Every homeschooling parent has faced certain amounts of criticism for making this schooling choice. The lucky ones have had the support of their family and friends from the start, but there are some who seem to take on the world for their choice to homeschool their children. When these critics are out putting down your choice either to your face or behind your back, you can handle it with grace.
Don’t Get Angry
Anger solves nothing, it merely forces you to deal with a negative unproductive emotion that causes stress which you can surely do without. There is no reason for you to act defensive as you have done nothing wrong. Maintain a dignified stance and be stoic. Yelling back at them with a “what would you know about homeschooling” is not going to win you any friends. In addition it will vindicate their negative opinion about you as a person.
Remember Some Are Critical Because They Are Uninformed
Ignorance is a major factor in the criticism you receive. These critics may think of you as a lazy person who would rather keep the children as home than take the trouble to send them to school. They have absolutely no idea about the varied things that you are juggling all through the day to ensure that your children spend time in pleasurable learning activities at homeschool. If you can talk to them about what you really do in homeschool, maybe even invite them to teach something to your children, you may find that your biggest detractors become your most ardent fans.
Let Your Children be the Proof
There is no better way to silence your critics than by letting them interact with your well behaved, intelligent children. You can coach your children about what they should say when asked about being homeschooled. Instead of saying we don’t go to school or we study at home to strangers that they are meeting for the first time, they can say we go to Anderson Academy. (You can use your own surname). If they want more details about the school you can step in with the fact that its the name of your homeschool.
Dealing with a number of children in the homeschool classroom, day in and day out with hardly any time to call your own, is not simple. At times it can become difficult to have your loving children even listen to the instructions you have for them without raising your voice so that they will take you seriously. If your vocal cords seem hoarse and the homeschool students more than a bit unruly here are some tricks that you can use to not lose your cool.
Develop a System with a Simple Command Word
Have your children all follow a strict pattern with each new subject being introduced. Let them know what subjects they will be handling all week by putting up a time table. They must put away the old books, take out the new ones and have their pencils on the ready for taking down notes. The basic system should be followed as you as you say a simple word such as “Switch!” This way instead of giving constant instructions and tiring your voice, they know what to do and you don’t lose your cool.
Take Your Five Minute Break Away from the Classroom
Between each switch you can leave the classroom for five minutes. This short break will allow you a change of scene. You can handle some small chore or just sit down and enjoy a glass of juice before returning to the classroom. It gives both the students and the teacher a small respite and also allows you to not get angry over them dawdling over the books as they put them away and take out new ones. If you don’t see them taking forever to do the task, you don’t get irritated and you don’t have to scold them for it.
Have a Verbal Mantra to Calm Yourself
Pick a sentence that helps to calm and ground you. It could be a nice long sentence like, “I am able to control my negative emotions and provide the supportive environment that my children need to grow in to healthy adults,” or it could be something as short as “All is well. I am calm.” Every time you feel like you are going to lose it and start yelling, focus on this mantra.
As some parents have been homeschooling their children for a while before they hit their teens, it shakes them when the sweet, compliant child suddenly refuses to do their bidding. The teenager firmly believes that she knows better than the parent and is not afraid to voice this sentiment. What makes it worse is that the child is confused and conflicted because sometimes she wants to be independent and grown up while at other times she still wants to be young and carefree. There is no single way that works great with all teenagers but here are some general guidelines that would help in dealing with them in the homeschool classroom.
There are a million different conflicts that occur in the mind of a teenager and the homeschooling parent will have to communicate constantly to know what these are. At times the homeschool student will clam up and be unresponsive to the overtures made by the parent. Instead of seeing this as a threat to authority, just give the teenager some time and space to sort through whatever is bugging them. Let them know that you are available to chat if they want to, then proceed to ignore them and perform other tasks. The teenager will talk when she feels the need. Do not lose patience and deliver ultimatums, as that will lead to drama and nothing will actually be solved.
Have Consistent Rules
Even though they have grown up, they still require to follow the ground rules of the homeschool classroom. You may adapt the more childish rules to cover teenage behavior, but the rules must stay consistent. The basic structure of the school day must stay the same. The classwork must be completed before the fun begins, the chores must be done just as they are each day, and any extra activity needs to be cleared by the homeschool teacher before performing. Remember your homeschool teenage student is bound to push you as she tests how much you can take. You have to teach her to submit to your authority with grace and know that you always have her best interests at heart.
Winter can be a tedious time in the homeschool classroom with both the teacher and homeschool students feeling a bit stir crazy. Even if you have snow, it is a good idea to get outdoors at least once in a couple of days to expend all that pent up energy. You can even make it a learning experience using some of these activities.
A Winter Scavenger Hunt
Make a printable list of all the “treasure items” that you need to find. these could include a patch of melting ice, a shovel, an evergreen tree, a snowman, a pine cone, a bird feeder, and even an insect or animal of some type. Have the children come up with all the things that they associate with winter and draw your list from the things they find outdoors. Hand each child the printed list and set off to collect your treasure. This will make for a physical activity with a fair amount of observation thrown in.
