Politics and Homeschool Students

How involved should your homeschool students be in political intrigues. In an election year it is difficult to keep the subject from the children, so perhaps it’s a good idea to teach them about exactly how the government works. The basic election process, and how they should choose which candidate deserves to be voted for. How do you help them make an informed decision when they finally do get to exercise their votes? Here are some tips to consider.

Give Them a Daily Dose of News

By letting them watch the same news on different channels you will allow them to see how different points of view may exist about the same topic. it will also allow them to be up to date with current affairs. Ask them to read newspapers, pursue blogs and get information from other high quality sources online. Have them learn between unsubstantiated rumors and actual facts. Teach them how facts may also be twisted to seem good or bad depending on the point of view of a political candidate.

Discuss the Process, Even if Its a Three Ring Circus

By speaking about what is happening you are educating your homeschool students. Have them read up on the candidates and issues and then have a debate in the homeschool classroom. Ask them to give their opinions on who should do well as an elected political representative and why. Make them think about what they would want their representatives in government to do. Get them to attend local political debates if possible, or at least hear a couple of candidates giving speeches on television.

Participate in the Actual Voting Yourself

Children always learn by example, so if you talk but don’t physically go and vote, they are going to think it’s not important enough. Be an actual participant in the elections yourself. It will allow your children to understand just how important the voice of every single person can be in an election. They will respect the democratic process more and yes they will be that much more willing to participate when they become eligible to actually vote for themselves.

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Why Homeschoolers Move Away From Virtual School

Virtual Schools can be a great option for first time homeschooling families. They help the homeschool parents to find out what methods suit them best. They allow the homeschool students to adjust to the fact that there are lessons to be done in a specific manner. They even allow the schooling to be cheaper as a major part of it can be sponsored by state funds. However eventually most homeschool teachers will move away from Virtual School as a mainstay of their education. Here are some reasons why this happens.

Flexibility Issues

While it is a whole lot more flexible than regular school, there are still a number of rules that govern studying at a Virtual School. Children in different grades may be taught unit studies by the homeschooling parent on the same unit at different levels. However the Virtual School will have a pre set curriculum and will not consider siblings who need to learn together. So your first grader may be learning about plants while your third grader may be learning about rocks in the same week causing the homeschool parent to work in two different units.

Longer Study Hours 

A homeschool parent can wind up a lesson with their homeschool student in a shorter time if the student has picked up the nuances of what has been taught. However when attending the Virtual School the time for the classes is fixed and even if the student has understood the concept the class will continue as planned. On the other hand the homeschool parent could use the time left over from the first lesson to start out on another subject and finish more school work in the same amount of time.

Books and Study Material

A Virtual School will have it’s own recommendations for text books, and reference material which the homeschool student needs to use. This is not always the case with homeschoolers who tend to mix and match study material from different sources when they learn. This can become an issue when the child goes to a higher grade and wants to read from books other than those given by the Virtual School.

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Starting Homeschooling with Virtual School

Most states run Virtual Schools for students who are unable to attend physical school or want to learn subjects which are not offered in the regular school. During the fall and spring semesters these virtual schools offer homeschool students the opportunity to earn some credits through state funded studies. If you are just beginning to homeschool and are not too sure about what method you would prefer and how you should fix your curriculum, starting with a virtual school is a great idea.

Cost Effective

Since a portion of the fees for the academics will be covered by the state, you will not have a huge economic drain on your resources. Virtual schools are known to basic resources such as paint, clay and even a whiteboard for the enrolled students. In a specific course even a microscope was sent home.

Full Support

When you start with a Virtual School there is full support in terms of a teacher, curriculum designed for the grade the student is in, and ready made lesson plans literally dropped into your lap. That has to be the easiest way to find your feet while beginning the homeschool adventure.

Clubs and Field Trips

When you start out homeschooling it takes a while to set up a support system and peer group with whom your homeschool students can socialize. With a Virtual School you don’t have to solve that problem alone. You can let your children join the clubs at the school and have them attend the field trips that they organize.

The Mentor 

The teacher in charge of your child can become an excellent mentor for you as you are starting out. She can be asked for advice on matters that confuse you. Be around to clear doubts of procedures you are not sure about. Also it’s a great way to learn new methods to teach your child by sharing your experience and getting her to offer suggestions on what else you can do.

All in all by starting with a Virtual School you can get a good jump start into homeschooling  your children the right way.

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Should You Grade Homeschool Assignments?

The idea of homeschooling is to teach the homeschool student at his own pace. Does that mean that you should never test the knowledge of the student? How about grading the assignments that they turn in based on what instructions have been given to them. Should you grade homeschool students or just let them run free and learn as they will?

Grade them, but with no judgement

Let your homeschool student receive feedback on what they have handed in using a grade. Just don’t make them feel bad for not getting a higher grade. The feedback should be given in a constructive manner and should make them motivated to return to the subject and work out the doubts and issues they have. The idea is to help them prepare better the next time by pointing out errors that they have made this time.

