Elementary Education: Flexibility in Learning with Homeschooling for Grades K-5Oct 31st, 2011 | By Jessica Parnell | Category: General Homeschool Posts
Customized Homeschool for Grades Kindergarten through Fifth Grades
Each child is a unique individual with his or her own way of learning, so flexibility is key during primary and elementary-level education (generally K-5). Homeschooling is all about flexibility. Elementary education is a time of great change and growth in the life of a child. It’s when their vocabulary and use of language seems to leap forward almost daily (with often surprising and hilarious results). Their physical development is equally stunning; the average boy in kindergarten will double their weight and grow a foot-and-a-half by 5th grade. Social development also seemingly sprouts overnight, with friendships and relationships beginning to take shape. Their brains are developing faster than at any other point in life. They are learning to not only talk, but to interact.
Just as your children go through amazing transformations from the ages of 5 through 10, so too does their schoolwork. How great is the change in course material a child will experience during their primary education? As they begin kindergarten, some children emerge from Pre-K or nursery school already comfortable with counting to ten. By fifth grade, your kids will be studying long division, fractions, decimals, grammar, geography, states of matter and much more. That is an incredible change in only five years!
Given that your child is unique, this is where homeschooling really shines. Your child needs to learn in his or her own way and with homeschooling there are no other students with whom your child must compete for attention. You can custom-tailor the learning experience to your child’s specific needs with laser focus; after all, who knows your child’s strengths, weaknesses and passions better than you? Or, for that matter, your child?
One of homeschooling’s greatest advantages in elementary education is the interactive nature of learning. Through interactions with your child, you – as the parent-teacher – can allow your child to direct his or her studies towards their individual interests, within a range of learning activities. Your child becomes more engaged and interested in the material, which results in superior information retention. This also stimulates your child’s critical thinking skills, as he or she learns to develop connections between concepts from both the real world and the educational realm (such as counting and shopping). There’s no doubt about it, we learn best when we’re interested in knowing more. That’s one of the reasons games make for great learning opportunities.
The flexibility to shift your child’s education to best fit his or her needs is all the more imperative in the earlier years as your child is still developing and adapting to the systems of life. Researchers and educators view parents as a child’s first – and best – teachers. Getting feedback from your child and being able to act on it with them boosts learning, and provides a level of attention few – if any – traditional school students receive.
Primary education is broad-based, tending to focus on the mental, social and physical aspects of life. Kids need to learn, they need to interact and they need to run. Adjusting the schedule of each type of activity to best suit your child and their learning patterns can have surprising results. Some kids learn better earlier in the day, while others start the day with excess energy. Some kids just aren’t communicative at certain times of day (think about some of those “pre-coffee adults” you know!).
Bottom line: flexibility is homeschooling’s ace-in-the-hole. So with all of this in mind, here’s how the flexibility of homeschooling comes in handy as children progress through their primary education:
Kindergarten & Grade 1
Five to six years old is the prime time age for a child’s acquisition of math and language skills. There are many ways for a child to learn language that stimulate the brain: talking, songs, rhymes, reading, music and more. These early interactions are critical, since your child’s brain is still developing and wiring itself. Loving interactions with caring adults strongly stimulate a child’s brain, and help the child’s synapses to develop.
During the early years of a child’s primary education, it is important to establish routines and rituals: from breakfast in the morning to brushing their teeth at night. Classroom routines – naptime or outdoor playtime, for example – give them a sense of security and help your child understand that they can rely on you. By the same token, be responsive to your child’s immediate needs. Given the class size, you have the flexibility to adapt to them on-the-spot.
Grade 2 & Grade 3
The middle period of a child’s primary education – ages 7 – 9 – is a period of transition. Children learn how to work independent of their teacher, and it is widely accepted that the further development of social skills is as important at this age as the more traditional reading, writing and arithmetic. Since children in second or third grade have begun to understand the wider world and how things interconnect, field trips are common. Homeschoolers – much like traditional students – benefit from trips to historical sites and science museums.
Grade 4 & Grade 5
As your child approaches the end of their primary education, this is the period in which you shift focus towards giving them the knowledge, skills and behavior to succeed in middle & high school. Basic skills are expanded, vocabulary continues to grow, and focus is spread more evenly between reading and writing, as well as other subjects like science. As your child progresses through primary education, be mindful of the need for flexibility. Adjust class work to address your child’s weaknesses while continuing to emphasize their strengths. And remember, flexibility is one of the keys to homeschooling success!
What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced with primary education homeschooling?
Additional homeschooling posts:
Meeting Homeschool Music Requirements
One of the biggest questions asked by our Bridgeway Homeschool Academy students is How do I teach music to my homeschooler? Music is another elective that must be covered every year but does not need to be a formal course.