Homeschooling is an effective way to incorporate school into real life. Unlike sitting in a classroom reading about math and science, every day situations can be used to teach the child about important subjects. This method helps make the concepts concrete, helping the child to better understand and remember them. Having the child complete chores is a great way to do this, while teaching them to be responsible members of the family at the same time.
Health is one subject that can be taught by having the child help do laundry, dishes or scrub counters. They can learn about germs and how they make people sick. They can learn how various cleaners (only safe, non-toxic cleaners should be used if the child is in contact with them) work and why we use certain ones for different jobs. Instead of using store-bought cleaners, making homemade, nontoxic cleaners could count as science experiments. This will involve measuring and reading directions, incorporating math and reading at the same time.
If animals are in the house, the child can learn how to properly care for the pets by keeping the area clean. Explain why bathing the pets is important and discuss how it would feel to never have a bath. Talk about how animals can have germs, too, and become sick if they aren’t taken care of. Learn why animals need different foods from humans or from each other.
Folding laundry is a great way for preschoolers to learn about colors, size and personal property. They can learn to sort by category and how to match pairs. Sorting the laundry before washing also teaches them to sort by color, patterns or like fabrics. Small children can fold washcloths, incorporating shapes.
With supervision, even very small children can help make meals. Through cooking, the child is learning to measure ingredients, read and follow recipes, learn from trial and error what happens when a meal is left to cook for too long and why it’s important to properly cook foods. Cooking the same foods at different temperatures can show the child how quickly or slowly something cooks. They can experiment with different foods to see what tastes good together, and what doesn’t. Allow the child the opportunity to write his own recipes and follow them to see if they work. Discuss what could have been done, and try it out the next time. In doing this, the child is learning how to conduct scientific experiments, and learn a lot about cooking in the process.
Social studies can become a part of cooking, too. During the holidays, most families have traditional foods that reflect their culture. Turn this into a lesson as you talk to family members to find out where the traditions came from and who thought of them. Use the Internet to look up different recipes that are traditional in various cultures and pick one. Have the child make a mural depicting popular foods for different cultures at the holidays.
One of the most important aspects of running a household is budgeting money. This can become a lesson for a homeschooled child that incorporates social studies and math. Make a grocery list of items before leaving to go to the store. Have the child read over the list to become familiar with it. Bring a calculator, and tell her how much money is allotted for the shopping trip. Once there, teach her to compare prices to get the most products for the money. Allow her to use the calculator to keep track of the bill. This chore will keep her busy while shopping, help her learn how to shop wisely and teach her about the value of money.
Teaching a child how to manage a house is important in helping them prepare for adulthood. Using chores gives the parent an opportunity to teach academics along with learning life skills. Showing the child why learning is important, and helping him understand that he will use these skills in his every day life, helps make the lessons more real and less of a task.