Morning time is routinely great in our homeschool. That’s when we do all of our together stuff – Thinking Tree Dyslexia Games, Daily Geography, Spelling You See, Art, History, read alouds, and documentary lunch. But our afternoons routinely brought out the lurking honey badgers within my children. Afternoons are when I split my kids up to have time with each of them for the subjects that require honing in to their individuality – reading, math, and handwriting. It was the transitions that were killing us. Who would have to do the work first? Who would get to do a carefree scuttle to the basement to play? (Insert wild animal fighting sounds.) Then there was the extraction of the basement fun child back upstairs for school and the lingering bad attitude about it. It was miserable. Something had to change.
So I turned to an old education friend… learning centers.
Learning centers solved our transitions problem, but even better, it created a space in our homeschool day for the myriad of things I’m always thinking would be great to do but never manage to eke out time for.
Learning Center Tips
- If you’re a Pinterest person, start there. Learning centers are the perfect application for many of the ideas that you’ve been curating but haven’t figured out how to fit into real life.
- If your kids hate a particular learning center activity, drop it immediately. If learning centers aren’t fun or engaging, they lose their magic, and all you’ve done is created a new fight to have every day.
- Make a long list (literally!) of all of the possibilities and rotate through them. Make it different every day, and don’t repeat any specific activity more than once a week (at least). Listening centers are the exception to this rule. We do a listening center every day, and it never gets old because BOOKS.
- The biggest key to making learning centers successful is planning ahead. I keep almost all of our learning center materials in one off-limits-to-children box so that after lunch I can quickly grab a couple of ready-to-go centers and hit the ground running. I took a “professional day” to prepare all of my centers – printing things off, laminating, ordering products from Amazon. I cannot emphasize this enough – PLANNING AHEAD IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS HERE. If you don’t make it incredibly easy on yourself ahead of time, it will be a pain in the ass and you’ll give up.
Do learning centers sound like a good solution for your homeschool, too? I’ll be working on a series where I list our tried-and-true learning centers by subject: fine motor, spatial reasoning, math, and literacy. Any requests for which category I should tackle first?