Helping More Methodical Homeschool Students Work Faster

Some children can finish an hour’s worth of reading in half an hour, and others can turn a ten minute writing assignment into an hour’s work. Children work at different speeds. Some are quick, and others who seem slow, are actually very methodical learners who need to work things out in their heads before they share it with you. How can you as the homeschooling teacher help speed up such children? Here are a few ideas that may work.

Use a Timer

Methodical thinkers will try and work out all the possibilities in their head before completing the task at hand. When they are aware that they have a limited time available to complete the task they will work in the time given to them. Although while some homeschool students seem to find timers a useful tool to organize their time, others find it stressful to run against the timer and can not focus on what they need to do. Use a timer once or twice to figure out which way your children react before you decide to use it regularly.

The Reward Bribe

The incentive of a reward for completing the work in a specified time limit may also work well with some students. This bribe could be something as simple as a special treat for lunch, or something as methodical as adding a dollar towards saving for a toy they may want to buy. The idea is to give them specific time blocks such as half an hour to finish a word puzzle, or one hour to write a book report, and when they manage to complete the task in the allotted time they become eligible for the reward.

Follow the Check List

When they know the exact structure of the day and what all they need to learn, such children may be able to focus their attention better on the tasks that they need to accomplish. It may be worth the time it takes to type out and print a daily assignment sheet and hand it over to the homeschool student who tends to be a little slow. Try it out in the classroom for a couple of days to see if it works.

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Making Edible Hands On Projects

Working on projects such as model of a cell, or making a map can be educational as well as entertaining. Now here’s a suggestion to make project work in your homeschool classroom even better by making it edible. The homeschool students create a model using edible goodies and once the finished product has been photographed for the record book, they get to eat it. Here are some ideas about edible projects that can be made.

Cake based country map

On a vanilla cake add the topography of a map using chocolate chips for mountains, rice crispies for plains, and green M&Ms for forests. You could also use peanut butter to give added texture or perhaps butter cream icing would be a better bet. Make a different map each day for individual states.

Cereal based organ system model

Empty out a packet of mixed cereal and use the different colors to build the organ system. You could use the respiratory system or digestive system or even the circulatory system. Different colored cereals can be embedded in layer of thick custard to form the organ systems. Set it in the fridge before you let them eat it.

Cookies decorated as atoms

Use a plain cookie and frost it with sweet cream. In the center add a colored mini marshmallows for the nucleus. Now add chocolate sauce as rings on which the M&M electrons can orbit. Simple to construct and yummy treat to eat when finished. You can play around with different colors for the M&Ms depending on whether the atom is charged positively or negatively.

The Earth’s layers in a cake

Using plain vanilla batter add yellow, red and orange colors to the different layers you bake in a round tin. You can decorate the outer part of the Earth model with blue and green fondant to outline the oceans and continents on the planet. When you cut into the cake the slices will show the different layers in the earth’s crust as well.

There is no limiting the imagination when it comes to combining projects with food. Come up with your own ideas with the help of your homeschool students.

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Simplifying the Homeschooling Lunch

With a number of kids to homeschool and all of them in different grades, it can be difficult to organize a common time for all of them to eat lunch. At the same time maintaining a good pace in the homeschool classroom for learning. It can be equally difficult to keep up with all the different, and sometimes fussy demands that children may have regarding their meals and what should (or should not) go in them. Here is a simple solution to this seemingly complex issue: No fixed lunch hour.

When the children do not all have to be fed together, there is less chaos generated. It’s like a huge burden being swept aside for the homeschooling mom. Imagine the young ones taking an early break from the school room and eating their snack, while you get on with the educational needs of the older siblings? Let the older children not only eat when they actually feel hungry, but also allow them to fix their own meal. Just keep the kitchen stocked with all the fixings for a favorite lunch and allow them to make it in their lunch break.

A number of moms may initially feel guilty about making their children fend for themselves, but they need to just look at this as yet another learning opportunity. Making their own meals teaches children independence and gives them a sense of achievement when they manage to get that perfect sandwich constructed. They will be happy to eat exactly what they want to eat as well. It also encourages the child to be responsible by making him clean up the mess that is created. It sends out a larger message that whatever you put asunder, you need to put right again.

Don’t forget the huge advantage that this gives you as well. As the homeschooling parent you already have to juggle so much on your plate, if the kids handle lunch, that’s one less thing for you to handle. You have to spend less time in the kitchen and can get caught up with other, more pressing chores. So consider handing over the kitchen, within reason, to your homeschoolers.

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Skills for Homeschoolers beyond Academic Excellence

Literacy is the cornerstone of homeschool education. Naturally you would like your homeschool students to know how to read and write and do basic arithmetic calculations, but there is more to life than basic literacy. As a homeschooling parent you wish to ensure that you are giving your child exposure to all the skills that he will need to learn in order to have a good life.

