Written by Alecia Baptiste.
My children are now ages 11 through 19, and homeschooling has greatly changed for us over the years.
I don’t have babies or toddlers running around the house. Everyone is reading fluently and independently.
Sometimes I forget how challenging homeschooling was in the early years.
One particular memory I have is of teaching my youngest son to read.
He was about 5 years old and a very active little boy. He loved running, jumping, and playing. (He’s now a competitive athlete at age 13.)
Every day we would sit down to do his reading lesson, and it was like medieval torture for both of us! He dreaded the time. I would threaten and push my way through.
Reading wasn’t hard for him. There were no reading issues. He just didn’t like sitting down for this “boring” lesson.
So I decided to try an experiment with him.
I added movement to our reading lessons.
It worked! Instead of sitting on the couch or laying across my bed, we went out into the backyard.
He would sit on the swing as he read a list of words. Once he completed reading, he would be allowed to swing.
I made it so fun that reading stopped being torture, and it became a game: Read a little. Move a little. Read again. Move again.
This kid still loves to move, and he LOVES to read!
Be encouraged, my friend. You can teach that active kid of yours to read successfully.
Here are a few other ideas you can use today:
1. Read a story to your child, and stop reading at the height of the action.
Leave a cliff-hanger, then have them read.
They’ll be more motivated to read since they will want to know what happened.
2. Turn work into a game.
When reading a page of sentences, I would give my children clues. But then they would have to read the sentence in order to discover what I was referring to.
For example, I might say, “You do this some mornings.” The sentence might say something like, “I eat toast for breakfast.”
Or I might say, “Your brother really likes this.” Then they would have to read the sentence to find out what their brother likes.
My children loved this! It turned a boring page of sentences into a game.
3. Alternate focused work with active play.
Have your children read for a certain period of time, say five minutes.
Then let them swing, jump rope, roll on the floor or hop, or play with Legos or draw.
You may want to set a timer so it doesn’t get out of hand.
4. Have them move while they work.
I used to allow my children to jump rope while spelling words, or skate while working on memory work, or jump on the trampoline.
Also, just having a kid squeeze a ball while sitting still, sitting on those big exercise balls instead of chair, or bouncing a bouncy ball is enough movement to keep them focused.
5. Use several shorter, focused lessons rather than one long lesson.
6. Use a timer.
I have found that this is the key to productive and focused work. The timer allows your child to see that there is an end in sight.
And using a timer helps us both stay focused for short periods of time, so we actually accomplish more in less time.
7. Read to them a lot.
Having stories read to them and seeing people read instills in them a love for reading and learning.
If you’re struggling to teach an active kid, take one of these ideas and use it today. These ideas also apply to math, writing or any skill you’re teaching your child.
Do you have active kiddos too? What tips would you share?
Yes! My 10 year old is my active, fun-loving child, and I wrote a post similar to yours (in link above). Another tip I’ve discovered about this personality type is that this child has a lot of “body intelligence” but may feel like s/he isn’t as smart as other kids. Of course this isn’t true, and it’s great that homeschooling can meet the needs of the active child, because other school environments can kill this child’s spirit (too much sitting!).
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Thank you for these tips! I love using a timer for things – clean up, getting ready, reading, and quiet time. Did you have a reward system for getting them back to a lesson after the timer beeped for the free play to end? I’m always nervous that once I’ve lost their attention – they’re gone. Or was it just a habit you trained? Did your lessons last “all day” then because of the number of little breaks?
Sorry for all the questions – I really enjoyed this post and just want to know more 🙂
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Cara, no apologies needed for the questions. ???? No I did not use a reward system and my lessons didn’t last all day. My children actually acomplished more in less time because they were focused. Focus can take you a LONG way!
These are all great tips. Getting my extremely active daughter to focus on a lesson was difficult sometimes, but we used many of the same ideas you have. A friend gave me a mini-trampoline that we kept in the family room and she used it every day-to work out the squirmies, to jump while reciting math tables, etc. A timer was one of the biggest helpers from an early age, it helped her to know that she would have to switch gears and gave her time to prepare for that.
The mini trampoline can be a life saver for those active kids! And for mom to sneak in a little workout. ????
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Thanks for sharing. I love the idea of alternating work with play. Play is work for children when they’re being creative or developing their bodies. Elementary kids are young. I think we forget that too often as we plan rigorous lessons that involve much sitting.
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Love these ideas! Thanks for sharing!
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Thanks for suggesting that I encourage my kids to read their books for a certain period of my time. This would work well for my daughter, who really loves books, and I think that she’ll grow fond of them more. However, she struggles with numbers and Math concepts, so we might need to hire a private tutor for this subject.