The Perfect Anywhere-School Tool

by Katrina Fujisaka

Originally published in October of 2007 in the Sentinel

The moniker 'Homeschooling' is a kind of misnomer for me. Actually-I think it is for most of us who have decided to tackle the task of educating our children. It evokes visions of well-groomed, cheerful children patiently sitting at a table, rapturously staring up at their mother, hanging on her every word. This Wonder Mom is dressed in a perfectly pressed outfit, with her hair, nails, and make-up beautifully done. She smiles serenely at her offspring, gently and patiently leading their little minds down the path to intellectual greatness, all while supper simmers away in the spotless kitchen. Yeah, whatever.

Those of us who are homeschoolers, though, know better. I am a blessed mom, and I know it! My kids are good kids and get their beds made and bodies dressed most days without trouble. The Hallelujah Chorus resounds if their hair is combed and their chores are done. And that is just for their appearance; I am often schooling them in my jammies until well into the afternoon. Jammies are comfy; why change? I do manage to get my hair brushed most days.

The biggest reason Homeschooling is a misnomer, though, is that we are rarely at home! We can most often be contacted on our cell phones while we are on field trips or driving to piano lessons, baseball practice, or church activities. Because our family moves so often, I have spent countless hours in cars, on trains, in airports, and on airplanes with my kids. And I have found the perfect school tool that every homeschool mom should keep in her purse for such travel/waiting occasions-sticky notes!

Oh, the versatile sticky note! You can teach a toddler letter recognition. Write a set of lower case letter sticky notes and a set of upper case letters and play matching games on the car window. Mix up letters to form words on the airplane tray table. Teach number recognition the same way. Write the numerals 1-10 on "stickies" and mix them up. Then your child can place them in order on the airport floor (or other passengers' luggage, as was our case).

Older children can play wacky sentence games. Write various nouns, verbs, pronouns, etc. on different "stickies;" then have your kids arrange them into sentences. Goofier is better, as long as the sentences are correctly structured. Sticky notes are not limited to English lessons. You can drill math facts with sticky notes, too. I have even used them to make a map of the United States on the floor: write the name of a state and place it in the correct position relative to the states around it. The resulting map is weird looking and very funny to a 10-year-old boy.

With a little bit of imagination, and a whole bunch of sticky notes, you can turn dead time into unique educational fun. And when you've finished using them, wad them all up and have a paper fight with them! (Although I would not recommend doing that in an airport-they tend to frown on that kind of behavior. But then, they don't like it when you race the luggage carts, either.)

You can leave your thoughts, comments or suggestions here on my feedback page. Thanks!

- Katrina