmaking for Teens: Pulling Off Your Shorts and Movies as Literature curriculum from Design-a-Study. These are the base for our coursework, with all the other above-listed resources as supplements to this course.

The Movies as Literature course is an intensive study of movies as short stories. This program is not just about watching movies. Each movie studied includes 25 discussion questions, including topics for compositions and extended activities with either reading assignments, history research, or other movies related to the one being studied. Movies include both classic and modern selections, including ShaneThe Quiet ManRear WindowThe Maltese FalconE.T., The Philadelphia Story, and several more. For Shane, we read the novel before watching the movie, then the topics studied in this lesson included:

  • Character development vs. stereotypes
  • Film techniques
  • Plot development
  • Character motivation
  • Foreshadowing
  • Setting
  • Mood
  • Symbolism
  • Underlying messages about:  what makes a man, what makes a hero, whether or not the end justifies the means, whether ‘A man who lives by the sword, dies by the sword,’ the positive contributions of God-fearing families to settlements in new territories.

The student workbook isn’t required for the program, but I bought it so that I could make notes in my book and my son could have his own book to follow along in as we discuss the material.  Although this is a high school level course, a child strong in language arts could easily use this for eighth grade.

Enthusiasm for Learning

Above all, I want my kids to be excited about learning. If I can incorporate their interests into our curriculum, a huge plus to homeschooling, they are more enthusiastic and motivated. I love it when they ask me to “do school.”

I’d love to hear what you do for interest-led electives in your homeschool!

 

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram

 

HUGE Homeschooling Giveaway!

Homeschool Giveaway

It’s that time of year again, when we all are searching for next year’s homeschool curriculum. And we only know too well that money is tight when you are living on one income.

So now is your chance to get a head start on next year’s homeschool curriculum with this HUGE Homeschool Curriculum Bundle!

We are looking for (2) winners! Each winner will be receiving one of the bundles which is retailed over $350.00.

We teamed up with the best homeschool companies available to offer our readers this incredible bundle pack, and they all have been very gracious!

Check out these great prizes!

shining dawn books early spring bundle

See the Light Cartooning

All About Reading

Philosophy Adventure

Math EssentialsAmerica's Math Teacher

    • Christian Heroes series 2-for-1 Special – Gladys Aylward and George Muller by YWAM Publishing

Christian Heroes Then and Now

??????????????????????????????????

Be sure to enter this generous giveaway! I will be picking a random winner on April 25th at 12 AM. All entries will be verified. Winners will be contacted via email and must respond within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen.

NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to the owner of this Facebook page and not to Facebook.

Free Ebook to Help Make Your Kids Confident Writers + Freebies Giveaways Link Up


Homeschool Freebies & Giveaways Link Up - Every Monday

Homeschool Moms Giveaways & Freebies Linky Party – Week 14

Welcome to Week 14 of the Giveaways & Freebies Linky party!  We’ve been having so much fun these last few weeks with some amazing giveaways!  Thank you to all of the sponsors so far! and Thank YOU for showing up and participating in the giveaways and freebies!

This Week’s Ebook Download is sponsored by Fortuigence

(this post contains affiliate links)

Fortuigence Free Ebook Image

Do you think that teaching writing to your kids is hard?  Apparently you’re not the only one!  (I know, I do, too!)

You give them an assignment…..

“Go write a short story”, you say.

They sit there, staring at the blank piece of paper.

Just start writing, you think to yourself.  But they’re stumped.  They’re overwhelmed……

Well, Fortuigence (who  also happens to be my absolute favorite way for my older children to learn writing) has written an ebook on the subject.  It’s called:

End Blank Page Terror Forever:  24 Pre-Writing Tools and Guidebook to Organize Content, Take Notes with Ease and Make Your Kids Confident Writers!

Sounds awesome doesn’t it?

Essay-Rock-Star

 

Access and download this FREE workbook that shows you how to bypass the blank page. End Blank Page Terror Forever! 24 Pre-Writing Tools and Guidebook to Organize Content, Take Notes with Ease and Make Your Kids Confident Writers does just that.

Not only does this workbook give you an assortment of 24 pre-writing activities, but there’s a guided explanation of when and how to use each and every one of them. All in all, these pre-writing activities — using teaching tools called graphic organizers — along with the guide will show you and your kids how to:

  • Break up the start of a writing project into small, easy-to-manage pieces,
  • Brainstorm ideas,
  • Organize content,
  • Take notes from a text,
  • Avoid a negative attitude toward writing, and
  • Build your kids’ confidence in their ability to write well!

Fortuigence’s goal is to help kids become better writers.

While they have a number of online courses available for middle and high school students, they want to support all parents to help their kids become confident writers. In this workbook, they share the writing tools they use with students in our their online writing courses. They especially want to support homeschooling families, because teaching every subject to kids at different grade levels is a gigantic amount of work!

Would you like to get this free e-book?  Enter your email address below:

  Be sure to check out my Review of Fortuigence and The Essay Rockstar here.  

