HOMESCHOOLING / MOTHERHOOD

simple schooling : part 1

I'm sure we can all vouch for the fact that sometimes it is the simplest of things that are the most successful, the most enjoyed, or the ones that make the biggest impression on our children. The box that the toy came in is more fun than the toy. The pots and pans get more attention than the expensive entertainment gadgets. A handful of homemade play dough provides longer-lasting fun than the television.

For the past few weeks, I've found that to be true with our homeschooling days. So I thought I'd take a few posts to share some simple little things we've added to our day that have made big impressions. 

simple schooling

One of my "parenting frustrations" lately is a very common one — getting my children to follow directions. 

I send them upstairs to brush their teeth and put on pajamas, only to find them dancing in front of the mirror with the hairbrush. I send them outside to feed and let out chickens, only to find that they let out the chickens but forgot the feeding part. 

There are lots of different reasons for not following directions–distraction, forgetfulness, sometimes even stubbornness.  

So we've added a simple "following directions" game to our homeschooling day. 

simple schooling

I sit a jar of colored cubes
on the kitchen table and the girls start the game by waiting in the school room. We begin the game with very simple directions:

Walk into the kitchen and bring back 1 yellow cube. 

I do not repeat the direction. And I am picky — if they don't walk, they didn't follow directions. Slowly, the directions get more complicated.

Take 1 green and 1 red cube into the kitchen and bring back 3 green and 1 white cube.

Again, I don't repeat the directions, and I see them putting memory cues to work — one whispers the directions to herself. One mimes the directions with her hands while she walks into the kitchen. 

Then I begin to add some physical activity to the game :

Skip into the kitchen and bring back 2 green cubes and 1 brown cube.

Do 5 push-ups and then …. etc. etc. 

Eventually I get really tough on them. I give them a task to do while holding in their minds what cubes they'll be responsible for. Yesterday, we played right before lunch…This was their final direction to follow. We had worked our way up to one this difficult and I did repeat it one extra time:

Touch your toes ten times. Walk upstairs and wash your hands. Come back to the school table and take 3 green cubes and 1 black cube to the kitchen. Bring back to me 3 yellow cubes. 

This game adds so many great things to our day. For starters, they love it. (And the mommy with pregnancy brain has to write down the directions on a post-it note in order to remember them.) It gets them moving. And we refer to it often during our day, when I do give them multi-step directions. "It's just like the follow directions game.

It's nothing earth-shattering. It's simple. It's making a big impression. And lots of good changes.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: 

Have you seen the new "branch" of the Simple Living Media family? Simple:Homeschool

Happy Friday and happy weekend friends. I'll be back with a few more simple school ideas next week, barring any major changes in the size of our household. :) 

I'm sure we can all vouch for the fact that sometimes it is the simplest of things that are the most successful, the most enjoyed, or the ones that make the biggest impression on our children. The box that the toy came in is more fun than the toy. The pots and pans get more attention than the expensive entertainment gadgets. A handful of homemade play dough provides longer-lasting fun than the television.

For the past few weeks, I've found that to be true with our homeschooling days. So I thought I'd take a few posts to share some simple little things we've added to our day that have made big impressions. 

simple schooling

One of my "parenting frustrations" lately is a very common one — getting my children to follow directions. 

I send them upstairs to brush their teeth and put on pajamas, only to find them dancing in front of the mirror with the hairbrush. I send them outside to feed and let out chickens, only to find that they let out the chickens but forgot the feeding part. 

There are lots of different reasons for not following directions–distraction, forgetfulness, sometimes even stubbornness.  

So we've added a simple "following directions" game to our homeschooling day. 

simple schooling

I sit a jar of colored cubes
on the kitchen table and the girls start the game by waiting in the school room. We begin the game with very simple directions:

Walk into the kitchen and bring back 1 yellow cube. 

I do not repeat the direction. And I am picky — if they don't walk, they didn't follow directions. Slowly, the directions get more complicated.

Take 1 green and 1 red cube into the kitchen and bring back 3 green and 1 white cube.

Again, I don't repeat the directions, and I see them putting memory cues to work — one whispers the directions to herself. One mimes the directions with her hands while she walks into the kitchen. 

Then I begin to add some physical activity to the game :

Skip into the kitchen and bring back 2 green cubes and 1 brown cube.

Do 5 push-ups and then …. etc. etc. 

Eventually I get really tough on them. I give them a task to do while holding in their minds what cubes they'll be responsible for. Yesterday, we played right before lunch…This was their final direction to follow. We had worked our way up to one this difficult and I did repeat it one extra time:

Touch your toes ten times. Walk upstairs and wash your hands. Come back to the school table and take 3 green cubes and 1 black cube to the kitchen. Bring back to me 3 yellow cubes. 

