As the harbinger of consequences for your homeschool students, you must always remember that they should be aimed at teaching them how to make wiser decisions. The actions that they take should not be thoughtless. The homeschool students may be childish and make mistakes, for this they should not be punished in anger. However when they act foolish, where they know they should not be doing something and do it anyway.
You break it, you fix it
Here the action taken results in an unfavorable consequence and the homeschool student is asked to take further action to remedy the situation. For instance should an art project leave a mess on the study table, the homeschool student will then be asked to clean it up so that the next lesson may be performed. Or if they spill some of their juice during the break on the study table, they need to bring the absorbent tissues and clean it up. This helps the homeschool student address a problem and find an acceptable solution.
The homeschool student has been given certain expectations, a set of instructions or even simple rules to follow regarding a privilege. However these are not followed and this results in taking away of the privilege on a temporary basis. For instance they have been told to clean their paint brushes with water and keep them away after they finish their painting. The child does not clean the brushes and so the homeschool parent first instructs them to clean the brushes and then takes away the painting activity from the class schedule for a week.
This essentially is a period of time given to the homeschool student to regain control of themselves. If they have been disruptive in the classroom, be it intentional or not, they will be asked to go and sit down in a prefixed area for a certain number of minutes. It can be a good way to show consequences for minor misbehavior. It teaches the child the importance of taking a step back and regrouping when they get too excitable to be productive.
As a homeschool teacher you are aware that every action you take has a consequence. In fact even not taking any action can have consequences. This is something that children do not always know. It is a necessity to teach them about consequences.
This is the type of consequence which would naturally follow whatever action or choice the homeschool student makes. For instance if the child is running on the sidewalk and trips and falls, he will end up scraping his knees. Or should the child go out into the backyard without wearing a warm coat in the winter, he is likely to end up getting exposed and probably developing a cold or fever.
These are the consequences that came naturally into the child’s life following their actions and does not require the homeschool teacher to administer it. In most cases the consequences are the same when the actions are repeated and the child will eventually learn not to take that particular action of the consequence results in pain or hurt. The parent can point out the natural consequence when the child is doing something questionable.
These are the consequences that are related to the action and administered with the purpose of teaching the homeschool student a lesson. They are usually provided by the parent or other authority figure. For instance if the child writes on the wall with markers, the parent will make them clean up the markings with a bucket of soap water and a wash cloth. This teaches the child not to repeat the behavior. It also shows that the house must be cared for.
If the homeschool student leaves the cycle out in the snow, logically the homeschool teacher may take away the privileged of riding the cycle for a week. Teaching the child that taking care of the cycle is a responsibility that goes along with the privilege of riding the cycle when they want to. The consequences must always match the action and teach the child a lesson. It is to help them make wiser choices, not to indulge in punishments to help ease the anger of the homeschool parent.
A number of homeschool families choose not to take a long break from studies like regular schools do. Still a short break from the homeschooling routine may also require a settling in period for the homeschool students. Here are some back to school rituals that others have adapted successfully into their homeschool classrooms.
A Start of Session Photograph
One of the simplest rituals can be taking a picture and putting it up on the notice board. The homeschool teacher can ask the students to write notes of motivation and wishes to stick up around this picture on the notice board. This gives the children a sense of a new beginning to the next grade. It’s a great way for the entire homeschool classroom to get started off on the new session. It’s a good idea to store this photograph and take another one at the end of the session to mark the changes and growth in the children through the time period.
Cover the New Books
The new textbooks can be covered in talc and the new notebooks, pencils, pens and other items of stationery can be divided up among the homeschool students. Areas designated for their storage can be filled up and the children can be told where they are expected to place their things for the next session. Most of the places will be the same as the previous session, but it’s good to go over it all again after the break. It will also avoid tussles between the children at a later date when they are delving into the space on each other’s shelves
Write and Recite an Inspirational Pledge
This can be a formal event with everyone standing and speaking the pledge. You could include words that ask them to apply themselves diligently, to study what interests them and to perform better than they did the previous year. Have each child come up with one task or skill that they wish to master and speak it out individually after the group has said the first pledge together. It’s a promise to themselves that they are making at the start of the new year.
Reading about an experiment and doing the experiment yourself are very different experiences. The practical, hands- on approach to teaching science is much more likely to be successful when dealing with curious homeschool students. This means that you need to set up a science lab for your homeschool classroom to encourage practical learning. It doesn’t mean that you need to incur great expense.
Stocking Your Science Lab
What should you look at stocking up in terms of equipment to conduct science experiments? Beakers, test tubes, evaporating dishes, and more such equipment is commonly found in science laboratories. However getting all this material can be a problem when homeschooling on a shoestring budget. What you need to do is get as much of your equipment as possible from things lying around the house.
