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.
One way to ensure that all that is taught in the homeschool classroom is absorbed by the homeschool students is to connect it to the real world. The minute the child is able to see the real world application of the theory that you are teaching him, he will be a whole lot more interested in learning it. Food is a good place to start as he will be interested in seeing how lessons can affect food.
Fractions in Real Life
A pizza is a great way to explain how fractions work in real life. Each slice can be considered as a fraction of the whole. It is already a given that the pizza will be eaten at the end of the class as a treat. The one who can correctly get the most fractions right gets the most slices of pizza. This is a good incentive for them to get cracking and master the lesson.
Chemical and Physical Changes in Real Life
Have them understand the difference between a chemical reaction which changes the properties of a substance by helping them bake a cake. Show them how the baking powder lets the cake batter rise. Make the cake in a dish that is too small once and too large the other time to show how the container affects the baking. Of course they can divide up the cake batter into smaller cupcakes as well by calculating the total number of spoons of batter needed to bake a certain number of cupcakes.
Biological Changes in Real Life
The way a living organism grows marks a major difference from a non living organism. Take a few seeds of herbs or other fast growing edible plants and ask your homeschool students to soak them overnight. Also soak some non living things like a pencil, sharper, eraser, tack pins, etc. Show how the seeds sprout little shoots but there is no change in the non living items. The sprouting seeds can then be used in a salad with their daily snack. Some can also be planted in pots that may be placed on the window sill for them to cultivate into full fledged plants.
Some parents who send their children to regular school feel that the responsibility for their children’s education then lies with the school. They feel that homeschooling a child where you have to teach the child everything is a much bigger responsibility and don’t want any part of it. However when you stop to think about it, no matter what school or college your child attends, the end responsibility of educating your child lies with you, the parent.
Studies and Education are Different
Your student may learn to study different subjects in the homeschool classroom or in a regular school, however that is not the sum total of the education that is being provided to that child. Education has a far greater scope than mere book study. Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. It is a combination of story telling, discussion, teaching, training, and directed research. When you consider the wide scope of education you realise that a school outside can only cover a certain amount, the rest must be covered by the parent.
Supporting Your Student’s Learning
As a parent you are constantly evolving your role as a teacher to your child. Your student may go to regular school or be homeschooled, but you will consonantly be responsible for teaching them at each stage of life. In the early years it is more hands on learning and physical skills, then as they grow older your role changes to one of facilitator. It is your responsibility to support your child’s learning by proving your child with various resources. Your own attitude towards learning can inspire and motivate them to become better learners themselves. You are leading by example all the time, so make sure that you are a good role model.
Don’t Go Overboard
While you need to pay attention to your child and how he learns, you also need to maintain a balance between work and play. Don’t make them work so hard that they forget that they need to play. Let them understand that they will learn better when they are not stressed out. Yes it is your responsibility to ensure that they learn not to over work themselves as well.
Gaps in education occur no matter where your child has been schooled. Do you think regular school manages to get all the education ever required crammed in to the heads of their students? It is not possible for each homeschool student to be taught everything they would possibly need to know in the future by the parent. So accept that gaps in their education will occur. However what is important is providing tools in the homeschool classroom which allow your children to cover these gaps when they require.
Introduce them to different tools
Take any gap you come across and ask yourself where would you find out more about this topic? An easy way to get details today is to go online. However suppose the internet is unavailable, how would you find out more about the topic of interest? Challenge your homeschool students to make a list of possible resources or people that they could use to find out more about the topic.
Now follow up on each tool individually
Once the list is ready decide how you will tackle finding out more information. Will you go to the library and get books, will you meet a real life person who will be able to help you. Set it up so that each item on the list that they have made is actually visited. Ask them which of the whole lot was the most helpful in gaining knowledge about the topic. Make them understand that not all resources are equal and that for different topics different resources may be more useful.
Let them record what they have picked up
The true measure of how much a homeschool student had picked up about a topic can be found in how they discuss it afterwards. Have them either write a report on what they picked up or maybe make a video speaking about what all the topic is about. Let them apply the new found knowledge in a real world example if possible. Give them a project that allows them to showcase how they have covered the education gap which they uncovered. This allows you to see how they have progressed.
