Don't Forget the Arts

The curriculum is ready.  The lesson plans are in order.  All core subjects are covered.  It’s going to be a great homeschool year.  Please, don’t forget the arts!  As a homeschool mom who also holds a degree in music, I’m here to stress the importance of music education.

Music and art can be very easy to add to your homeschool, but don’t let them just be an add-on.  Learning and training in the arts is very beneficial to your children.  Numerous studies show that learning music is wonderful for the developing child.  Music Education leads to greater academic success, this includes the verbal and auditory development.  Learning to play an instrument helps to develop fine motor-skills.  There are many other benefits.

Adding music to your child’s education can be easy.  In the early years, parents naturally sing little rhyming songs to their children.  As they’re growing, you can add rhythm to the songs.  Teach them to clap along to the beat, or get a little drum.  If you can’t sing well, you can use sing-a-long tapes with your children.  These are free to check out at your local library.  You can make some
 homemade instruments or purchase them.

Until the age of seven or eight, teaching children songs is a great way to learn music.  They may also participate in a children’s choir or class.  They don’t need private lessons yet.  Children’s choirs use a lot of rhythm with hand-motions, etc.  When your child reaches the age of eight, they may be ready for private lessons on the piano.  If they learn to play the piano, they will also learn many technical things that will carry over into all of their musical life.  They will learn to read notes and understand how music is composed.  They may want to make up their own songs.

As they grow older, children can train to play other instruments or consider vocal training.  Choirs are still a wonderful way to learn and provide fun, too.  Many cities have homeschool choirs, city choirs, and your church choir.  Instruments can be purchased “used” for a more frugal beginning.

Let your child explore their musical side, even if they don’t appear terribly musical.  They will probably improve a great deal.  Unless your child is a rare prodigy, they will need to be taught.  Learning to play an instrument takes work and dedication.  This discipline that they learn in music education will carry over into their academics.

Art education isn’t my specialty, but teaching art in your homeschool can still be easy.  The beginning years, of course, can consist of paper and crayons.   Don’t worry about the talent, just let them draw.  Get them paints and brushes and brag on their art.  They can sculpt things with some play-dough, and when their hands are stronger; beautiful clays.  The sky is the limit with children and art!  Keep an art center (or at least a box) filled with creative stuff.  You could have colored paper, white paper, crayons, paints, clay, feathers, little odds and ends, toilet-paper ends, etc.  Add scissors that are appropriate.  Children will get very creative.

In upper grades, I found that the Charlotte Mason style of art education was very good.  Simply Charlotte Mason
 explains the method very well.  We tried to do this often.  If your child seems to have great artistic talent, it’s important to help them pursue that.  They may want art lessons.  At the least, provide them with good quality brushes and paints.

I hope you’ll explore the arts in your homeschool.  The benefits are worthy and the best part is the fun!

@ 2016,copyright Lisa Ehrman

Homeschooling: What's Your Learning Style?

As an educator, the thing I love most about homeschooling, is our ability to provide individualized education plans for each of our children.  I don’t know about you, but each of my children were very different.  In order for me to teach them well, and prepare them for life ahead, I needed to make sure I used the best teaching methods suited to their learning style.  

My homeschooling goal for my children was to prepare them with a strenuous education, so that no matter what calling they had, they would have a great educational foundation.  I wasn’t perfect, by any means, but did my best.

Homeschooling Learning Style

I believe that teaching children to learn in the way that they learn best, will help them to love learning.  This will help them to be life-long learners.  This helps to develop character.  As I taught homeschool, I spent much of my summers learning about learning.  I already had a degree in (Music Education) so I had taken many education courses in college.  These courses helped me to understand a lot about lesson planning and the importance of scope and sequence.  I knew that just jumping around with a lot of unit studies wasn’t going to cover everything that I wanted to cover.  Gaps will happen, of course.  But, I didn’t want to add to them by my own lack of planning and organization.

When I began to learn about “learning styles”, I pictured myself and each of my children.  Each of us stood out in one style or another.  Some of us over-lapped in more than one style.  This is why most curriculum plans are written so that we teach, using all of the learning styles.  (That way it works for a classroom full of kids)  It also works for children who have a balance of many styles.  

Homeschool Learning Style

You may find that one of your children is struggling with school or just one subject in school.  This is a good time to make sure you are teaching to their dominant learning style.  It helps to capture their attention and makes it easier for them to focus, naturally.  I had a child who was very visual.  When I began to use visual learning projects with her, with the Konos curriculum, she loved it.  Konos is also a great curriculum to use with more than one child, because there is much hands-on learning.  The curriculum provides many learning projects to choose from in each section, from all the different learning styles.

If you’re not sure what learning style your child is, you can
 read more about it.  You can also have them tested.  Check with a local college that has a teacher’s education department.  Many times they offer tutoring and testing.  Oftentimes, it’s free, because the student teachers are being trained in giving these tests.  So, it’s a win-win for everyone.  

Homeschool Learning Styles hands-on learning

Focusing on learning styles is not the only way to plan education, of course.  But, it’s an interesting way to look at how each of your children is learning.  It certainly is a good option to check into if your children have had any struggles with their curriculum.  When I earned my master’s in education, we studied differentiated instruction.  This term is used in the classroom, when the teacher needs to use all methods available to make sure that every child is able to learn.  Homeschoolers need to, and usually, do this naturally.  If you must use the same curriculum with every child (aka ABeka) you can add things to this program to meet specific learning needs.  (I’m just using ABeka as an example- I like their books and used them quite a lot).

If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact me on the contact form.  I would also love to hear comments about how you’ve used learning styles in your homeschool!  Thanks.
@2016, copyright Lisa Ehrman

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