Homeschooling a Physically Active Child

by Nancy
(TN )

This is my first year homeschooling our youngest child. (Due to careers and circumstance, our older children were public-schooled, and have all graduated.

Our son just turned six. He is very physically active; I can only get him to sit about ten minutes at a time to do anything school-work related. I am having to basically demand for him to sit to do school related activities.

We are struggling with learning to write and recognize letters, and this just seems "not right" for a six year old. He is bright, if it is something he is interested in knowing (trains and tractors, animals).

Am I expecting too much for a just-now six year boy? I don't know how this child would make it in public school; I am sure I would be getting calls weekly on his attention span, and activity level ;)

I just need some advice, some ideas - thoughts from anyone who has home schooled an active boy at this age.

Hi Nancy
Congratulations on having such a bright and active six year old. He is going to be lots of fun to homeschool!

Firstly, if it were me I would stop trying to get him to sit to do his schoolwork. He sounds very much like his learning style is of a more active kind. Howard Gardner has written several books on this subject and says that Bodily/Kinesthetic learners need to be taught by using physical experiences - hands on learning, role playing and so on. Certainly, a friend of mine always found her youngest remembered things better if she let him wander around or play with something while she was talking with him. And my son always needed to be fiddling with lego. Why not see if you can incorporate lots of movement into your lessons - I am sure it will help, especially if you also capitalize on his love of trains, tractors and animals :)

Reading happens when they are ready and I honestly believe it isn't something you can hurry along. My daughter could recognize letters at that age, but my son couldn't. Just take it nice and gently. Try to read to him lots. And perhaps do physical letter formations such as encouraging him to write in trays of sand or flour. Or lay out letters and words using building blocks (or his trains!).

Please try not to worry about reading and writing. It happens naturally and by allowing it to develop in it's own time you will have an avid reader on your hands. Have a look at some of the ideas on this help with homeschool reading page - it may have some ideas good for you too.

Best of luck with your homeschooling journey.

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active learning
by: Anonymous

One thing I found extremely helpful with my nephew who is also very active and not at all interested in reading was putting letters on A4 sheets of paper all over the house and first showing him the letter on a separate piece of paper with a picture of something he is interested in, lets use the letter 'T' for instance... print off two sheets of paper, one with just a huge letter 'T' and one with a slightly smaller 'T' and a picture of a tractor. Bring him into say the lounge and tell him you are going to play a game, tell him how exciting and fun it is and how much energy he will need to use up to show you how clever he is. He'll soon get excited about it, then show him the picture and letter sheet and say to him, now, you have to find me the letter 'T' which you will have put somewhere in the house where he will be able to find it, when he brings it back to you tell him how clever he is and then move onto another pre - prepared letter. He doesn't necessarily have to be able to recognise his letters yet either as this is more of a matching game to begin with... eventually you can just tell him the letter and not show him the picture/letter card. (Once he gets much better you will be able to play this game using words as well as letters, although be aware that with some words you will need to place more than one of the same letter around the house.) Sorry if that was confusing but I hope it helped :) good luck with your homeschooling journey x

Thanks for your comment. That's a great idea. Julie

homeschooling active 6 year old
by: Tania

Hello. I'm homeschooling a physically active 6 year old boy. We tried school but I kept getting phonecalls to pick him up - too lively! An OT has diagnosed him as a sensory seeker so he needs lots of movement. He doesn't read or write either. I limit any lessons to 5 minutes and if I do 5 minutes a day I'm doing well. He too is into trains and tractors. Otherwise, everyday this is what I do: something with his hands - modelling clay, baking, sewing, junk-modelling etc - this will aid concentration and fine motor skills. Everyday we go out - the beach, a playpark, wood etc. While there I do nature/science - practicing observation and attention (not that he knows) - so how many ....? Do you notice etc .......? We mainly watch the seasonal changes so at the moment we're spotting birds nests and birds making birds nests, types of birds. (and we're building a nesting box and a nesting bag with our hands). Everyday we do lots of read alouds - my son currently loves The Wombles, Paddington, Peter's Railway (brilliant) etc and lots of picture books. He's grown to love books so I know when he finally reads he will love reading. Everyday we play music and I sing to him and make art and writing equipment available. On top of that we're doing a letter and number a week which takes 5 minutes a day and learning about fossils. Hope this helps.

Thanks Tania. It is great to hear how other people manage.

very active
by: Anonymous

My Daughter who is now 14, never could sit down very long to school her. No problem..... I let her stand by the table to do her schooling. She could wander off for a little bit, to get the ants out of her pants, then come back to work more. She sits now that she's older. If I would have known about those large exercise balls back then, I would have gotten her one of them to sit on while she worked, so she could bounce and keep moving that way.

Me, too! (only mine aren't 6 anymore.)
by: K. Summers

There are lots of games to play. Bean bag toss: make large squares of paper with simple pictures tied to the sounds of the alphabet. (Many reading courses already have pictures to go with the letters, use what yours has if you can.) Then say the sounds and have your son toss the bean bag to the picture that begins with the sound. You can use the same idea for learning numbers, too. "What comes after 3?" and toss the bean bag. Bouncing a ball and reciting information, one bounce for each letter/number/fact. Jumping from "stone" to "stone" across a "river" - put papers on the floor as stones, then something to represent the water, and have him step on the "stone" that answers the question. Regular board games. My non-sitters will still often want to play board games or card games. Games do lots for cognitive development. My least likely to read or sit child was inspired by reading a picture book to copy the story line and attempt his own pictures. I wrote down what he dictated, he drew the pictures. Drawing is fun for many kids, so he would draw. I'd have him label what he drew with the letter with which it began: the sun got an 's' beside it, etc. You can do that all while standing, or in the front yard on the sidewalk with chalk...etc.

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