Traditional Winter Sports
Some classic activities such as ice skating, sledding, or even something as informal as building a snowman, snow angel or just having a snowball fight can be undertaken. Pick the activity that your children enjoy doing the most when they are outdoors in the winter. Make this a weekly feature that they can look forward to when they are stuck inside in the homeschool classroom. The anticipation of the event is always the most exciting part of the day.
Snow Based Arts
There are a number of things you can do in the snow which require the arts and crafts supplies from the homeschool classroom. For those homeschooling students who love to draw, provide them a larger outdoor canvas. Add some food coloring to water and place it in squeeze bottles. Use different bottles for each color, then mark out a patch in the snow and ask your young artists to draw with the water in the snow. The water will freeze if it’s cold enough and the “painting” will be ready. You can also have them make icicles and set up their own stalactites and stalagmites in a cardboard box using different colored water.
There are a number of moms who teach their children at home and still manage to work from there as well. How they manage the twin challenges is admirable. If you are homeschooling and wondering about starting something new there are some things that you should definitely consider.
Delegate the Inconsequential Stuff
You a single soul with a limited number of hours in the day to work your magic. It is not a matter of concern that you ask for others to help you. Allow your family members to help you without going on a guilt trip. They are allowed to take care of a chore such as laundry, cooking, cleaning up, or running errands outside the house, without you having to feel bad about it. In fact if your older children are helping you, they are learning essential life skills for the future.
Don’t Fall Sick
It may seem like a tall order, or going against nature, but in truth you can avoid all minor illnesses by merely being a bit more careful about your health. Boost your immune system by eating right and exercising regularly. Is it not important to look after yourself before you look after your family? If you fall sick it will be worse for everyone at home. Add some multivitamins to your daily routine.
Set Goals but Stay Flexible
Stress is a killer that totally zaps your energy. You need to avoid it like the plague. You need to set goals in order to know what you have to accomplish, but that does not mean that if you fail to meet a goal in a specific deadline you should get stressed. Think of goals as pegs that you can pick up along the way rather than destinations that you must meet before sunrise.
Have Fun with Your Homeschool Students
The whole idea of being able to do what you want to and homeschooling can be liberating in that respect if you let it be. So take time out to just have fun with your children. Go to the park and play, watch a movie and eat pop corn, take them to the zoo…just get out of the house and have a good time!
There is no fixed structure to how you should teach your homeschool students as long as you get them the information that they need to learn. Because of this, you have great creative freedom when it comes to combining subjects in your homeschool lesson plans. Here are some unusual combinations that can make perfect sense when you think about it.
History, Geography, Physics
Find that combination absurd? Well think about Albert Einstein: if you were to begin with the famous man’s life story, the homeschool students would be learning about history. Then as the story proceeded you would be able to fill in geographical locations where he lived and worked across many countries. That covers geography. You could finish by doing a couple of science experiments based on the physics principles that he used. So in one lesson plan you can cover all three subjects.
ICT, History, Literature
ICT or Information and Communication Technology refers to any multimedia communication on radio, television or the internet. Combine this with historical lessons based on famous writers from the years gone by and add the literature that they produced to create a lesson plan combining these three subjects. You could describe Victorian England as part of history, then read poems from famous poets of the time, and also record videos of the recitations.
Geography, Biology, History
Sit in the comfort of your homeschool classroom and explore the North Pole. Figure out the kind of conditions you would face if you were to travel there as part of geography: the terrain, the weather, the clothes that you will need to survive. Speak of the kinds of life that can thrive in such locations as part of biology. Talk about the polar bears, the plant life, the fish in the sea and whatever else can be found around the polar region. As part of history you can teach about the first expedition that successfully made it to the North Pole, and discuss all the difficulties that they faced.
As you can see it is easy to combine different subjects in a single lesson plan that you intend to use in your homeschool classroom. It just needs some imagination and creative maneuvering.
Each method of homeschooling that you read about may leave you more puzzled than before. What is the right method that you should follow in your homeschooling classroom? Is unschooling really the way to go? Or should you focus on unit studies? Here are some factors that you should consider as you choose the right approach for your homeschooling students.
No Two People Are Alike
Just because one method of homeschooling works for a family you know doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be ideal for your family. Your friend may say classical education is the only way to teach, but you may find that your children do better when left to satisfy their own curiosities using unschooling. Since you are not exactly like your friend, you may have a different teaching method that works better for you.
Children Have Different Learning Styles
Depending on whether your children learn better with visual teaching, auditory teaching or tactile teaching you will have to modify your teaching methodology. Try not to get used to just one method because that’s the one your eldest was most comfortable with either. You need to consider each individual child’s preferred learning style and modulate the lesson plan accordingly.
