The peeps at Homeschool Singapore are putting out a special for parents and caregivers in Singapore and beyond! You’re not alone if you feel stuck at home, or not sure what to do with the kids. Over the next 14 days (and more!), we will post a story across our social media platforms and website, on how we home educate and some handy tips. We hope these stories will encourage, uplift and inspire you during this time.
Covid 19 has affected all of us in one way or another. We are thankful we have been healthy and well, but we do feel the effects of the coronavirus situation by way of less outings and more time at home.
Staying home for extended periods of time gets a little trickier when you have preschoolers in toll – 5 years and under. Preschoolers tend to get bored easily and when they’re bored, they can get a tad whiny.
A little boredom, in fact, is good for them as it allows for creativity and imagination. However, I have found that good living books are an excellent way to bring our kids places from the confines of our home. We take it a step further by expanding on our reading with an intentional activity/project a day.
Activities we did after we read “Yellow Ball” by Molly Bang.
Pick a good book – one with beautiful pictures and telling words, and see where it takes you. (Connect with me on Instagram to find out what books are interesting!)
1. Look at the pictures and think – can I duplicate a picture for art activity? Or do a craft related to the story?
2. Look at the story- can I create a sensory bin experience? Or role play?
3. Look at the characters or setting – can we read/ research more about the animals or country the story is set in?
There really is no limit to what we can think up. Give it a go and be impressed with what you can actually come up with when you have a good book in hand! Have fun!
Pleasant surprises always bring a sense of joy. In my home learning, I like to leave room for surprises.
I provide my boys with a lot of unstructured time: time for them to feel bored and find things to do on their own. There was once when my eldest boy (10 year old) was playing lacing beads with his sister (2 year old). Out of nowhere, he started taking the strings to try braiding them. I was by the side to give a simple demonstration.
We take time to learn and find answers together. YouTube is a good source for learning almost anything. Recently, our 10 year old has learnt to make a Lego puzzle box (shown in bottom right picture) just by watching a YouTube video. It’s surprising how they can grasp the concept just by watching a video. Not all projects are successful, and we learn through the process of experimentation as well.
Saying “no” or “I don’t know” provides an opportunity for the children to show us what they know and are capable of. They are usually eager to let us know how resourceful they are. For example, I dislike cutting big fruits like watermelon. So when my boys said that they wanted watermelon, I told them that they can have some if they manage to open it. Minutes later, I heard satisfied “slurping” sounds from the kitchen. They did it! (Disclaimer: Prior to this, they had been cutting other fruits and vegetables and knew the safety rules.)
There was another time when my eldest saw his daddy struggling with sewing, so he took up the challenge and completed the task with gladness.
These little surprises keep me sane at home. A teacher-student relationship can be a very stressful one; but in a co-learner relationship, we have more fun learning together. Another advantage is that they are meaningfully occupied for a longer time!
1. How will you give your children time and space to be ‘bored’?
2. What is something you wish to learn from/with your children?
3. How can we model the process of learning for our children?
With the P4 homeschooling exam and the PSLE less than half a year away, stress level at home is unsurprisingly higher this year. It is easy to lose sight of the big picture and spend hours burying ourselves in assessment books and textbooks rather than building “life” in our homeschooling journey. (This term is based on Charlotte Mason’s, a British Educator, belief that we should give children living thoughts and ideas.)
I have always been inspired by Charlotte Mason’s desire for a whole education and one that calls for the osmosis of living thoughts and ideas through books by authors with deep knowledge and special interests in what they are writing. These books of literary character often help our children get in touch with the emotions and ideas of the authors.
Over the years, many things have changed in our homeschool. But we have never ceased looking out for living books and using them as learning materials. We read them, use them for copywork, spelling, dictation and discussion of ideas.
Covid-19 kept us home most of the time and suddenly we are re-reading The Railway Children, The Wheel on the School, Journey to Topaz and other favourites all over again. The learning didn’t stop there. We proceeded to discuss/ learn/ research about things that interest the children – storks, Netherlands, use of dikes, World War II, racism, you name them. Good books never fail to ignite the curiosity in children, not for my children, at least.
Cabin fever? Dig out a few good books from your home library or get some free audio titles available on the Internet. You never know what learning surprises await you.
I don’t know about you, but I remember my kids were always hungry (it’s still the same same now, even though they are older)! So what better way than to show them how to make their own snacks?
“By making our own snacks at home, we can have better control over the amount of their sugar intake and save more money. “
By making our own snacks at home, we can have better control over the amount of their sugar intake and save more money. One of their favourite snacks is Chocolate Rice Crispies, and this is easy for even a 5 year-old to make! You can get the ingredients at a cheaper price at Phoon Huat.
I lay out all the ingredients and the tools required on the table. Mummy, or the eldest child gets to decide who to pour what, and who to stir after melting the butter, chocolate and marshmallows in the microwave for a minute (not over a gas stove).
This is also a good time to teach them about having clean hands! Or else they won’t get to lick the spoon!
Pour the melted mixture into a big mixing bowl with the rice crispies and mix well. Then spread evenly over a square tin lined with baking paper and leave in the fridge to harden a bit for a few minutes. Cut into bite-sized pieces and serve! Any leftover can be kept in an air-tight container.
Rice Crispies (brown, just because) 150g
Chocolate Chips 120g
Mini Marshmallows 250g
Unsalted butter 80g
Vanilla essence 1 tsp (optional)
1. What skills would you like to impart to your children?
2. How would you design your kitchen or arrange your kitchen tools so that your children would know where to get what they need to make their own snacks?
” The simplest activities can be the most rewarding.”
“Wow, this is really amazing!” exclaimed my eldest as she was scrutinising and comparing the growth of a bean under different conditions. “Look at the roots Mummy! Look at how it twists and turns! And the leaves! Wow! Why do two leaves come out? Where did they come from?
It surprised me that so many interesting observations, and inquisitive questions could come from the simplest of activities. A week ago, all we did was to go around the home and gather commons seeds (e.g. sunflower seeds, green beans, soya beans, coriander), put them inside plastic bags with wet kitchen towels, and place them in different environments (e.g dark, cold, bright). Within a week, we had so many things to talk about! And so many things to learn about seeds and plants. We had fun making guesses of the outcomes and coming up with explanations for the results.
The simplest activities can be the most rewarding. And triggers the most creativity from our children, My daughter reminded me that children are born with a natural sense of curiosity- always wondering, always observing, always learning and always discovering. We only need to direct their attention to the world around them. The activities we choose to do with our children don’t always have to be complex or unique. What is meaningful is to discover the joy of spending an extended time learning, sharing, and exploring together.