Performance based learning encourages homeschool students to do activities that help them acquire knowledge and apply it practically in life situations. This allows the children to develop skills and practice them in a meaningful manner. Based on the assignment the homeschool student can learn to work more independently or learn to collaborate and work with siblings. Here’s how you can make performance based assessment relevant to homeschool students.
Present a Topic
Ask them to study up on a topic and then present it to the rest of the homeschool class. They can get as creative as they want with the presentation. It can be a computer based powerpoint presentation or a dramatic performance of the historical event. Give them all the scope for innovation and praise them for whatever in depth research reflects in the presentation. Remind them that this has no right or wrong answer. Each person represents the topic based on what they feel is important.
Give a Problem to Solve
This can be a life situation based project. Think of a problem that occurs regularly in the home. For instance chores not being done regularly by everyone, or people not waking up on time each day. Now ask the homeschool students to set forth proposals about how this particular problem could be solved effectively. When they are ready to give their solutions, have a debate with the rest of the class about just how effective they think the solution actually will be. Give extra points for logical thinking and critical analysis of the issue.
Long Term Project
Being excited about a one time event is quite different from being motivated to continue with a long term project. Present the homeschool students with a project that lasts over a couple of months. See how they pick up the skills to work effectively on the project. Are they able to persuade others around them to join in? Can they effectively communicate their need to collaborate with their siblings and other family members? Observe the performance on the project over the long term duration to see what improvements they are able to make.
The greeting card companies came up with a number of holidays to celebrate just so that they could sell more cards. However, you can take some of these somewhat crazy holiday ideas and use them rather productively in your homeschool classroom as a teaching tool. You can pick one holiday each week and celebrate it. Aren’t you glad to know that October is supposed to be National Pizza Month?
Pick the Holidays and Make a List
Needless to say that you will find more than three hundred holidays on the list. Many of which may not be appropriate for your home and family. This means you need to find the ones that you would like to celebrate. So sit down and pick 54 holidays and type the list out. This way each week your homeschool students will have something to look forward to celebrating.
Add an Activity each to the Holiday List
It’s not a celebration until you have done something to celebrate it. The big ones like Valentine’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the like are easy. They come with ready made celebration ideas. It’s the smaller ones like United Nations Day (October 24) that you need to work on. Think up of ways to celebrate these holidays with an activity that is associated with them. For instance for Armed Forces Day ( May 30) you could plan to visit the local Veteran’s home bringing home baked cookies.
Learn Together About the Holiday
Often there may be celebrations about things that you may not be too aware of. In this case make it a point to teach yourself and your homeschool children more about what the holiday represents. There are usually enough ways to get information about a holiday online. You could consider holidays celebrated in countries abroad in order to truly widen the horizons of your homeschooled kids.
The holiday list can be altered each year to add different holidays to celebrate. Keep the old ones that you enjoyed and replace the ones that bombed with something new to discover. You don’t need to be very fussy about the date, as long as you celebrate that week, it’s fine.
There are days at a stretch when you feel productive as a homeschool teacher. When the kids are doing their lessons on time and you are meeting all your scheduled goals. However, this is not always the case. There will also be days when you are in a slump. When no matter how hard you try, things just don’t get done and each passing day sees you go behind your homeschool schedule so much that you never feel that you are ever going to catch up. Take a deep breath and exhale. Now take a look at these strategies to cope with the slump.
Take a Break from the Routine
I know it sounds counter productive when all you need to do is run like crazy to catch up, but a break can actually be rather helpful. It will have you relax and unwind and think without stress about what you need to do next. So take the homeschool children to the zoo, or go with them to the park and play ball. It will help relieve the tension.
Mix Things Up in the Classroom
If you have stuck to the exact same routine when it comes to teaching the different subjects in the homeschool classroom all through the year, you may want to mix things up by switching times for different lessons. You may let them do an easy subject in the morning to set the pace for a productive day rather than start with something difficult when they are still fresh.
Give Your Students a Holiday to Take Time for Teacher Planning
It’s horribly stressful to have to make all the decisions for the homeschool students while they study and still plan out the next day’s workload even as you have not yet finished today’s. So stop stressing out everyone. Give them a couple of educational movies to watch or books to read and let them play after lunch. You can then catch up with all the different things that you needed to do but couldn’t because you were so tied up. It will have everyone come back to the homeschool classroom feeling much better the next day.
The fall is a great time to head outdoors. It’s not quite as cold as it will be with winter snow and not quite as hot as the summer with the sun streaming down. It’s ideal for children who can be bundled up and taken outdoors for a homeschool day of fun and learning. Here are some suggested ideas.
There is a huge crop of mushrooms that shows up on the forest floors during the fall. The decaying leaves make an excellent source of nutrition for them. While your homeschool students may not be that fond of eating mushrooms on their own, they may enjoy the idea of going on a mushroom hunt where they can take photographs of different types of mushrooms that they see.