By re-purposing stuff you already have to work as science lab equipment you will be able to recycle the stuff that is lying around the house, as well as save some money by doing so. You will still need to pick up some things like test tubes, but you can always use aluminium cans instead of beakers. Also try and make a list of all the experiments that you are likely to conduct in a school year.
Know What You Need
Having a list of experiments will make it easier to figure out exactly what equipment will be required that academic session. You can then figure out if you have things at home that can be used, and just what all you will need to purchase. List your requirements on the homeschool forums and groups that you are a member of, so that you can connect with other homeschool teachers.
Many homeschool parents can get second hand equipment from such connections at a fraction of the price that you would pay for in the market. Make sure that you have goggles to save eyes from possible splashes when doing chemical experiments. Also add a fire blanket to the list so that you can contain any experiment gone wrong. Ensure that the children do not conduct any potentially dangerous experiment without adult supervision.
The words of a homeschool teacher hold great sway over the behavior of a homeschool student. What a parent conveys to a child, is what the child begins to accept as his reality. In order for the homeschooling parent to ensure that the child is living up to his or her true potential, some amount of constructive criticism needs to be added to regular doses of praise.
When to Praise a Homeschool Student
Praise the student immediately after the behavior has been completed. It makes a much bigger mark in their mind that way. The child will feel good about the behavior and will attempt to repeat it in the future. This reinforces the desired behavior pattern. The parent does need to ensure that the praise is genuine and heartfelt, as most homeschool students come with a built in radar to sense the parent’s true emotions.
When and How to Criticize
No one appreciates being told off. Not you, and not your child. However if there is an error that needs to be corrected, the homeschool student needs to be informed about it. The idea is to reach out with constructive criticism where the child is told clearly what the error is, and then given a solution at the heels of that. This ensures that the error is correctly in a desired manner. It should usually be done when the error is committed so that the child can understand what went wrong.
The Sandwich of Motivation
It is easier to get the homeschool student to listen and agree with you when you are praising them. Not so much when you are criticizing them. So the best way to dole out constructive criticism is by sandwiching it between bouts of praise before and after. That way the child does not feel picked on and will be more receptive to what is being communicated. Start out with what the child did right, praise the point, then move on to what went wrong. Give the solution to the problem, then fall back again to praising the effort that the child has made. It will be far more motivating than mere criticism.
There is a lot of material available on the internet and homeschool families regularly take advantage of this fact. Unfortunately, not all of them do it legally, some don’t even realize that they are breaking the copyright law. Here’s a ready reckoner to help you understand if you are violating copyright laws.
What is a Copyright?
Copyright laws hep protect the Intellectual Property of an author. This means that the story, poem, or novel, that is written by the author belongs to the author. Say for instance you create a worksheet on multiplying fractions, then decorate it with some doodles, you have created an original intellectual property. Now if you add this worksheet to a homeschool forum you are sharing it with the members of that forum for their personal use.
How can a Copyright be Infringed?
Your copyright to the worksheet you created will be infringed if someone from that homeschool forum takes your worksheet and puts it up on another website for sale. They are, in effect, stealing your intellectual property and hoping to make a profit from it. This action is called an infringement of the author’s copyright. As the creator of the worksheet you can take them to court over this infringement if they are earning money from your worksheet.
When does Copyright Violation become a Crime?
In the United States commercial copyright violation involving more than 10 copies and value over $2500 is a felony. So if the person has sold your worksheet more than ten times and has earned over the two and half thousand dollars it no longer stays a Civil Court case, but becomes a Criminal Court case. The punishments for the crime now have far more stringent repercussions.
The example of the worksheet introduces you to one type of intellectual property. The images that are often posted on the internet are also protected by copyright laws and only the owner gets to post them again. Same is true with the content written on various websites. So each time you wish to download and use some material, make sure that you get the permission of the copyright owner so that you can legally use the intellectual property.
There is so much paperwork generated in the average homeschool academic session that it can be quite a difficult task to choose what is to be added to the homeschool student’s portfolio, and what can be left out. Here are some guidelines to make this task easier on the homeschool parent putting the portfolio together at the end of the school year.
Monitor the Progress
It is important to understand the purpose of the portfolio. The homeschool teacher is putting together a set of documents that show that the homeschool student went from a particular point in their state of knowledge to a higher one. Look at the tools used, activities done and written work that support this progress. These are the things that need to go in, not just a random bunch of memories and photographs.
Showcase the Best
You don’t need to add all ten worksheets done on addition to prove that your child can now add. You just need to pick the worksheet on which he got the best scores. That way the examiner knows that the child has picked up the skill. Future college counselors know that the child was diligent in his formative years, and yes has a desire to excel.
Trace Emotional, Physical and Spiritual Growth
The academic growth of the homeschool student is the primary purpose of the homeschool portfolio. However there is also the need to trace how the child has grown in other manners over the past academic session. Did he volunteer at a charity event? Do something nice for a less fortunate soul? Spend time with someone who needed help?
