Supplementing Children's Education at Home

Updated on September 26, 2009
N.S. asks from DeKalb, IL
9 answers

My children attend mainstream school and I am looking for ways to supplement their education at home. I have a friend who homeschools and uses saxon books and the robinson curriculum. I like the foundation of the "learn to learn" theory as I want my children to have that skill in adulthood! However- I don't plan on homeschooling- I just want to enrich my kids' potential. After free reading, scouts, sports, and "vegging out" time we still have plenty of opportunity to do stuff. So I am wondering if anyone does this and if so what approach/where to start? Any links would be great!

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I understand that it may seem that I am trying to "overshedule" however, no one knows their child more than their parents. My daughter has asked for a thesaurus and a math workbook for christmas and my son wants to learn more "science things." I am just trying to find resources that will enrich THEIR curiosities. Thank you for the art and music suggestions--I will start with some books/biographies on artists and musicians and look at/listen to some of their works! I do have a "creation station" in my dining room with open-ended art supplies and journals for them as well.

The workbooks at Walmart are not satisfying their needs and I as a mother want to provide them with more so I just thought I'd come on here and see if anyone has had the same experiences and if so what resources did you turn too?

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answers from Chicago on

Music and art are usually what is lacking in the main stream school diet I would get them into art classes and music lessons to round out their education as well.

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answers from Chicago on

I worry that, while you mean well, you may be setting your child up for overscheduling and a whole lot of stress. Your kids have schoolwork, free reading, scouts, sports...a little vegging out is essentially important to give the mind and body a break. Today's kids are constantly on the run to this activity and that program and barely have time to decompress, which can be just as detrimental (not to mention things begin to feel like obligations and chores).

Instead of having constant, 24-7, structured and formalized learning, why not make it more play-based with lots of choice and exploration? Ask your kids what they want to do. Buy a bunch of craft items, put them in a bag, and have them build/create their own masterpieces. Introduce them to new styles/genres of music while they have their own downtime or are 'vegging'. Play with them on their downtime and allow them to take the lead, but ask open-ended questions along the way and encourage their problem-solving and creativity.

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answers from Peoria on

how about instead of a set curriculum, try cooking together.
it involves reading, math and science.


answers from Salt Lake City on

I would suggest "field trips." Studies have shown that exposure to new environments and/or new experiences can increase a child's IQ. Try a trip to the kids museum, the zoo, concerts, art events... Even a nature walk or a trip to the park. Most of all--have fun!



answers from Chicago on

How about trying one of the science based stores, upper end toy places, or a teacher's store like The Chalkboard. There are great kits out there for different science experiements and things of that nature. Our kids loved the ones involving gross stuff or things they can eat. My husband and kids just made a really cool rocket with plans from PBS on line---you might try that as well. I didn't catch your children's ages, but I'd be more inclined to "do things" than get books. Try a few searches on line for science experiments or math experiments and see what pops. Good luck.



answers from Chicago on


I salute you for helping them with this, particularly since they are longing to quench their desire to learn and are seeking to balance their lives, not just schedule, & schedule some more. My daughter was like that, too. Since we switched her to a Catholic school she's much happier and loves her classes, even in advanced classes at our local school she just wasn't getting into the good stuff. She cries on the last day of school because she will miss her teachers & spelling tests! lol. really.

As a suggestion, someone mentioned museums. I'd echo that and say that my husband and I decided when we first married that we'd make Sundays family day. We go to church, have a nice breakfast, pack a picnic then head out for something fun & enriching. The Chicago area has SO much great stuff to do & learn about! Make a list of things you'd like to see & do along with their price (so you can budget as some things cost more, or buy museum passes!) and set a plan with the family. Have a fun family meeting where you spell out the options and see what they'd be interested in doing. Seriously, we're spoiled around here with all the resources. You could each get a Sunday where you get to plan what you're going to do so everyone gets their desired locations & everyone else goes along because they get a turn. It has done wonders for our family's interactions and for us knowing our kids better, including teens. The rule is no one makes outside plans. You can't always do something big, but hey, Cantigny costs $5 for parking and the rest is free. It doesn't always have to be super intense learning, it should be fun or else it's just work. :) I can't say enough what a blessing this has been to our family. Check out for some ideas.

Also, American Science and Surplus would be a great place to take your son for cool things to learn about Science. They're near the DuPage Airport on Roosevelt Road (on the South side of the road, just West of the railroad).

Have fun!



answers from Chicago on

You don't need a curriculum or anything like that to teach a "learn to learn" approach. The most important thing is to model your own love of learning (do they see you checking books out of the library? do you have any new skills you are trying to learn?). Also, engage them in conversations that draw them out, getting them to expand and extrapolate. By doing so, you will teach them the art of communication, and help build up their literacy skills --the foundation for everything.

Take them on field trips, and engage their natural curiosity. The most important thing is to feed their own natural interests.



answers from Chicago on

I would agree that trips out to museums and other options like that help enrich a child more than additional curriculum they are already learning at school. Another option is to teach them something their school doesn't offer. LIke a previous poster mentioned: art, music, cooking, fine arts. I own a foreign language school and would be happy to send you a sample of our Spanish curriculum (ages 3-12). Most schools do not offer a foreign language until the children get older. This is a great addition to any child's curriculum because it opens their brains to more languages later on and increases their vocabulary in English at the same time. We suggest about 30 minutes once or twice a week. It comes with phonetic guides for parents who don't speak Spanish. Let me know if you want more information.
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answers from Chicago on

One of my girls and my son love to get this stuff for gifts as well. I usually just browse the book store to see what they have. Borders has some great workbooks that cater directly to math and/or science. My son has a world atlas that he loves, and a space atlas that gives all the info about planets, stars etc. He can read something and then make you feel like you should have known the stuff too. There is a website that takes kids through games and activities. It helps teach science, math, reading, etc but makes it fun. It might be creative island or something like that. It has been a while since we used it. I usually gave them an hour each on the computer. I think the cost was about $20 a year but not really sure about now. Also, for science projects, has ideas. I use for math worksheets to either tutor or give additional practice on math problems. It is great when the kids actually ask for this kind of thing. I sometimes check out for computer programs so they might have something for you. Caution, they have a TON of stuff and very reasonable prices so you might have a hard time picking something. :)

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