Most parents lament the fact that their children are more interested in watching videos online rather than reading books. It is the truth that new technology will overshadow the old, but the habit of reading books can still be cultivated. If you want your homeschool students to be as interested in reading books as they are in playing online games, read on.
They see and do
There is no better way to teach your child something than to do it yourself. Imitation is the best way for children to learn so if you want your children to develop a love for reading and books, you have to make sure that you love reading as well. A good way to begin introducing books to younger homeschool students is to have a read aloud session with them. Fix a certain time, usually a bedtime story works well, and read out to them a story of their interest. This associates reading with a pleasant memory and books are considered something fun.
Entertainment and learning
By allowing them to look at the book’s pages as you read out loud to the children, you get them to identify words much faster. Of course reading out loud does not have to be restricted to reading story books. Eventually you can move on to reading study books out loud as well. And this can be done even as the children go into higher grades. Some children who are auditory learners will actually learn better when you read out the lesson to them. This means that by reading out random books to them you are actually enhancing their ability to understand their world.
Family time and bonding
You can even make reading out loud a time for family. Each person gets to pick a book and the family sits together as one person reads it out loud. Younger children can be given colouring work to keep their hands busy even as their minds are engaged in the story. Needle work, craft projects, even prepping for dinner can become tasks carried out along with the reading. What’s more that half hour will count as quality family time as book references will continue to follow your conversations for days to come!
Playing with colours, making things with glue, adding sparkly bits and feathers. Any project you take on in Arts and Craft can make a serious mess in your homeschool classroom. Here are some tips to minimise the mess and make it easier for you to clean up afterwards.
Always Cover the Table
This is the golden rule. The spills are going to take place and you can not avoid them. Best thing to do is ensure that you have a nice thick plastic sheet which is adequate to cover the full length of the table your children will be working on.
Add Aprons or Covers
If you don’t want to have to change the clothes of all the kids, make sure that you cover them up with kitchen aprons or simply take some old shirts. Ensure that the homeschool students cover up the good clothes and that way the cover clothes can be washed and used again for the next arts and craft project.
Keep a Kitchen Tissue Roll Handy
There is going to be many a messy hand that you need to clean up so keep the kitchen roll handy. You can dry off wet paint, sticky glue and any other stuff. Even a dirty rag can be used for the same purpose. This makes sure that paint coated hands don’t end up painting other surfaces inadvertently.
Limit the Supplies
The more the supplies available the greater the final mess. Take out only limited quantities of the supplies and ration them out to each child individually. Let the common supplies lie in the centre of the table and be used by everyone. This will also reduce the amount of things on the table and subsequently the risk of spilling stuff.
Have a Disposal System in Place
There is going to be a set of stuff that is not as pretty as they want it to be, or made not quite right. Plus all the stuff that is extra from the cutting and fine tuning of the craft project. These things can be disposed off in a cardboard box designated for trash. This will allow the eventual clean up to be faster.
Summer holidays are a great time to kick back, relax and forget all about lessons. However when you get back to regular school routine, there can be a great deal of learning loss for students who have not kept up with some kind of studies during the summer break. Here are some ideas to prevent severe summer learning loss and keep your students on track when they rejoin regular classes at the end of the break.
Revise Old Lessons
A good way to keep learning and not introduce new topics during the summer is to revise the lessons with which you know the homeschool students have issues. Simple worksheets, rereading a chapter or even writing a report can be good ways to reinforce what has already been taught.
Catch Up to Your Schedule
Ever so often real life interferes with the homeschool schedule. Think of all those lessons you had planned but were unable to complete due to some reason. The summer break is a good time to play catch up with those topics. It allows you to keep on the schedule when break ends.
Learn More About a Topic
During the academic year there is so much more to cover that at times an in depth study into a topic of interest is just not possible. During the summer use the extra hours available to help your homeschool student learn more about topics that have interested him during the school classes.
Shift Teaching to Online Sites
Instead of being the teacher in the summer, ask the homeschool students to pick up online courses. This will ensure that they learn and continue to be productive while you get the much deserved break from continuously planning and teaching in the classroom.
Become a Regular at the Local Library
Fiction, comics, biographies, reference books, it doesn’t matter what they read. Just give them the library card and have them issue out a new book each week. It will allow them to develop an interest in all kinds of books. Knowledge in any form is never a waste. Give them the freedom to explore books.