Are You Interested in a FREEBIE, just for Parents, too?!

free writing course If you are interested in learning more about teaching writing, be sure to sign up for Fortuigence’s free course for parents called  ”Top Teach: 7 Steps to Gain the Confidence, the Know How and an Easy to Follow Framework to Ensure Your Child Learns to Write Well at Home“.  

 

If you’d like more information about Essay Rock Star (one of Fortuigence’s writing courses available for purchase), be sure to check out their site by clicking on the picture below.  There you will learn how the course works, screen shots of actual communication between the teacher and student, You Tube videos and more!

Essay Rockstar Image
 

Other Giveaways & Freebies

It’s time to link up!  If you’re a blogger linking up, I only ask that you link back to me, if possible.  I can’t wait to see your giveaways and freebies! (If you’re reading this in an email, be sure to click to the site to see more giveaways. More could be added all week!)  

Free Resources for Homeschooling High School

 

Free Resources for Homeschooling High School

Curriculum can be expensive, especially when you purchase a program or material that is sub par.  I love finding top-notch curriculum that helps meet our family’s homeschooling high school needs, while staying within our budget.  My son is taking Chemistry, Driver’s Education, Geometry, English Language Arts, US History, and Physical Education during the 2013-2014 10th grade school year.  Geometry, English Language Arts, and US History are all free!

Geometry

For Geometry, we are currently using Khan Academy, http://www.khanacademy.org/ . My son had used Khan Academy for several subjects when finishing up 9th grade.  I like that Khan Academy has a variety of interactive practice tools to aid in comprehension. If the student gets stuck, they can go through step-by-step hints to further aid in the development of skills.  Khan Academy is constantly adding more subjects and continues to enhance their site.  My son learns better with anything hands on and this is really the only area where Khan Academy, like many online based curriculums, is lacking.

Language Arts

With English Language Arts, I had several goals in mind:  increase vocabulary, learn to love reading, prepare for PSAT and SAT exams. I wanted to expose my son to a variety of authors and styles and I was excited when I came across curriculum for an Honors English 10th grade class in a surrounding town, which led us to the quest theme incorporating writing skills into his curriculum.  He’s read and written about Beowulf, Of Mice and Men, No Easy Day, and MacBeth so far. If we did not already have the book, I found the text online for free.  Free PSAT and SAT prep, as well as, ACT prep can be found online at https://www.collegeboard.org/ .  Here you can practice, register, and plan for these tests and get lists of vocabulary words to know.

US History

For US History, we are using the AP course on Hippo Campus, http://www.hippocampus.org.  The material follows along in a chronological order and there is a portion you read, a video, and usually document images to investigate and think about or answer questions about.  I am excited that they also have a variety of other subjects available, but I have not yet had a chance to review them.

Other Subjects

With my son’s other subjects, we are using pay programs, especially where we had to purchase all the lab materials for Chemistry. I realize Physical Education normally is free, but my son has taken up swing dancing,  $10 a week, and is on a Native American folk dancing team And we have put a fair amount of money towards his regalia.

 

Melissa ReadMelissa is in her first year of homeschooling her teenaged son, while working part-time.  She enjoys the simple life, but her husband is a super techie.  It’s an interesting balance as Melissa strives to learn more homesteading skills, while her husband is playing the latest Xbox game.  Find Melissa’s Facebook page:  Minor in Homeschool.

 

 

Bringing History to Life

Living History Title | Homeschool Survival

They say it is important to know our history so we don’t repeat the same mistakes. While this may be true, many find studying history to be boring and irrelevant. How can we capture our children’s interest so they learn the wonderful lessons history has to offer?  How are we bringing history to life?

Problem: History = Boring, Irrelevant, Uninteresting

My own experience with history is that it was dry and unconnected. I read snippets of someone else’s interpretation of events and tried to memorize long lists of dates. My eyes would glaze over, my brain would zone out. I have a tiny recollection of studying the Ancient Greeks in my high school World Civ class, but I more clearly remember the monotone voice and polyester pantsuits my teacher wore. I can tell you exactly what the cover of my American History text looked like, even the title, but I cannot remember any information contained within that thick book.

How can we make History studies a better experience for our children? We can look for opportunities that would help make learning come alive for our children. In our homeschool, history studies include reading as many biographies and first-hand accounts of people and events as we can. Reenacting the accounts we read about, discussing the events and the differences in their lives and ours at the dinner table or around the school table help reinforce what we’ve read.

Living History 2  Apron Strings & other things

Solution: A Living History Museum

Anything we can do to help connect our children to their history will help reinforce the lessons that can be learned from history and make the future so much brighter. How about a Living History Museum? Have you ever seen the movie ‘Night at the Museum’? Where the displays come alive at night? Next month that is exactly what will be happening with our homeschool support group. We’ll be stepping back in history, meeting the famous and reliving memorable events that have influenced our lives today. This is how we accomplish it:

  1. Invite all participants to research the life of an important person in history. Learn all they can about that person, their lifestyle, family, circumstances, events in their lives.
  2. Prepare a display of some type and step into their hero’s shoes. Collect samples of tools and items that person may have used, learn a skill they might have known, find/create clothing that is typical of that time period.
  3. Learn the names and places of their family, their home, their occupation.
  4. Be ready to represent this person to those visiting our museum. Child will interract with visitors explaining how an event or invention or discovery came about, from the first person point of view.
  5. Invite your friends, Grandma and Grandpa, Aunts and Uncles, others interested in homeschooling or skeptical about educating children at home.
  6. Open the doors and walk back in time! Have fun! Absorb! Learn!

