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.
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.
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. :)