Clear and consistent marking

The criterion that you are using to grade them should be made clear to them before they hand in their assignments. Tell them that they need to write full sentences and not just one word answers. Let them know in advance that if they can draw a picture or diagram with the assignment, it will help earn them a higher grade. The rules of how you set their grades should be easily accessible to the homeschool students. Perhaps even posted on the notice board in the school room so that it is always available for reference.

Timed and untimed assignments

You do not have to hurry with your sessions in the school room when homeschooling and your student does not have to rush to hand in his homework within a specified time frame. While there is no real hurry for a child to finish their assignment in a homeschool setting, giving them an occasional assignment which comes with a deadline is a good idea. This will allow them to get a taste of how they should organize themselves in case of an actual real world activity. After all if they are going to work in the real world after they grow up they need to be able to handle getting and delivering deadlines.

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Homeschool Classroom Essentials

What do you need to set up a school room when you begin homeschooling your children? Honestly, no two school rooms are ever the same, but there will be a few common elements that you can use in yours to make life just a little bit more organized and user friendly. Here are some essentials to consider.

White Board

While the traditional board centered teaching hardly ever takes place in a homeschool classroom, it is still a good idea ti have a white board. Not only does it give you a place to explain things to the whole class at one go, it also works as a good focal point to print what you need to cover each day. You can use it as a teaching aid, a training tool, and even as a visual backdrop for other activities. It can even work as a projector surface if you have a projector going.

Desks with Storage

Yes, the homeschool students need desks to sit and study on. If you are going to set up a formal school room, please make sure that each homeschool student has a place of his own. This helps them claim their own little territories in the homeschool classroom. Allow them to store what they like in the attached storage and ensure that they never leave their desks messy at the end of the day. The desks will become a place to learn, play and behave responsibly.

Cupboards and Open Shelves

The better you can store everything the more organized your school room is going to be. While closed cupboards have their place in storing stuff you do not want little hands wandering through, it is equally important that you have open shelves available as well. It is much easier to get things that you regularly will need to use out of open shelves. It would be a good idea to have as much storage you can get put into the school room, because no matter how many times you feel you have catered for everything, there will always be that one last thing you have no clue where to put.

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Homeschool Supplies You Should Get

A homeschool classroom may not need to look like a regular school classroom, but the homeschool teacher will need many of the supplies that a regular teacher uses. The homeschool parent can end up wasting a lot of valuable school time if these resources are not stocked up at home. Here is a list of supplies that you should get if you are going to use the rest of your academic year gainfully teaching your homeschool students.

All Kinds of Paper

Whether it’s construction paper to work on art projects, or foolscap paper to make your homeschool students do revision work, it is a good idea to buy all kinds of paper in bulk and store it in your homeschool classroom. Make sure you remember and label all the stuff you have so that you know just how to reach it when required. It would be a good idea to divide them up per child so that each student knows what he can use.

Pens, Pencils, Crayons and More

Now that you have enough paper, you need stuff to mark it with. Again it’s economically beneficial to stock up on these items in bulk. You will never have to run out to the store when your little one keeps sharpening her pencil to the every end each day. Just make sure that the students don’t know where all the goodies are stored, so you don’t get caught out without them.

Tape, Glue, Clips and Pins

Doesn’t matter what you are doing, at some time you will need to stick things together. Depending on what material you are working with, each of the above supplies will be brought into use. Only open one packet at a time and make sure that the homeschool students finish using it completely before opening another one.

A Laminator

This may not be an essential resources, but once you get it you will realize that it is a very handy one. You will be able to preserve all the drawings and worksheets that you want using the laminator. It will work out cheaper for you in the long run when you can reuse laminated resources with the next child who hits the same grade.

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Cyber Concerns with Homeschool Students

Homeschool students in higher grades spend a considerable time online. It could be researching for a report, watching videos on a specific topic, or even attending online courses. These may be perfectly acceptable activities that your teenager is conducting online, but is that all he is doing on the internet? Do you know about the sites that he visits regularly?Who is he interacting with on these websites? In case of the internet being a mildly paranoid parent may actually work to your advantage.

Social Media Websites

Parents need to monitor the number of social media websites that the homeschool students are on. There accounts should be checked out every once in a while to ensure that they are not on sites which may not be age appropriate to them. It’s a good idea to install a software like web nanny that allows you to block some sites altogether.

Cyber Bullying

If you child is being bullied by people online, it can be just as traumatic as being bullied in person. Pay attention to your child’s behaviour. Is he converting from a cheerful child into a brooding and private one? Ask him if there is anything troubling him. Get him to read up about how to combat cyber bullying. Speak about how to end it and how to deal with it. Don’t shove it under the carpet because it’s not in the real world.