 

Laura Ingalls | Homeschool Survival

At our Living History Museum last year, we met Israelites who were at the Wall of Jericho when it fell and Queen Esther with King Xerxes. What a treat it was to meet Laura Ingalls, barefoot with her sunbonnet hanging down her back, practicing her letters on  a slate. Oh! and one of the Wright Brothers. We conversed with Betsy Ross as she worked on the first flag of our new nation, she had some interesting tales to share. Let’s not forget Sally Ride. She even had some freeze dried ice cream for us to sample, just like the astronauts ate when they were in space. Our children brought history to life for their grandparents and neighbors and learned some things along the way. What a great educational opportunity! History, Reading, Speech, Language, Writing, Art, Woodshop, HomeEc, Science, Geography – these are just some of the subjects we covered while preparing for this big assignment.

I wonder who we’ll meet at our Living History Museum this year? Who would you most like to meet?

 

stop and smell the daisies

Linda Sears is a stay-at-home wife, homeschooling mother and doting grandmother. She and her husband have 8 children, a daughter-in-law, 2 sons-in-law and 5 grandchildren, so far. They have been homeschooling for more than 20 years, graduating 4 of their 8 children, with 4 more to go. You’ll find her at Apron Strings & other things where she blogs about life as she knows it, with children in various stages of cutting those apron strings.

 

 

Handwriting ~ Pre-writing Readiness

Fine motor skills are obviously related to writing, but sensory, gross motor, cognitive, perceptual, and even visual components are equally important to a child’s developmental progression.

Before you begin to teach handwriting to your child, before you even place a pencil in their hand, ask yourself the following questions.
Can they:
• imitate movement patterns such as nursery rhyme motions with their hands?
• successfully use a variety of grasp patterns?
• understand a progression on paper from left to right?
• recognize the letters of the alphabet?
• understand directions such as up and down?
• follow one step instructions consistently? Two step? Three step?

Children can begin learning to write without total mastery of everything that I listed, but if you are aware of their needs you will be better equipped to help them progress more easily.

Recommendations:
• Let your child scribble. Provide an inexpensive coloring book, print some free color sheets, or even blank paper and crayons. Sit beside them and color with them. Coloring within the lines can come later. At first let them enjoy the experience of marking on paper and seeing that their action produces a visible result. From scribbling you can help them progress to lines and circles. 
• Try other mediums. Pudding is a fun finger-paint and is both washable and edible. If the mess bothers you too much, let them try finger painting with pudding in the bathtub. The mess will be contained.
• Explore a variety of sensory manipulatives. Play dough, rice buckets, fabric, the possibilities are limited only by your environment. Many household items can be used in different ways to provide developmental experiences. Play games that require them to move small pieces.

• Read to your child. Let them see the words on the paper as you read. This will help them recognize words and letters, see a natural left-right progression, and build their vocabulary.
• Let them get dirty. Writing with a stick in the sand, fingers in mud, and colored water in the snow are all delightful experiences that most children will interpret as play.

Do you know yet if your child is right or left handed? That fact should have an impact on how you teach writing. We have all heard stories of left handed adults who were forced by teachers to write with their right hand. But less realized is left handed children who are taught to write with a right- handed style using their left hand. Being aware from the start that your child is left handed can help you know to present tasks in such a way that they will perform them correctly instead of with their wrist abnormally bent.

Once they start writing, continue to provide opportunities other than just pencil on paper. I already mentioned window markers, but they are such a useful tool it is worth repeating. Writing on vertical surfaces helps a child’s gross motor development and the large movements help train their brain to remember what they are doing. Another useful method is air writing. Using a foam sword, a large plastic pencil, or even an empty paper towel tube, have them imitate the motions you make in the air.

If you are on Pinterest, follow any of these relevant boards that interest you: handwriting, fine motor funsensory exploration, visual cues and perception, and gross motor development.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of handwriting readiness, but should give you a starting point.  If you think visual problems could be affecting your child’s progress, please have that tested by a professional. Proper eye glasses can make an immediate difference in their functional performance.

Disclaimer: This is an informational article and is not a substitute for medical advice. If you think that your child is in need of Occupational Therapy services, discuss it with their pediatrician. 

 

Jennifer is an occupational therapist and a homeschooling mom of three children. She and her husband have been married for 17 years. Ten years ago they left their home in the city, to move to Jennifer’s family homestead, on her Granddad’s land.   They have three children, two girls and one boy, ages 16, 14, and 9.   You can read more about Jennifer and her family on her blog, A Glimpse of Our Life.