Building a Scarecrow
The whole concept of protecting what you grow from the birds is an intriguing one for the young ones. You can start with a lesson on how agriculture helps feed humanity and end with a practical where they build a scarecrow. Have them come up with ideas about different materials that they can use. Let them explore how they can get the structure to stand upright and the whole experience will be a lot of fun.
Climbing a Tree
It may be easier to climb a tree when the branches are bare of all leaves. It will allow your homeschool kids to see where they need to go next much easier. Do ensure that you are present when they are doing this activity. Also teach them how to test branches for safety with partially transferring their weight on to them. It’s okay to get a few scaped knees and hands.
Bird Watching and Feeding
As the trees lose leaves, the birds also loose out on food. There are no more easily accessible insects behind the leaves, and there is no fruit to peck at. Teach your homeschool students how to build a bird feeder and help the local birds not go hungry. It’s always a delight when the birds become tame enough to sit on the lawn while you are still there.
The whole day can go to waste if you don’t start it off right. It’s easy to want to sleep in till the last minute and the hustle the children to the homeschool classroom. However it may not be the most effective way to get them and yourself started off. Here are some morning rituals that a homeschool teacher may want to consider adding to their day. Pick one or all of them.
Five Minutes of Meditation
It’s going to be an active day if you are headed to the homeschool classroom to teach your kids. The first lesson on wards, you will not have time to sit and rest. So instead, let’s get that me time in the day before you head out of the bedroom. Once you wake up, open the windows of the bedroom and in the light of the newly minted day, begin to meditate.
Expressing Five Minutes of Gratitude
Sit down with a timer for five minutes and just close your eyes and give gratitude for everything from the cosy bed that you slept in to the rugrats still in bed. It will shift your focus to the more important things in life and you will stress less about the trivial things that will go wrong during the day.
The Silent Morning Cup of Green Tea or Coffee
Another ritual many people follow is to have a quiet cup of tea or coffee before starting off the hustle bustle of the day. This is a time for contemplation and planning. If you can take these few minutes to sort through all that you need to achieve during the day, you will be in a better position to plan your actions throughout the day.
Get Together With Your Partner
Early in the morning is also a good time to spend with your partner. It may be spent in silence together or even to make plans for the day or week ahead. The bond between the parents is just as important to nurture in a homeschool family as the bond between the homeschool teacher and the homeschool students.
There’s a general slump in the homeschool classroom as the festive season begins and the other chores around the house need more time and effort. It’s still possible to homeschool effectively if you have planned out some activities that complement the season. Here are some ideas for indoor fall activities that your homeschool students can get productive with.
Painting Fall on a Canvas
With all the colors whirling around outside it should be easy to paint their impression of fall. Just provide your homeschool students with an easel and paints and let their imagination run wild as they create fall masterpieces. A mixed medium painting may also be experimented with if they want to stick actual leaves from outdoors in the painting.
Clay Leaf Shaped Bowls
Pottery does not always require a potter’s wheel. Find some clay that your homeschool kids can shape into different lead designed bowls and bake them in the microwave oven. You can get easy recipes to make your clay with a quick search online. Many can be made using using ingredients in the kitchen. You may experiment with different clay recipes and shapes to your heart’s content.
Pumpkin Designs Carving
It would never do to ignore pumpkins in the fall. So get a few medium sized ones. Core them out and reserve the material for making pumpkin recipes later on. Now use the shell of the pumpkin to sketch out and carve designs into with your homeschool students. You can start with simple ones if the kids are really young, and then move up the complexity as the years go by.
Baking is a good indoor activity that allows your homeschool students to learn new skills as well as make yummy treats for the family. To make pumpkin pie from scratch is a lengthy and labor intense process. You may want to split it up over a couple of days to ensure that your kids don’t get bored. Get a recipe from a trusted source because you want to be sure that all that effort does not go to waste.
The changing season is a great time for homeschool students to learn more about the environment. As the weather transitions from Summer to Winter, so many different changes can be seen just outside your homeschool class window. Now’s a good time to head outdoors and do a few of these activities related to both flora and fauna.
Collecting Pine Cones to Paint
Take a hike and bring an empty bag to collect all the pine cones that you can find. These can be painted in the homeschool classroom to form a beautiful fall ornament. You can also use them in your Halloween decorations. Plus if you have a fall bonfire, adding the pine cones is always a good touch. You can get a lot of good ideas on Pinterest when it comes to projects using pine cones. Get creative and allow your homeschool students to come up with ideas of their own.
Conducting a Leaf Study
The leaves change color in the fall and are often found littered on the ground. Make it a point to explain exactly what all changes the leaves experience in their life cycle to your homeschool students. You may also like to include a study of plants that tend to go dormant during this part of the year. Take pictures of the plant every three months for the homeschool students to be able to really tell the difference.
