The Week Ahead In Your Homeschool Classroom

Setting a Homeschool Schedule for the academic year can be a daunting and often time consuming task. What makes it worse is after you have decided just what you are going to do each hour in the homeschool classroom, you realize that the schedule needs constant readjusting to stay on course with the original plan. Don’t let that give you a head ache. Here is a simple secret to setting good homeschool schedules : Accept that they will change constantly.

Does that mean you will never get what you planned done?

Not at all. Instead of making a homeschool schedule in detail, just write down your major homeschool goals for the academic year. Have this list posted in the classroom where you can refer to it easily. Now next to this you can stick what you are going to cover the next week in the homeschool classroom. Make sure to include free time for the children to pursue what they wan alone. Add some quality family time or activity everyone can do together and feel happy, creative and satisfied. Being a homeschooling family means that you have the flexibility to cover what you want when you want to.

Have clear major goals so that you can break it up into smaller activities

A major goal is the achievement that you wish your child to have at the end of the academic year. Suppose the major goals are – get proficient in reading grade appropriate books, writing grade appropriate vocabulary and expanding general knowledge. Achieving this could be something as simple as writing a five hundred word book report of every book they read in the year. This ensures that the child is studying reading (Let them pick the first couple of books), writing (the book report will ensure this) and creative thinking (allow them to retell the story in their own words).

If you let them read one book per month at the end of the year they will have twelve book reports to show for their effort. This is the smaller activity that you have divided your major goals into. The written book reports are a great way to record the success of your major goals.

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Helping Your Homeschool Student Face Exams

Testing is a relatively ignored concept in homeschooling. As long as a visible difference in skill sets is seen by the parent the child is not usually subjected to tests and exams. However as the grades increase there are a set of formal exams that your homeschool student is likely to face and to this end you must prepare them.

Self Study Based on the Syllabus

If you are busy with other children in the homeschool classroom you may encourage self study. Introduce the concept of the exam and what exactly they will be tested on. Then let them master the concepts in the syllabus. Get them sample test papers that will allow them to check their own proficiency in a non threatening and stress free environment. Do not put any pressure on them. Allow them to study at their own pace.

Study With a Group

Some children do not have the self discipline and motivation required for self studies. In this case you could help them study for exams with a group of other homeschoolers who are preparing for the same. They could have a fixed tutor or each homeschooling parent may take turns to instruct them on the different subjects they need to cover in the exam syllabus. Working in a group with a common goal can be an excellent incentive to study hard.

Study Using an Online Course

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a large group of homeschoolers in the same age group in their locality or town. In this case you can get your homeschool student enrolled in an online course. This will retain some of the benefits of group studies as they can chat with other students in the forums and solve common problems. At the same time it will allow them to proceed at their own pace, much like they are used to in the homeschool classroom.

Study With a Private Tutor

A private tutor will be able to give their full attention to the homeschool student and will have a good idea of what they will face in the exam. This will allow the child to learn how to deal with the up coming exams in the best possible way. Finding a tutor is easy if you look at the local educational institutes.

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Dealing With Uneven Skill Sets in Homeschool Students

Even though you may have decided to homeschool your child to allow him to learn at his own pace you may be worried that your child is not picking up all the core subjects as well as he should. Is your homeschooler lagging behind what you would consider age appropriate skills for his grade and age? Most children are able to read basic texts by the time they are five, and your homeschool student is already 8 and refusing to read. Or perhaps your homeschool student only wants to read story books and not write anything. Does that mean that you are not a successful homeschool teacher?

There is no need to panic

Having been given the freedom to learn what they would like to learn most homeschool students develop uneven skill sets in the formative years. Some may be fantastic at doing math sums but hopeless when it comes to writing an essay or a book report. This happens because they have been focusing on what interests them and practicing that more than the other skills. While you may feel that they are lagging behind in some subjects, the truth is that they are way ahead in another subject as well. The balance is there, its just not conventional. So when you compare them to peers in regular schools you feel that they are not learning all that they need to know in that particular grade.

Later is better than never

Your homeschool student will come around to the other subjects and skills at a later date. As they grow older and need to pass the mandatory exams based on your State’s rules, you can regulate their learning to accommodate the skills that they have not yet mastered. They will be more likely to pay attention to the skills that will be tested once they have understood what the syllabus of the exam consists of. Being motivated to do well in the exam will enable them to focus on subjects that they do not intrinsically find interesting. What counts in the end is that they learn what is needed, how soon they do this is not that important.

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Real World Treasure Hunts With Geocaching

Setting up a treasure hunt is always a great way to engage homeschool students in a physical and mental activity. The clues give their brain just as intense a workout as the actually running around to find the treasure does to their bodies. If your children love going on treasure hunts they are going to love geocaching.

What is Geocaching?

As per their website Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. These hunts are taking place all the time and all over the world. Just punch in the coordinates you are at to locate the closest treasure and get hunting!