Safety Hazards

Passwords, personal details, and picture should never be shared with strangers online. These activities can lead to all kinds of safety hazards like sexual harassment, stalking, and worse. Explain the worst case scenario to your child so that he understands why these details should always remain private from people you have not met in person. Speak of the evils so that the child is not ignorant in his innocence and gets taken advantage of.

Addictions and Disruptions

If your homeschool student is spending a lot more time online doing “research” than he needs to, you may need to limit the time he has access to the internet. Addictive behaviour can cause a number of disruptions in his daily routine and the homeschool teacher needs to be on guard against this.

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Working with Homeschool Teenagers

Teenagers are usually floating in a world of their own most of the time. They don’t have the same priorities or worries that an adult may have. When it comes to getting homeschool teenagers to do their share in the classroom as well as outside it, here are some tips that may come in handy.

Be Specific in Your Instructions

Remember that generic instructions such as “clean your room” and “do your homework” will not work well with your teenage homeschool student. You have to give very specific instructions like “pick up all the books in the room and stack them on the book shelf” or “complete your book report on The Fault in Our Stars by this evening”. The more specific you are the better.

Have a Checklist to Follow

If there are a number of items you would like your teenager to complete, please write it down and give them a copy of the checklist. Now give them an added time frame in which they have to complete the items listed. This will enable them to stay on track better than they would and allow less distractions to take them away from the list.

Rules Should be Clear and Consistent

Giving teenagers threats never works. You have to have very specific rules and define them clearly. For instance if they come home later than their curfew, mark the number of minutes that they were late. These are the number of minutes they need to miss in their play time the subsequent day. Let them know this rule and follow it consistently so that they learn to respect it.

Consequences Should be Forewarned Of

If they have been asked to do something, and have not completed the task they must expect some consequence. While I would not recommend the word punishment, it has to be something that pinches them. Taking away television time, or computer privileges for a fixed time duration would be a perfect example of such consequences. Make sure that they know exactly what they will be missing if they fail to complete the task before hand so that they can’t argue about it later.

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Benefits of Peer Mentoring in Homeschool Siblings

A Peer Mentor is another student who can serve as a resource, a helping hand, a sounding board, and a referral service. This system works really well in the homeschool classroom when the elder students can be designated as mentors for the younger ones. The job of the mentors is to provide support, encouragement, and information to younger siblings. The benefits of this process are reaped by everyone in the homeschool classroom.

Benefits for Younger Students

They have a role model who is easily accessible to solve their little problems. The younger students can formally ask the older siblings for help with specific subjects. They learn how to isolate the problems and ask for help. The transference from this can help strengthen the family bond between the siblings as well. They get regular encouragement and support and this helps build up their self esteem.

Benefits for Older Students

By teaching the younger siblings the homeschool students get a chance to revise their own grasp of the concepts. They also learn how to explain what they already know in simple terms to the younger ones. Since they have to act as role models, their behaviour also improves as they know that the little ones are always watching and will copy what they are doing. It teaches them responsibility and compassion as well.

Benefits for the Homeschool Teacher

The biggest advantage when the elder children begin mentoring the younger ones is that it frees up considerable chunks of time for the homeschool teacher. Any homeschooling parent will be the first to tell you that time is as precious as gold, so the time thus obtained can be used for other activities. It allows the parent to keep an eye on things as a supervisor while the children continue learning. Their job is made much easier by this in the homeschool classroom.

Should you try mentoring in your homeschool classroom? It is a simple enough concept, but you may need to consider the relationship between your children before you push them into this situation. Only if the younger ones respect the older ones will the situation actually work out.

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Helping Homeschool Students Be Successful

What can a parent do besides teaching in the homeschool classroom that can help the homeschool students be more successful? There are so many things that you can do that it may make you feel like you are not doing enough. However when all is said and done, there are a few things that you should be doing to ensure that your child is able to handle his studies.

Clarify all Basic Concepts

The concepts that the homeschool student learns in the preliminary years is what everything else will be built on later. That makes it vital for your homeschool classroom to be a place where they can easily clarify all their doubts. There are many tools and tests available to the homeschool parent to use to confirm that the basics have been understood well by their children. Make use of them. Catch the problem areas and work on them now, before they end up costing your child in the long run.

Master Basic Facts with Drills

The sheer art of repeating something a couple of dozen times till the student knows it backwards can be very beneficial to the student. Multiplication tables, periodic table facts, no matter what it is you need them to memorize, the final test is that the child should be able to give you the answer to a question within five seconds. That means it is well entrenched in his mind and he will be able to recall the information when required. This mindless repetition of drills is often the least favourite part of the day for the student and that’s when your encouragement and motivation can make all the difference.

Encourage More Practice

Most homeschool students are happy doing the questions that they have been assigned to do. As a teacher you should encourage them to find and solve more questions for extra practice of the topic. The more time they spend developing their skills with practice, the more confident they will be of their own problem solving abilities later on. Plus the practice may bring out some misunderstood concepts as well which can then be addressed in a timely manner.


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