Social Skills to Blend in and Stand out

Socialization has always been a controversial topic for homeschoolers. As a homeschooling teacher you want to be able to instill enough confidence in your homeschooled child to be able to stand out in a crowd. To have the courage to follow his own convictions and make his own way in the world. At the same time, you want him to be able to accept the society he lives in and be accepted as a part of the community that he exists in. He should have the capability to be concerned about a neighbor or a friend, and care about issues that mean a lot to the local population.

Forward Thinking Goal Setter

You do not want your child to live a myopic existence like a frog in a well that thinks that the well is the whole wide world. Instead you want a child who is looking forward to globetrotting and discovering the true nature of the global village we live in. The homeschooling parent would prefer that the child is able to set a goal that he wishes to accomplish and then make a plan to achieve it. The homeschooler should be able to distinguish between pipe dreams and what he can work to make a reality. He should be able to manage his time and work on what he wishes to achieve.

In order for this to happen the child needs to have a strong sense of self, a good way to stay motivated for the long term, and a drive to achieve the very best. Determination, ambition and motivation are the key words that homeschooling parents wish to transcribe into the lives of their homeschooling kids.

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Why Some Homeschooling Parents Don’t Have a Homeschool Classroom

Most homeschooling families tend to have a room dedicated to the purpose of being a classroom. However there are some homeschooling parents who actively avoid having a separate classroom for their homeschooling students. Here are the reasons why they avoid having a formal classroom.

There is not enough room

The most common reason seems to be the lack of physical space in their homes. Such homeschooling moms are already juggling their whole families in the limited number of rooms available and so feel that it is just not possible to dedicate a room as a classroom. Especially when they don’t have enough rooms per family members to go around.

Learning is not limited to a room

Another philosophical homeschooling mom feels that if she creates a homeschooling classroom it may send the signal to her homeschooling kids that learning only happens in that room. She does not want them to feel restricted to learning in a specific room and associating studies with it. She wants them to grow up with the conviction that they can learn in every place.

The book corner exists for more than bookwork

Having access to a home library is good, because the children do not automatically associate the book corner with study books. All kinds of interesting story books also sit on the same shelf and can be just as educational without the formality of a homeschool classroom. The love for books in general is much more likely to grow in such a situation when the child enjoys running to the book corner to pick out a book that can tell him more about whatever topic he is interested in.

The whole world is a classroom

Another homeschooled child loves the freedom of being able to complete the written book work anywhere in the house. He can sit on the dining table with his siblings, or take his book work to the back yard to be alone with his thoughts or even carry it along while the family has a picnic lunch. There is a sense of freedom for him to be able to do his bookwork anywhere.

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Use a Single Calendar for More Efficiency

It is nearly impossible to run a homeschool classroom without a calendar and a planner. However there is a tendency to keep only classroom related information updated on the books. Other tasks outside the homeschool classroom get delegated to another calendar or just stay in the brain. This is actually not a good practice for being efficient.

An Exploratory Study of Personal Calendar Use was conducted at the Department of Computer Science of Virginia Tech. The researchers there found that the majority of people who participated in the study kept separate business and personal calendars. Just  a handful used their calendar for to-do items. Not keeping all the information in one place resulted in distraction, confusion, and worry about what the participants might be forgetting.

Instead of keeping your information in multiple locations  including your memory, it made for a much more efficient system to have all of it in one calendar. It did not matter if it was paper or digital, as long as everything was easily accessible in a single place the participants were far more efficient at their daily tasks. Of course you do have to fill it in properly so that you don’t miss out on anything.

A major benefit of integrating your to-do list with your homeschooling calender is that it gives you a complete picture of everything that you need to accomplish in a given time period and allows you to prioritize your tasks in context with your priorities. There is also a major sense of relief associated with this, as you know for a fact that there is nothing on the back burner that you may forget about.

Your focus is now solely on the tasks mentioned on your calender and you can easily do what you need to do first before heading on to lesser matters. This allows you to work with confidence, clarity, and precision. So put your life on a single calendar to create an order of priority to all the tasks that you may have to undertake every single day. You will find that having this single calender makes it much easier to get all your jobs done at the end of the day.



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Helping Your Homeschool Students Focus Better

Getting a child’s attention is easy, its holding their focus on the task involved that holds the real challenge. If your young homeschool students are unable to focus on anything for more than five minutes flat, you may like to help them to focus better using some of the tips given here.

Unplug All Distractions

There is nothing as disruptive as intrusive technology. Before asking your homeschool student to focus on a task make sure that the mobile phone is switched off, no television program is running and the siblings all are made aware that the current task needs utmost focus. Get everyone into the mode of silent concentration for that given duration so that every one can focus on what they are doing. It’s a good idea to synchronize the tasks that need concentration for everyone.

Break Down the Task into Smaller Goals

Keeping a long attention span does not come naturally to children. You will need to build up the focus duration by starting with simple five minute long tasks that your homeschool student must finish. Once he is able to focus for that long, gradually add a minute or two to the next set of tasks. Before you know it he will be able to focus for half an hour with no trouble at all.