This game adds so many great things to our day. For starters, they love it. (And the mommy with pregnancy brain has to write down the directions on a post-it note in order to remember them.) It gets them moving. And we refer to it often during our day, when I do give them multi-step directions. "It's just like the follow directions game.

It's nothing earth-shattering. It's simple. It's making a big impression. And lots of good changes.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: 

Have you seen the new "branch" of the Simple Living Media family? Simple:Homeschool

Happy Friday and happy weekend friends. I'll be back with a few more simple school ideas next week, barring any major changes in the size of our household. :) 

30 comments on “simple schooling : part 1”

  1. How fun! There is a very similar schooling “game” to this in Montessori classrooms and the children always love it.

    Can’t wait to meet the newest member of the family! xo

  2. This is such a common problem, for every age and stage, and really, I think, for every human. I love the simplicity, scalability, and potential in this game. Thank you for sharing.

  3. What a great idea! I’m nowhere near the schooling age but even at two my son loves a little challenge and I thin the colored cubes will add a little something to our day. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Following directions is a current challenge at our home as well. While we don’t homeschool, we of course still have a responsibility for all aspects of our kid’s educations. Simple ideas like this can help all parents, so thanks!

  5. Brilliant–love this clever ‘game!’

    I’m working with my 6 year old on what we call “follow through.” As we do something together, we talk about how most tasks have several steps, with the final one being ‘cleaning up and putting away’ in many cases. (Honestly, I need the ‘follow through’ lessons as much as anyone in this house!)

  6. I’m ordering a jar of these pretty little cubes tonight from Amazon . . . then I’m starting your method on my husband!!! The kids are gown and don’t have to follow my directions any more, so I think it is high time that hubby gets a lesson. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    I won’t be following up with a success story I don’t believe . . . I’m doomed to failure! 🙁

  7. Genius. Every morning I give three simple instructions…brush teeth, get dressed, make up bed. Every morning my boys miss one or all of these simple steps…

    I’ll be incorporating this into our day for sure! Thanks for sharing!

  8. great use of gross motor activity too. a perfect ‘warm up’ to sitting at a table and following boring regular directions. this is a techinique we use in therapy and is well documented. love the twist with the cubes.

  9. I play a very similar activity–I’m a speech pathologist (right now, that is!) and work with preschool-aged folks. I really believe that incorporating movement is one of the best ways to learn and that block game is a favorite–they sometimes don’t even know they are ‘working’–which is the best learning of all!

  10. What a great idea. I was getting worried while reading your post because the instructions kept getting more complicated! I thought I wouldn’t be able to remember them that easily.

    Thanks for putting my mind at ease and letting us know that you wrote them down 😉

    Great post about homeschooling. I’m starting to research the topic and I love this idea. Thanks!

  11. I was JUST talking to a friend about this frustration, and this is absolutely the perfect solution to my oblivious and flighty little butterfly. I am starting this ASAP. Thank you so much!

  12. How I love this!

    What else do you use these centimeter cubes for? I’m trying to decide whether to get some like these or click-together ones for making patterns and games. I guess I’m really trying to determing whether we really need these or I could use something else. 🙂 These look fun! Are they a worthy addition for those of us who don’t have them.

  13. Smart mama!

    I do a version of this, but it’s quite different—more for cleaning up bad attitudes. If the kids are having trouble following directions, then I tell them they need practice. They know they have to listen to my command, say ‘yes mama,’ do the task, and come back to ask ‘what next.’ The tasks are simple—put that hat away, fold the blanket and put it on the back of the sofa, push the chairs in around the table, etc. We do this until they have shifted from whiny, grumpy kids into willing, cheerful, respectful workers.

  14. Hi Angela,

    It’s hard for me to say because I have both and use both a lot. I use these cubes for counting, pattern games and for lots of “behavior” kinds of things. They’ve always been really handy. But at the same time, the unifix/linking cubes are an invaluable part of our math studies.

  15. Molly… I think I’ve revisited this post 3 times now. Thank you for such a brilliant idea! (Tucking your link in my sidebar…)

    I am praying for you as you approach the finish line! God cups you close! So, so soon!

    Love to you…All’s grace,Ann

  16. I just found your blog and I love this idea! Funny, when the instructions got more involved I thought “Ooof how will I remember?” On cue I read your “tip” of writing it down! I currently have a newborn. My kids attend public school but I’m always looking for things to do at home. Especially with summer approaching. Thank you!

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