All these events also help the child grow. However these achievements are not to be showcased in the formal portfolio. You can have a secondary portfolio which can serve as an unofficial memory book or scrapbook. It will allow the state certified teacher a better look into just how much your child has picked up in terms of life skills in the past year. While it may not be an officially required document, it will be an invaluable one to the homeschool student when the child grows up.
In order to be state compliant homeschool parents are required to have end of the year portfolios for their homeschool students for at least two years. This includes a record of all the work and activities that have been undertaken in the homeschool classroom.
It can be quite a daunting task as the homeschool teacher must now sift through all the material that was covered and then decide what needs to go into the representative portfolio. One that will be checked by a state certified teacher. It can be quite a draining task, but one which may be made simpler if a few basic guidelines are in place.
Have the Stationery Ready
You will need a binder, page protectors, and a printer ready to take print outs of essential additions. Ensure that everything is ready and in place before you start building the portfolio. Then block out a chunk of time when you are unlikely to be disturbed as this will take all your attention.
What Goes in the Portfolio
The first thing that you need to add is a Resource List. This is to include all the different sources of information that you used during the school year. So it would be easier if you started this off as a document on your computer and keep adding to it every weekend. It will include books, websites, and just about any source that you may have accessed. Now take a print out of this document at the time you are putting the portfolio together.
The next things you need is the Daily Schedule. Sure we understand that there is no typical daily routine in homeschool. You do what you have to do and focus on what comes next. However, you do originally have a plan about what you need to do each day. That’s what you need to document on this sheet of the portfolio. It is to give the person an understanding of what you do on a typical day.
Now make a list of all the Extracurricular Activities that the child has undertaken during the year. Music, sports, dance, art, it doesn’t matter what the activity was, as long as the homeschool student did it during the academic year. It gets to be listed here. This can include a section on all Field Trips that were taken as well. Attach the field trip report and photos of activities undertaken as well.
Common reaction to standardized tests include stress, anxiety, teary eyes, and often temper tantrums. However if the homeschool parent can make the standardized test appear as more of an adventure or a challenge to overcome, the homeschool student can be in a much better state to handle the test.
Teach them to identify their stress
Once the homeschool student is aware of the source of stress, they will be in a better position to deal with it. You can’t find a solution till you define the problem. Ask them to check for physical symptoms like a tightening of the stomach muscles, headache, and even shortness of breath. Then ask them to take a deep breath and release those feelings. Tell them to speak to you about their fears and help them work through the anxiety. They should know that it’s not the end of the world should they score badly in the test.
Monitor their eating and sleeping habits
Physical health plays a big role in maintaining a good mental attitude. If the child is sickly and weak in body, the child is not going to have the mental strength to push through. By ensuring that your homeschool student is eating healthy food, and getting enough hours of sleep at night, the physical aspect can be looked after. If they are not getting enough exercise, ensure that you have them outdoors playing a game, or simply out for a jog. The activity itself can work as a wonderful mood lifter for the child.
Monitor self talk and add in motivation
Children have easy to train minds. If they begin repeating in their heads that they can push through any challenge and obstacle, they will be unstoppable. As a mentor and guide it is up to you to ensure that they have to negative self talk, as it can be immensely disturbing for them. Give them small motivational pep talks, encourage them to do better, and praise them each time that they reach a personal milestone. It will help them stay more confident when they actually go in for the standardized testing.
Teaching homeschool students is easy as compared to figuring out just how much they have retained what you have taught them. One of the tools to check if your homeschooler is doing well is a Standardized Test. The homeschool parent has a number of options available in this. Here are some which you can look into having your homeschool student appear for.
- California Achievement Test (CAT)
- Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS)
- Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS)
- Stanford Achievement Test (Stanford-10 or SAT, not to be confused with the College Board SAT).
- PASS test (from Hewitt-standardized but not nationally normed)
- Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT)
Advantages of Standardized Testing
In regular school the students undergo testing as part of the curriculum and their educators and parents get a good idea about the competencies that the students have gained in a specific subject. In the homeschool environment, the homeschooling parent may not always have a clear picture of the child’s capabilities even if they are setting them regular tests at home.
By having the homeschool student take a standardized test, the homeschool teacher gets a clear look at the ability of the student. The results can be compared to peers of the student and accountability can be taken for just how much the student has learnt in the homeschool set up. Since the tests are set by someone else, the teacher has no way to coach the child to do well. This brings in a very objective result in terms of what the student truly knows.
Disadvantages of Standardized Testing
The homeschool student will feel an undue amount of pressure when undergoing standardized testing. Not every parent has done formal testing for their child and going into such a situation can be quite stressful. The child can feel nervous and anxious. This in turn can affect their performance in the test. It is up to the homeschool parent to ensure that the child does not read too much into the result of the test. To make them understand that it is merely a tool which lets them understand what needs to be improved.