Keep a Buffer Time Between Lessons

It is difficult to go from one attention demanding task to the next without a break. The human brain has a tendency to perform better when it is given frequent and small breaks. So between two lessons that require complete concentration and focus please keep a five minute buffer time. Let the homeschool students relax in these five minutes with no task to perform.

Cut Down on Sugar

The diet of the child can also affect his ability to concentrate for long periods of time. If you want your child to be more focused in the classroom, ensure that they eat light meals without too much sugar in them. This will make sure that they don’t feel heavy, bloated or energy charged in the classroom, leading to better attention spans.


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Keeping Your Homeschool Class Healthy

A single child falling sick in a homeschooling family can throw the whole schedule out of kilter. The trip to the doctor with the sick child and subsequent care for him will ensure that the efficiency of your homeschool classroom drops drastically. This means that keeping your set of homeschool students in good health should be a major priority for you. Here are some simple ways that you can tweak your daily routine to ensure that all of your students, and you, stay healthy.

The Healthy Diet

Yes, the food you eat plays a major role in maintaining good health. We do not give our children junk food, but are we ensuring that they eat healthy? Have you studied the fact that each child requires a different amount of calories at different age levels? Or that the daily requirements of vitamins and minerals also varies with age?  General guidelines to a healthy diet would include eating more fresh fruits and vegetables as opposed to processed foods. Also adding plenty of nuts and whole grains helps. As does cutting down on sugars and starches. Specific dietary requirements for children with allergies will have to be taken into consideration as you move to eating more wholesome meals.

The Regular Exercise Routine

No, there is no getting away from the exercise. You can simply not stay healthy if you do not give your body at least fifteen minutes of concentrated exercise every day. The good news is that as a homeschooling family you can choose an activity that helps you all exercise together. Plus you can pick more than one activity from a wide selection such as walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, yoga, tennis, basketball, and more. The idea is to ensure that everyone gets a mini workout every day. The important part to remember is that the exercise may differ each day, but the body needs to be exercised in a healthy manner each day. Even on the weekends.

If this seems too much to ask given your busy schedule, just ask yourself how much more trouble you will be in if a single one of you falls ill!

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Guiding Your Teenage Homeschooler

Whoever said that time solved all problems, never went from homeschooling a toddler to homeschooling a teenager! While some skills are mastered by the time the homeschool student hits his teens, there are a whole new set of issues that the parent must deal with as he grows older. How do you guide this young human being to live up to his full potential?

Share the Dream

The key to creating a life full of inspiration and passion is to help your teenager take charge of his own learning. The basis of this is to ask your child what his dream for life is. The things he wants to do, the job he feels he would like to work at, the kind of place he wants to live in, the hobbies he will develop. You need to sit down and work out each phase of his dream life with him. Then ask him to make a plan on how he wishes to accomplish all that he wants in life.

Create your own Life Plan

Now that your teenager has a clear idea of what he hopes to achieve in life, give him the freedom to create his own life plan. The study syllabus should be designed by him keeping the end goal in mind. He will now pick lessons that bring him closer to accomplishing his dreams. Let him find out all about what he needs to learn in order to be successful in his chosen field, then help him learn all of it. His academic achievements now have a definite goal in mind.

Building Skills and Confidence Level

No matter how independent your teenager may seem, he is still a child who is learning to take his first steps into creating a life of his choice. He will constantly need your support specially when he is unable to ask for it out of pride. You have to be able to mentor him in a way that he builds skills that will help him. Then when he succeeds with short term goals, it will give him the confidence he needs to meet his long term goals and dreams.



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Fostering Creative Skills in Homeschool Students

In the homeschool classroom you want to teach your students all that they would ever need to know to do well in life. In the zeal to teach them everything you know, sometimes you forget that they need time to work things out on their own. In order to foster creative skills and self learning in homeschool students you should help them develop their own interests.

Have a Creative Time Slot

Yes, you want them to gainfully occupied with learning at all times, but creativity does not work that way. Give them a creative time slot in which they can do, or not do, anything they want. Let them read books that inspire them, or just sit out in the garden till creativity strikes. Just tell them to come up with a project that allows them to be creative in some manner.

Provide the Materials They Could Use

When the creative idea strikes, ask them to write down all the materials that they think they will require to complete the project. This will get them in the habit of logical thinking as well as list building. A good set of skills to reinforce creativity. Once you have the list, suggest changes that you may have and then set off for the shop. Creativity should not stop for lack of materials.

Plan the Project in Phases

Depending on the complexity of the creative project undertaken by your homeschool student, have him divide it up into different phases. Each phase can take from a single day to a week based on what needs to be done. This is sort of a route map that they can measure their activity against. It will also give them a rough idea about just how long a certain project will take to be completed.

Be Supportive but not Intrusive

A new project undertaking can be an existing time for the homeschooling family. Be sure to let your child know that you are there to support him in the project, at the same time reign in your own enthusiasm. Remember it is not your project, so allow your child to learn from his own mistakes and experiences.

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