Benefits of Geocaching for Homeschool Students

There are a number of concepts that a homeschool student can learn as they hunt for a geocashe in the real world. The first would be mastering how to use a GPS. This will make them familiar with the shape of the Earth, longitudes and latitudes, and how exactly satellites help make GPS work. Besides all this theoretical knowledge they would also get a chance to actually implement what they learn by way of hunting for a geocache.

Most geocaches are located in areas away from cities and usually involve a hike. This can also be made into a combined group outing with friends and family. Also when you take a geocache you have to leave behind a replacement of greater value. This can be a good brain storming exercise when you find the container. Writing about the whole experience in the cashe log is also helpful in getting the homeschool students to express themselves.

After finding a few geocaches they can even plan to set up one of their own. Going through the process of deciding what the container will be and where it will be hidden is also a good exercise in logistics and planning. Submitting it to the website and finding out that another person has traced what you had hidden generates its own excitement. That is why geocashing is a great teaching tool for homeschool students.

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Homeschooling and Socialization

“Oh, you homeschool your children? Aren’t you worried about socialization?

For those of you who have been homeschooling your children for years and have found that they are well adjusted and loving individuals such a question can actually be quite irritating. There is an assumption that children who are homeschooled are unable to mix well with other children their own age. This is a modern age myth related to homeschooling which, like all myths, is false .

They may not be competitive and aggressive but…

Most homeschool students are not used to competing with peers on a regular basis. This makes them less aggressive, and honestly speaking that is not a bad thing! Does this mean that they will be quite and meek and never learn how to be competitive all their lives? Not at all. The minute you put them into a somewhat more competitive environment, these children also release their natural instinct to do better than their peers. It is natural instinct to want to do better than those around you and homeschool students are no different.

They do not end up as social misfits

Till the turn of the 18th century most children were educated at home. There was no regular school that children went to, so everyone was homeschooled as a norm rather than an exception. Did that mean that all these people were social misfits? Not in the least. Even today the children who are homeschooled are not misfits. They may actually be more mature than their regular school peers and are better able to handle peer pressure. Is that such a bad thing then to be homeschooled away from stress and pressure?

Social engagement is possible from homeschool

Interacting with peers is not restricted to school, there are after school activities in which homeschooling children can participate. Sports at the local community center, learning a musical instrument, joining an art class, and a whole lot more such activities can help in the socialization of homeschool students. Even getting two homeschooling families together once a week for a combined class can be a good idea if you have friends who homeschool their children.

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Handling “Labels” in the Homeschool Classroom

The behavior of children is subject to a multitude of “labels” these days. The health care professionals, teachers in school and just about anyone who interacts with children is looking to fix each child under a convenient label. Autism, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), slow learner, twice exceptional, and gifted are a few such labels that are bandied about. How do you as a homeschooling parent handle a child who has been labeled?

Each Child is an Individual

No two individuals are alike and this is true for children as well. If one of your children is shy and retiring, the other may seem more boisterous and active. This does not mean that either of them is not normal. Human behavior parameters are judged on what is acceptable in social situations. So as long as your children are able to interact with other people in a normal manner, they are considered normal and should not be tagged with any “label”.

What if a “label” exists

Some medical condition or intelligence test may throw up a label that actually fits your child. Now what do you do? The first reaction of a child who is labeled is a need for isolation. They feel that they are not a part of the normal society and they need to hide who they are. in some cases they even hide their abilities so as to appear normal and fit in with the crowd. As the homeschool parent cum teacher, you need to ensure that your child is at ease with the label he has been nominated with. Let him accept it as a part of life.

Don’t expect miracles

Even if your child has been labeled gifted or talented or whatever other term used medically, you as the parent must not expect the child to be perfect all the time. There will be a desire to push the child to his limit to see just how well he can perform, but this will just add pressure and stress the child out. Instead allow the child to explore his limits on his own. Tell him that its okay not to be perfect all the time.

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Qualities of a good homeschool teacher

Think of the teachers you still remember fondly from your childhood. What set them apart from the teachers you never want to see ever again? Teaching is not an easy task and not everyone is blessed with the qualities of being a good teacher, but some basic traits are common to all good teachers.

Patience

Most good teachers have an extra ordinary reserve of patience. They can sit through silly questions, deal with uninterested students,¬†and lack of resources. They genuinely believe that what they teach the child will make a difference to the child’s future. They seem to know that if they repeat the same lesson often enough with patience it will sink into the heads of the most obstinate learners. They do not mind repeating everything twice and will gladly help you with your work over and over again.

Actually Listen

Most adults pretend to listen to children. They will ask you a question and expect one of several stock answers. They do not take the time to actually listen to what the student is trying to say. On the other hand a good teacher will regularly get input from their students and actually listen to what they have to say. Once they understand the difficulties and problems they set about trying to solve them for their students. This is what sets them apart from other teachers.