When summer rolls by do you continue using the regular homeschool schedule or do you make changes to accommodate the fact that your children’s friends are now on summer break. That your homeschool students may want to spend time with their peers doing other activities besides homework. While many homeschool parents do not stop teaching altogether during the summer, a large number do make some changes to their homeschool classroom schedules.
Let Them Play Outdoors
Less time in organised classroom activities means more time for your homeschool students to play. In the summer getting outdoors and playing with friends can also be an invaluable life lesson.
Let Them Learn at Their Pace
As long as they take care of their regular household chores, you can excuse them from regular book learning everyday. Maybe just have them write a report weekly on a topic of their interest.
Let Them Explore New Things
Picnics, trips to the local parks, visit to a museum, a short road trip with family or friends. Give them new experiences. Allow them the time to explore their world and widen their horizons. These experiences are teachers as well.
Let Them Create a Summer Project
Summer is a great time for them to take up projects. Do they want to build a bird house, stitch themselves clothes, draw a map of the neighbourhood,plant a garden, create a rocket or any other creative activity. It doesn’t matter what they work on as long as it’s got a tangible end result.
Let Them Play Indoors
Some of the best memories of family fun can be created by playing board games indoors on a hot and sunny day. Pick out the family favourites and get new games if they have outgrown the old ones. Many a day can be spent pleasantly playing these games.
Summer is a great time for the homeschool parents to take a step back and assess what has been accomplished so far and what more needs to be done. Give yourself a break along with your homeschool students. You will all be much better off at the end of it all.
Many colleges have come up with online programs that allow High School students to jump start their college learning with a process called dual enrolment. These programs allow homeschool students to study college courses in the comfort of their home, reducing the cost of the early college credits that they earn. Plus these credits count towards the actual graduation credits and allow them to complete college faster.
This is really good news in light of the fact that according to USA Today, “the class of 2014 graduated with an average student loan debt of $33,000.”Forbes recently cited that “student loan debt has reached a new milestone, crossing the $1.2 trillion mark — $1 trillion of that in federal student loan debt.” Most parents really dread getting into college debt and passing it on to homeschool students may be very difficult. So speak with your children freely before you decide on a definite course of action.
Scout for Universities Offering Early College Programs
There are a number of Universities that offer low tuition fee based programs that High School students may complete online. Make sure that you ask about dual enrolment policies so that you are aware if the students need to take exams physically in the college campus, or can complete them online. Ensure that the credits earned in the program can be counted towards the eventual college degree. Some courses do not count and even if your child completes them successfully it will be to no avail in the bigger picture.
Don’t Discount Local Community Colleges
While it may be tempting to go for the big guns, don’t discount your local community college. There is a good likelihood of your homeschool student preferring to attend the actual classes there and interacting with teachers and students to get a better perspective on college learning. While they may not complete their four years at the community college, let them get the feel of how college works. Plus some community colleges allow High School students to get around 15 credits for free. That would make a huge difference financially speaking.
If you wish your homeschool students to attend regular college it is never too soon to speak to them about it. Weigh in the fact that they have no idea about attending classes with a whole bunch of people, and the fact that they may want to learn about things that you may not be able to teach them at college level. There is a lot of preparation that you need to undertake to ensure a smooth transition from homeschool to college. Here are some ideas that can make it easier.
Spend a Day at a Local College Campus
When they are in middle school explain how college classes work. Have a word with the local college teachers and ask permission for them to attend a class on a topic that interests them. Roam around the college campus and if possible get them to attend a simple orientation. Have them interact with real college students and get a feel of what their lives are like. This gives your homeschool students a good idea of what they can expect when they get to college.
Speak About the Fees and Payments
College is expensive and homeschool students should be given that information up front. There should be no sense of entitlement but a healthy respect for what the parents do for them. They should realise that while as parents you will support them to the best of your ability, they will also have to pull their weight and get paying jobs to support themselves. Student loans should be explored in addition to saving up what they earn in summer or part time jobs. Educate them about the expenses going to college will entail.
Prepare for the College Admission Process
The earlier you get an idea of what the process involves, the better. While it is true that colleges like Harvard and Stanford actively encourage homeschool students to apply, they also have basic requirements that the students must meet. Speak to your child about what all they need to have in place before seeking admission in a college of their choice. Then help them get all that material together so that you are not stumped at the last minute.