December 10, 2010

Who says school isn't fun?

It’s Friday, which in our homeschooling means “school games.”  Monday through Thursday we have our normal school routine, but I’ll save that for another time.  When the end of the week rolls around, we break from the pattern of the other four days and play.  The kids don’t even think we’re doing school on Fridays, which makes me consider spilling it over into other days of the week.
Educational resources

Essentially “school games” are glorified review sessions.  They reinforce new skills and information, and are a great way for me to assess what they’ve learned and what needs more work while we all have a great time together.  To prevent monotony  we usually do something different each week, unless the kids have a favorite game they want to repeat.  One common denominator is that all the games are played in a question-and-answer format. 
I often choose a board game from our vast supply and change the rules as I see fit.  I’ve also had the kids select a stuffed animal as their proxy to make its way to a finish line across a path on the squares of our kitchen floor with each correct answer.  Last week we used a miniature plastic playground and little plastic animals from their Fisher-Price Little People collection.  The kids’ correct answers sent the animals step-by-step to the top of the playground to be “king of the hill” with incorrect answers sending the animal down the slide to start over again.

Zach and his
newest proxy
None of this takes any real planning, which is a help to me.  Most often I don’t know what form the game will take until Friday morning comes.  But all week long I keep in mind what sorts of things I’ll be asking them, using the whole experience as a tool to improve their education from Monday to Thursday.

The winner earns points in a larger-scale game, a year-long contest we have set up for them.  The other contestants get a few points too, depending on what place they come in.  We always continue until everyone has finished.  Once in a while I’ll throw in an extra prize for the first place winner, like the right to the last brownie left in a pan, or some spare change from the bottom of my purse.  Every so often we’ll make it a team effort sort of game, where the kids work together to earn things like ice cream for dessert or some other special treat for the whole family.
Sadly for our ninth-grader Scott, these games are just for our younger three kids, the two eight-year-olds and the six-year-old.  Scott will often sit in on the games to lend me a hand or just to watch the fun, but then he has to return to his more mature workload.  He has outgrown his “school games” days, but I suspect Plane Geometry might be more fun over a little game of Parcheesi.

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