Foraging for Berries
Taking a trip to a park where they have bushes with berries is a great way to let homeschool students indulge in nature’s harvest. Make it a day’s picnic and see what all you can gather. The fall is a good time for finding blackberries, elderberries, rosehips, crab apples, sloes, hazelnuts and sweet chestnuts. Of course the best part is getting to eat what they harvested on the picnic.
Helping Feed the Birds
With the lack of seeds and the changing season depriving them of fruits, birds will really appreciate a feeder put out in your garden. Let the homeschool students learn about what kinds of grains different birds prefer and then decide what they would like to place out in the feeder that they build.
Children love to draw and the homeschool teacher can use this to improve their ability to express themselves. By giving homeschool students a variety of opportunities to be artistic, the homeschooling parent can ensure that the children are able to put forth their views in a safe and healthy environment. Plus this activity gives the homeschool teacher some time off to plan for the next lesson or activity scheduled for the day. It can be played anytime once it has been established with the homeschool students.
Playing is always much more fun than studying. So make the experience a game and you will have a lot more learning happening. Have pairs made for this game where one homeschool student can see a picture while the other can not. The second homeschool student is the one with the art supplies to draw the picture. The game is simple, the first child guides the second child with descriptions as the second child draws. You can reverse the roles of the children for a second round of the game.
The first lesson is that of cooperating with each other. The two homeschool students learn to work as a team. Each understands that they depend on the other for the final outcome and both give it their best shot. The second lesson is sharing in detail. The child has to figure out enough words to explain exactly what he is seeing. The third lesson is understanding what you listen to. The second child needs to formulate a picture in his mind based on all the inputs the first child is giving him.
The Skills Developed
The homeschool children have an improved vocabulary as they search for new words to describe exactly what they have seen. They work at the new words together and make for better conversationalists. The drawing and sketching skills of the children will also improve as they struggle to get the texture and tone of their images just right and as close to the original as possible. They get to express themselves both in words and via the medium of art.
Having Grandparents involved in the homeschool schedule is a good idea on many fronts. While legally the grandparents have to be guardians of the child to homeschool them independently, they can always be invited into the homeschool run by the parents as additional teachers. If you are lucky enough to live close by to the grandparents of your children, do take advantage of the help and expertise that they have to offer. Here are some things to consider.
Have Them as Backup
At times parents are unable to meet their homeschool teaching requirements on their own and need some help. Having a grandparent come in regularly once a week to take a specific class or topic is a good way to get started. This way when they need arises, the homeschool students are already used to grandma or grandpa teaching them in the classroom. It’s a great idea to dedicate specific days in the regular course of the week when the homeschool parent and grandma can switch places in the homeschool classroom.
Encourage Them to take Field Trips Together
While an outing to the grandparents home is a good break from the homeschool classroom, getting them actively involved by having them take the kids out for field trips is even better. The homeschool parents get a break. The homeschool students get an educational outing. The grandparents get to spend quality time with their grand kids. The kids also get to learn something new that can be made a part of their study requirements. It’s a total win win situation for everyone.
Have Them Share their Experience
From collecting coins to stories of the family history. There’s a lot of experiences that the grand parents can share with the homeschool students. Why not set up an educational project for the team to tackle together. The children can learn about the many different hobbies and interests of the grand parents as well as gain new knowledge as they present them to the parents in a report. Plus the additional advantage will be a closer relationship bond developing between the grandparents and grand kids.
Part of getting your homeschool students to interact with peers is making new friends. One of the easiest ways to do this is to get in touch with other homeschooling families in the area and set up a play or study date for the homeschool students. Ideally one family will travel to the other family’s homeschool classroom and everyone will learn together. If you are meeting everyone for the first time, it would be handy to have a few games and icebreakers to ensure everyone gets to know everyone in a fun and relaxed environments.
The Unique Me
Everyone stands up and a single person makes a statement like “I brushed my teeth this morning.” Then whoever did not brush their teeth that morning gets to sit down. Another statement can be I ate cereal for breakfast, or I drank a chocolate milkshake today. The idea is to start with saying something common that a person has done and moving on till it leaves just the one person.
If you have teenagers you can make it even more of a unique game. For instance the statements could include things like I play the guitar, or I play chess. Sometimes a unique statement can even include something like I have four brothers. Each child gets to use one statement to proclaim their uniqueness. The longer they get to stand in the game, the better.
The Counting Game
The participants have to count the numbers from one till twenty. The only rule is that they can not go in order. They have to shout out random numbers like 8, 15, 3 and so on till all the twenty numbers have been called out. If at anytime two homeschool students call out a number at the same time, the game restarts. It can take an extraordinarily long time to count till twenty.
Do ensure that one of the homeschool parents keeps track of the numbers called out in each section of the game. It will avoid clashes and actually help the game to end on a positive note. By the end of the game you will have a class full of enthusiastic and energetic children.