Learning to Teach with Small Lessons

Wether you are a Parent, new Homeschool Mom, or Teacher (without a formal education), taking on the task of teaching can be quite overwhelming. You may not have gone to post secondary school to learn how to teach but it's okay. While you may not recognize it... you have been innately gifted with the ability to teach. From day one being around a child, you have taught them something!  

Humans have been teaching their young without that college ed since the beginning of time, and it is no different today. Many prefer to send their offspring into a school to acquire knowledge, but the truth is, it doesn't HAVE TO BE DONE that way. 

So you're probably here reading this hoping that it can help guide you with this task at hand. I'll do my best to get you well-oiled for your new situation. It doesn't matter if you're trying to give your child some extra learning moments during the summer, or if you've decided to home educate, or if you've taken an early education teaching position... these notes, steps, or tips will help you!  So take a minute and grab some basics... Coffee, Coke, Healthy Brain Drink... Paper, Pen, and maybe.. sticky tabs (they are my favorite). 


Starting Small 

If you remember your own time in school, you may recall how you needed to take a large chapter and break it down into sections to study. The idea is the same for teaching children. Obviously, if you're focusing on pre-k to 5th..the smaller the lesson, the better. Older children can handle more depth into subjects, but little ones struggle with attention spans, so you need to take your topics and break them down to 2-3 minute lessons. 

Ex: Topic is on Anatomy. That's a huge one..so let's dissect it. Anatomy is broken into Systems right, Integumentary, Circulatory, Respiratory..etc. So Let's start with Respiratory > Lungs > Breathing > make an inflatable lung craft. 

Lung Craft would be ONE small lesson. Maybe you would talk a little about breathing, and then make the craft. But that's it. The next day, you can talk more about how the lungs push oxygen around our bodies.  Then slowly build each day until you've covered the system.  If you're trying to cover the whole of Anatomy for a younger child, consider that most of the detailed information won't be covered at this age. 4th and 5th grade are great levels to incorporate more detail, more activities. 6th grade and up is easy to find curriculum for these types of topics. 

Easy Lessons 

Instead of dropping loads of money on curriculum books for every topic you want to cover, look into small shops online that create lessons. Like my website, these shops create small lessons that often incorporate Videos, Songs, Crafts, Recipes, and Beautiful printable activities that easily fill your needs.  You can piece them together to build as well. 

Ex: I want a Human Body Systems Chart- I like this one from Montessori Factory> 


But I also want to show systems of the body, so I'll add something else... 

You can see how child friendly these printables are, how beautifully created they are, and the information given is helpful but also easily understandable for you and your child. 

Building a Unit Study 

As the children get older, or you become more passionate, we work on creating diverse, hands-on, and information thick lessons. What I mean by this simply..is we want more. Today, it is so easy to get inspiration for unit studies on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube. I'd be lying if I told you I didn't use those. The downside is it can be very overwhelming, often lacking instructions on how to teach them, and quite the money pit.  Here I'll show you a few pointers on getting started. 
1. You don't NEED to download a free unit study planner. Remember those brainstorming charts you did in high school? Today they are known as a Mind Map.  Start drawing those bubbles and filling them in with your ideas!! If you want to download the unit study planner to streamline your materials, I do have a FREE one here.
2.Think of the lesson requirements - Main topic- reading- history- science- can I incorporate some math or English into this? Art appreciation? Music? Crafts? Recipes? Nature walk? It doesn’t have to include all of this, but some predesigned unit studies have a lot. It simply gives you the flexibility to use what you want. Some people use unit studies instead of curriculum so it’s common to see Math and writing involved. 
3. What type of learner is the child? A visual, a listener, or a hands on? Maybe all three? You need to carefully consider this and make sure there is some part that allows them to learn. Ex: Put a small puzzle out while you read. It could also be play dough, mad matter, or a quiet sensory tray with themed items (I love safari toobs for this reason). These allow them to have busy hands but also listen. Or incorporate videos or silly songs to help them attain the information. 
4. Build your idea list on Amazon. Yes..they have idea lists. You can organize them by topic too. This will allow you to find many resources for that topic and narrow down what you really want to get. 
5. Utilize the library (unless you have educational dollars to spend). You can often request, reserve, or have the library order a book now. So build your book list and see if they can have them all at once. This saves a lot of money!
6. Join local homeschool groups on Facebook. This is for support, encouragement, and opportunities. Maybe you can ask if anyone has a specific game you could borrow too!
7. Don't forget the fun! Ok, so you've got books, puzzles, games, science... make sure your activities are age appropriate and not too time consuming. This takes the fun out of learning if it becomes a chore. You also don't want all of your unit studies to look the same. A child will only want to do so many Mad Libs or Digs before they are ready for something that engages their brain in a different way. 
8. Time to plan it all out. Gather your items, go through your books, and figure out how much you can do each day. WHEN are you going to do it? Morning Basket? In place of a class lesson? After main lessons? Here is how I plan mine out: 
  • One Picture Book a day
  • One kind of activity (to completion) 
  • One section of a chapter book 
  • One writing assignment

You can always switch things out, but this gives enough of something for them to do, and keep you on track to finish. Don't fret if you never use everything you gathered...it happens to most of us! 

The Benefit of Digital Bundles

One of my newest loves are digital bundles. Especially the ones that have some of my favorite shops. Now, my kids are older so I don't use everything in the bundles, but the low price is sooo worth it. If I found a bundle with diverse lessons then I'm already stocking up on material to use throughout the year! If you're paying a discounted price, chances are you save money. I always use about 5-10 lessons from a bundle and that would've equaled double the bundle cost or more!  Don't be shy about taking a look at them. Yes, you need to download them, and yes you will have to print what you need, but the alternative is hundreds of dollars for heavy curriculum that you may or may not use. Once downloaded, it's yours forever. So you didn't get to something one year...well it's there for the next!



Preparing Your Space

It's important to stay organized when teaching. This world opens up the path to become a hoarder easily. Find what works for you, but remember to unclutter often. I'm a big fan of magazine holders for separating topics, and file folders for keeping printables organized. 

If you need more tips or questions, don't be shy, message me!