Encouragement

Some teachers want to teach you and leave the classroom, others want to test you till you fail to give the right answer. There are very few who actually give you encouragement to face the problems by giving you possible solutions. They boost up your morale and help you build self confidence by giving you the ability to attack your problems and solve them. This gentle and continuous encouragement plays a big role in the child’s development and is reflected in his personality.

Kindness

Perhaps the most important quality of a good teacher is kindness. There is nothing quite as welcoming to a child than an adult who has their best at heart. Trust me a child can spot a fake adult a mile away, so be genuine and be kind. There is no other way to the heart of your homeschool students.

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What can a homeschool student help with around the house?

Most homeschooling parents need to be fantastic organizers to successfully manage all the household tasks and the homeschooling lesson plans each day. The good news is that since you have your children at home, you can get them to help you around the house with some basic chores. No matter how small they are there is always something that they can do. Here are some suggestions that may be reviewed in an age appropriate manner.

Taking care of the family pet

The feeding of the pet can be handled by just about the smallest child. A little instruction on how to go about doing it followed by a practical demonstration are all that is required to get them started. Be it a dog, cat, hamster, turtle or fish, your child is capable of feeding the pet. Of course grooming and taking them for a walk may not be the best idea for a small child but an older one can take that on as well.

Helping around in their room

The children can be taught to keep their own room tidy by ensuring that toys and books are always put away in the right place. They can be asked to settle their clothes in their cupboards when they come from laundry. Encourage them to dress themselves in clothes that they pick out. Explain why some clothes are worn together while others are not. These tasks will reduce the time that you spend in their room doing chores.

Small stuff to do around the house

If they are willing to lend you a hand after they have finished cleaning up their room, you can ask them to do simple tasks like filling up water bottles to put into the fridge, setting the table for a meal, and even washing up their own plate and glass after eating. Older children may be even allowed to take the trash out and help wash the car or clean the windows of the house.

Every task that they master makes them independent and responsible human beings. So while you may initially feel a bit guilty in making them do these chores, you may remind yourself that in the not too distant future they will have to do all this and more.

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Rigid Vs Relaxed Curriculum: What works in Homeschooling Classrooms?

Learning is a continuous process which takes place even without formal instruction for most children. While teaching children at home, parents do not remember that daily routine activities can be just as instructional as formal lesson plans that they follow in the homeschool classroom.

Those new to homeschooling have very rigid ideas about how they want the children to learn the curriculum they have picked up for their grade. However over time the homeschooling parent will understand that being relaxed and flexible can be just as effective while teaching young children.

Fixed time for formal study and worksheets

As there are fixed targets that you would like your child to achieve in the school year, and some of these may be defined by the state you live in, you will want your children to spend some fixed amount of time per day on formal learning. This will involve instructions about new topics with worksheets to consolidate what they have picked up. You can formally analyze this learning in an end of week report per subject that you have taught that week.

Some time for unstructured learning

All work and no play makes your children not just dull but highly irritable. So in each day’s schedule you must ensure some fun. And guess what these activities can be educational as well. Start with tasks that make them more independent, such as tying their own shoe laces, and then move on to tasks which help them contribute to the upkeep of the house, such as watering the plants or feeding the pet. These little chores that they learn will help to boost their self confidence while giving you a little help at home.

Some time for fun and games too

Work and learning can become boring, so give them some time to do what they want to do for an hour or so. This small chunk of time is for them to spend as they want. So if they want to play outside, paint a picture, read a story book, or watch some television, they can do it all in this time. The daily routine should be fixed so that each activity gets its own slot and there is a predictability in the routine which will comfort the child.

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Are You Being an Over Critical Homeschool Teacher?

As a parent it is your job to teach your child when he does something wrong, how to solve the problem. However by becoming over protective and over critical you may be harming your child more than helping. This becomes even more of a problem if you are the only homeschool teacher for the child.

Why is being corrective all the time bad for your homeschool student?

You have to correct the mistakes your child makes, be it putting the wrong foot in the shoe or making corrections in their spoken or written work in class. By constantly telling your child what he or she is doing wrong you are not allowing the child to think. Once you have told him that a sum is wrong, don’t jump to give him the right answer right away. Please let the child work out why the sum went wrong, and then correct it. This will build long term problem solving skills rather than dependence on the parent.

Offer corrections but only when they are required

By allowing your child to solve their own problems you help boost their creative thinking, but by leaving them to handle something too big for their age you could rob their confidence. Consider if the issue is one that is age appropriate for your child to solve. Does your child need a couple of hints or a little bit more in the “known facts” department before he can solve the problem. In both these cases parental assistance is appropriate and should be provided.

Issues where being over critical is allowed

Does that mean that you must never criticize your child? You would have to have the patience of a saint to be that peaceful. No there are some areas where being over critical is actually in the interest of the child. For instance physical safety training. There is no way you can sit back and let your child play with fire, electrical sockets, knives, and other danger things without yelling at them. The difference is that here you are actually ensuring their safety by being over critical about these issues.

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