An increasing number of parents are choosing to educate their children at home. Here’s how to use educational toys to further your child’s learning as well as tips for organising learning activities at home.
Homeschooling on the rise in Australia
In 2019, as many as 20,000 children had been registered for home education across Australia and that number is growing steadily, particularly among parents of children with special needs and who have difficulty finding traditional schools that can accommodate their children’s developmental difference.
Although homeschooling has long been viewed as a lifestyle choice, a recent survey by education researcher Dr. Eileen Slater found that only 19% of families cited this reason for educating their children at home. 57% of respondents said their homeschooled their children because mainstream schooling simply didn’t work for them.
In most Australian states and territories, parents have the legal option to register for homeschooling and take over their child’s learning regardless of their educational background. With homeschooling, parents or a registered teacher provide education at the child’s place of residence.
If you decide to become your child’s educator, you will be expected to:
- Design and implement an educational program (home education programs must be aligned with the state and/or national curriculum)
- Create an acceptable learning environment at home
- Provide resources to promote learning
- Monitor, assess and submit annual reports of child’s progress
To be eligible for homeschooling, children must be at least 5 years and 6 months old and younger than 18 on December 31st of the year of registration. In some states and territories, children cannot be enrolled in school and registered for homeschooling at the same time barring medical exemptions to full-time participation in either.
Parents in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Tasmania and Victoria are allowed to have their children registered for both school and home education.
Why use educational toys for homeschooling?
Friedrich Froebel, the German educator who is widely credited for creating the concept of kindergarten, believed that children learn best through play and games. He put forth the idea that by encouraging children to express themselves through individual and group activities that facilitate natural learning processes.
That was why he introduced “Froebel’s gifts and occupations” to the public – a play set consisting of educational toys with open-ended design, such as wooden building blocks. These toys are meant to promote child-initiated play and learning.
One of the best things about homeschooling is that, though parents may be required to follow the state and/or national curriculum, they also have freedom to create and schedule their children’s educational programs.
This gives you the opportunity to incorporate the use of educational toys that facilitate natural processes that aid in your child’s development. Teachers Choice offers a wide variety of educational toys that can help you with homeschooling.
How to effectively use educational toys for homeschooling
- Consider your child’s interests – The great thing about home education is that you don’t always have to work with pre-determined modules. You can choose materials that are aligned with your child’s hobbies and interests.
- Make sure the toys are age-appropriate – Whatever toys you choose for homeschooling, always make sure that your child can handle them without getting hurt or frustrated. Educational toys should be appropriate for their physical, mental and emotional capacities.
- Choose toys with open-ended design – These toys can be used in many ways, serve more than one purpose and will grow along with your child so that you get the most value out of them.
- Go for safe and high quality materials – Small children like to drop and bang objects, so make sure to invest in safe and durable educational toys. Wooden toys also happen to be an eco-friendly choice that appeals to families that believe in sustainable living.
More tips for homeschooling children of different ages
- Manage your time – Depending on each child’s needs, you may have to set a schedule in such a way that every one of them gets your undivided attention. For example, let the older kids engage in an independent activity while you help the little ones with schoolwork. This helps you focus your time and energy to help each child learn better.
- Expect different outcomes – If you decide to have everyone work on the same task, make sure to differentiate their outcomes. A toddler won’t have the same results as a 10-year-old and vice versa. Further, when organising group learning activities for children of different ages, find commonalities in the curriculum and make adjustments to make sure everyone benefits from the task.
- Minimise distractions – Knowing how to keep your children focused on learning activities is the key to successful home education. Remove any distractions by switching off the TV, for example.
- Have a back-up plan – Make sure to have back-up activities and materials ready just in case something doesn’t go according to plan. Bad weather might spoil your plans for an outdoor learning activity, for instance, or you might find yourself running low on supplies. In any event, be ready to give your children something else to do. This will keep them on track and prevent them from getting bored or frustrated.
Teachers Choice provides educational toys that promote learning and development. Visit our shop today to find eco-friendly toys recommended by teachers all over the world.