One Method May Not Be Enough
Just because you prefer a teaching method is no reason for you never to use any other method. Some subjects like literature may be best taught by following the interests of the homeschool students using the delight directed method, while other subjects like science may require you to follow a basic classic education pattern, going sequentially. You do not need to restrict yourself to a single method, you can mix and match what works best for each individual subject and topic.
Educate Yourself and Use What You Need
The best way to approach homeschooling methods is to teach yourself about what is possible. Once you have a good idea about all the methods available at your disposal you can mix and match them to the subjects and children along the way. That way everyone gets the best possible deal out of a specific homeschool teaching method.
In homeschooling, the only person who matters is the child being homeschooled. The objective of the homeschooling parent is not to create a clone who could have passed any regular public school, but a special person who has a well rounded personality with an education that was structured to take their interests into consideration.
Finding Out What Interests Your Child
Anything that interests your homeschool student will bring in its wake a number of questions. A good way to find out if the interest is genuine is to begin answering these question trails. Some interests get easily satisfied with a couple of answers, while others may require days to fulfill. Figure out an interest that can serve your child well in the future and then ensure that you keep it alive. This does not have to be limited to a single specific interest, but can encompass as many things that the child really seems to enjoy.
Feeding Those Interests in a Productive Manner
If your child enjoys reading about a specific subject such as gemstones, dinosaurs, or fast trains, ensure that you find related reading material for them to peruse. Have them head to the library and check out books that can be found on the subject. Pick up information about trade fairs or exhibitions where more can be learned about the subject. Have the child do physical projects involving the interest. Ensure that some free time is devoted to this interest each week. Don’t worry if some topics fall by the way, just move on and encourage the new interests that the child has developed over the academic session.
End Product of the Game
By ensuring that the child learns more about the subject of interest you are giving them a firm foundation to build on later in life. The idea is to ensure that the child gets an education, not just what you want them to learn but also about what they want to learn. The end product of this game is that your child learns how to ask questions and follow their interests, this being a life skill that will always come in handy throughout life.
Pushing a child into thinking and creating for themselves is not really a difficult task. Most children have a healthy natural curiosity which can be easily channeled into creative activities. Here are some suggestions that you can try with your homeschool student to enhance creativity.
Encourage the Interactive Reading of Stories
In passive reading the child merely listens to the homeschooling parent and is entertained. In interactive reading, the homeschool student gets to play a part of the story coming to life. With small children it can be merely making sounds which can be incorporated into the story, such as the barking of a puppy, the creaking open of a gate, the loud scream of surprise of the main character. The more animated the sounds, the better to foster creativity. As the children grow older have them actually enact what the main character is doing. Perhaps even a play can be produced with family and friends engaged in the production.
Give your homeschool student actual class time in the homeschool schedule to come up with a creative project. It could be anything that they can make around the classroom or at home: a new way to store books in the class, a better way to water the lawn, the easiest way to display reference books, a working model for a robotic arm, it could be just about anything. Let the children come up with a productive project that they would like to work on. If the idea is acceptable, they get to work on this project and figure out its schedule on their own. It is amazing how creative they will be when they get rolling.
Celebrating Birthdays and Holidays
Any sort of celebration involves a fair deal of creativity. The greeting cards can be handmade, the invitations for guests can be designed, the venue decorations made, the entertainment planned, and a whole lot more involved with the event requires a fair deal of creativity. By involving your homeschool students in celebrations like these you can help them to express themselves creatively in a number of areas.
As a homeschooling parent you go through considerable preparation before teaching your child something new. Be it a concept or a subject, the homeschool teacher will usually have a detailed outline to follow in the lesson plan. But what happens when your homeschool student is not able to get you? If the painstakingly put together lesson doesn’t seem to be understood by the child, you may be left wondering what went wrong after all that preparation.
The Different Learning Styles
There are three primary learning styles based on the sense a child favors the most. These correspond to the eyes, the ears and the hands. Some children are visually oriented and find pictures, images, graphics and videos the best way to learn. Other are more auditory and need to be told each step clearly. Yet others are kinesthetic or tactile and require a hands on approach where they ‘do and learn’. A physical activity associated with what is being taught makes it much easier for them to learn.
Identify Your Child’s Learning Style
If you are having trouble getting through to your child, it would make sense to identify your child’s learning style and structure your lesson plans based on it. Doing this does not require any test, just some pertinent observation on the part of the homeschool teacher. Here are some clues that you can look for relevant to each learning style.
A visual learner will prefer to read the instructions on their own rather than have you read them. Visual learners also enjoy a lot of color and design in their worksheets. They have a good knack for understanding charts, maps, info graphics and tables.
An auditory learner tends to say out loud whatever you have just said to understand it better. They tend to speak while they are reading a book or watching a movies to process what is being seen or read better.
A tactile learner is the one who can’t keep his hands still. This type of learner needs some physical activity all the time. They find it hard to sit still and are usually tinkering with something or the other. Touching new textures is a particular joy for them.
Once you have identified your child’s learning style all you need to do is ensure that your lessons address the child’s learning style. Then your homeschool student is sure to get you.