If you’ve been homeschooling for any amount of time, then chances are you’ve wondered how to make learning meaningful even while using textbooks. Some families like to opt completely out of using textbooks for the fear of their child’s learning journey becoming too much like the very system they’re trying to dodge. Even if you choose to use textbooks, yes, there is a way to do it without feeling like they are hindering your child’s home education experience.
Are textbooks necessary to homeschool?
Short answer, no. Absolutely not. Textbooks have always been a tool to help teach children important concepts and topics. It wasn’t until public schooling that textbooks seemed like mandatory resources in order for kids to learn. The truth of the matter is textbooks provide teachers and parents with an organized way of teaching about a certain subject. Most chapters and information included are laid out in a way that compliments one another and helps with “staying on track.” However, they are not a necessity to homeschool your children.
How to Make Learning Meaningful Even While Using Textbooks
If you’ve decided to use textbooks in your homeschool, there are ways to make learning more meaningful versus mundane.
Pay attention to your child’s behavior.
First and foremost, pay attention to your child’s behavioral cues. If using textbooks seem to turn them off from wanting to learn, consider using something completely different. Textbooks can sometimes be overwhelming and force kids to learn an over-abundance of information. If this is the case, don’t hesitate to set the textbook to the side for the time being.
Use supplemental resources.
Make learning more meaningful by using other resources in conjunction with your textbooks. This can be a variety of activities, projects, or other mode of hands-on learning. For example, if you studied a chapter about force in a science textbook, compliment the lesson with a STEM-related project to show force in action. This will help take the emphasis off using the textbook and more on the lesson itself.
Make learning meaningful by using textbooks sporadically.
There have been many times where I’ve used a textbook for one subject, or for one lesson in a particular subject. Once I’m done using it, I put it back on the bookshelf to use later. There are no right wrong ways to use textbooks, especially in this manner. Contrary to popular belief, you can pick and choose parts of textbooks to use.
Link the context in textbooks to real-life experiences.
When children can relate to what they’re being taught, the learning becomes more meaningful. Tell your children why you’re studying something and how it relates to something in life. Use the opportunity to show them how a concept worked (or what it looked like) in the past versus the present. Then, open the discussion of how they think it may chance in the future.
Make learning more meaningful by getting your child’s opinion.
If your child is able to give their opinion about a textbook, ask for it. In fact, include them in the process of picking and choosing which ones to use. They may also be able to help with other lesson planning aspects such as choosing topics to study, looking for supplemental resources, and choosing activities to compliment. Never underestimate a child’s ability to help with any aspect of homeschool planning!
Take a moment to reflect.
Going hand-in-hand with the first suggestion of paying attention to your child’s cues, it’s also a great idea to take a moment of reflection. Some homeschooling parents wait until mid-year to do an overall review, but honestly, these can be done any time of the year. It’s especially important to do this if you want to gauge how much using textbooks actually enhanced your child’s learning. Ask yourself if it helped you teach, helped your child learn, and was an overall good addition to your homeschool schedule/routine.
It’s easy to question and second-guess yourself when it comes to using textbooks in your homeschool, especially if your primary concern is to make learning meaningful. I’m a homeschooling witness that you can incorporate textbooks how ever much or little that you want and still provide your children with meaningful learning opportunities.