Are you a mom whose children struggle to sit still during school? Has that made you afraid to use a curriculum that requires a large amount of reading? Well, you’re not the only one. Keeping my kids focused during reading was one of my fears before we started using Sonlight curriculum.
I have multiple children who are in constant motion. When I read aloud to them, I find them doing headstands on their chairs, chewing on their pencils, and tapping the table.
Finding a curriculum that works for my active children has been a challenge. Sonlight has been a surprisingly good fit, though. Some people assume a literature-based program won't work with active kids. But that's not true!
Take Sonlight Science, for example. These programs offers a mix of different learning methods. Yes, there's reading. But there are also activity sheets, hands-on projects, and experiments. Because the programs address a variety of learning styles, both of my younger sons are doing great with it. They are loving science and learning so very much.
Through trial and error, I have discovered several ways to keep my children active yet focused during reading times so they can pay attention to the stories.
1. Be Active
Have the kids expend some physical energy before starting school. Let them run around outside, climb on play structures, or do some strenuous chores before starting school.
2. Eat Right
Start the day out with a good breakfast that helps kids focus and sit still. If they have a breakfast full of sugar, it will make paying attention that much harder for them.
3. Take Regular Breaks
Have the kids take regular breaks. For us, that means we take a break about every 90 minutes. During this break, the kids get have another chance to get some nervous energy out and have a small, healthy snack.
4. Use Coloring or Notebooking Pages with Read-Alouds
There are times that the kids struggle to sit still despite my best intentions. During these times, I provide them with coloring or notebooking pages to work on while I am reading.
5. Provide Sensory Input for Independent Studies
If my children are working independently, I will have them use a wiggle seat and munch on crunchy apples while they study. If they are struggling, I order some jumping jacks and try again. Some days when we are having a really bad day, we try the lesson again later that day or even the next day.
6. Use Fidget Tools
Providing a basket of fidgets is trick that works! I cannot tell you how often one of our kids will grab something from that basket to use while I am reading or while they are working on independent studies.
7. Mix Things Up
If my child is having a difficult time writing their work on paper, I change things up. I may have them write in the sand, on a gel bag, with a marker, or on a chalkboard. The joy of homeschooling is the fact that things don’t always have to be done the same way. Plus you may find your kiddo does much better writing the words somewhere else.
Think Outside The Box
After thirteen years of homeschooling, I know that no plan is foolproof. At least a couple of days a year our day is going so badly that we take the day off to hike trails or snuggle in bed and watch an educational video. Having special needs kids has definitely taught me how to be more flexible both in my teaching and parenting. I am really glad that Sonlight has tailored a curriculum to be able to teach an array of learners!