Creating a Learning Friendly Homeschool Classroom

Often a child is encouraged to try a different learning activity if he has access to the materials that he will need. One homeschooling mother shared that having her fiction books up in a proper bookcase was all it took for her children to start reading. They didn’t want to dig into a cardboard box in which she had placed the books earlier, but seeing the books easily accessible in the shelf made them start reading more. Here are some ways in which you can encourage your homeschool students to do more around the homeschool classroom.


List of Tools to Give Access to Homeschool Students

While books are a good starting point, there are a number of other tools that can help speed up learning for your homeschool student. Providing them with all kinds of different tools can help create a learning rich environment for them in the homeschool classroom. A list of such tools could include things such as a magnifying glass, binoculars, measuring tape, rulers, play dough, a camera, blank sheets of paper, and art supplies.

Create a Learning Counter 

Having a dedicated space where they can experiment is a great idea. It can be as simple as setting aside a small table for them. Or they can use a roll up mat on the floor if they need more space to spread out. The idea is to give them a place where they can sit and do what they want when experimenting with the different tools that you have made available to them. It will help them be more creative, learn new facts on their own, and keep busy when you are unable to give them direct supervision in the homeschool classroom.

Invite them to Undertake Specific Activities

A little challenge can go a long way when encouraging them to take up a new experiment or project. You can offer them a reading nook where everyone takes turns to read out a specific story that they liked. Or have them come up with a snack for the siblings at a kitchen center. It would be interesting to get them to draw up a map of the immediate neighborhood on a large chart paper. There’s so much that can be done.

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Deschooling: A Homeschool Learning Tool

Shifting from regular school to homeschool requires a fair amount of adjustment for both the new homeschool teacher, as well as the class full of homeschool students. A tool that can help with this transition is deschooling.

What is Deschooling?

It is a period of time taken out to help students understand that their lives may not be governed by school bells, class schedules and teachers anymore. Instead they are encouraged to learn in new and innovative ways. On their own and often at a pace that they wish to set. It is a time when the child learn to de-link from school as a regular institution and link up with the school ways that allow him to learn on his own with the guidance of the homeschool teacher.

How to Deschool your Homeschoolers?

The longer a child has been in a regular school, the more shifts in attitude and behavior will be required. The homeschool teacher should figure in a generous time for the deschooling of the new homeschool student. Patience is a must because often children don’t want to do things the way they had to in regular school, but may object when a new teaching method is introduced by saying that’s not how they did it in school. The children are confused and need to be guided to the new normal by the parent.

Allow them to Indulge their Curiosity and Imagination

These two qualities have little space to bloom in a regular classroom. A student is often asked to stick to the essentials. They are rarely allowed the freedom to be creative in their expression and imaginations are often kept on a short leash. They need to be shown that now they are allowed to indulge in their creativity. That speaking up with a vivid imagination is not a waste of time. The changes will be gradual as the conditioning of the child needs to be overcome.

Give them the time and space they need to make the adjustments for a more productive learning schedule to take shape in the future. The time spent deschooling can help them immensely.

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Test Driving Homeschooling in the Summer Break

A number of parents wonder about homeschooling. They want to start, but since their children are already in regular schools, they are not sure how to figure out the transition. They are often also worried about being able to handle the demands of homeschooling. Here’s a simple manner in which these families can test drive the concept of homeschooling without making any major changes.

Speak to the Students

If your children are old enough to go to school, you can discuss the concept of homeschooling with them. Get their reaction to the idea of studying at home. If they are enthusiastic about it, speak of all the ways it will affect them and the changes that they will face. Ask them to get on board with trying out homeschooling during the summer break from school. Should they agree, go ahead and set up a fixed time trial to see if the homeschooling concept works for your family.

Set up the School Room

Having a dedicated space to sit down and study will be important for your homeschool students. Since they are used to regular school, they will do better with a more structured environment and schedule. Tell them to pick seats, cupboard shelves and study areas for themselves in the homeschool classroom that you set up. This will help them ease into the homeschooling trial. It will also give them a sense of control when they begin homeschooling.

Keep Some Time for Summer Fun

The children may resent having to give up their summer break completely. So make sure that you include fun activities like you would have during a regular summer holiday as well. These could include a camping trip or a visit to the grandparents, especially if they stay out of town. Other activities could include summer sports, hobby classes, and volunteering at the zoo or a museum. These activities should be designed to have fun, not to teach the children anything.

At the end of the summer of homeschooling, get the feedback from the children before you make your final decision. The entire family will have a much clearer picture about what they prefer after the trial run.

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Skills Your Homeschool Student Needs to Master

Getting ready for life is the purpose of education, and if you are homeschooling your child, you need to get him or her ready to live in the real world. Here are some basic skills that your homeschool student needs to master to be successful in the journey of life.

Note Taking

One of the most crucial skills is to be able to take notes when some one else is speaking. Not only does this come in handy when the homeschool student is learning something in the classroom, but it is a skill that will continue to serve them well when they are attending lectures in college. It also comes in handy when they join the work force and needs to attend meetings where a number of points may be conveyed to work upon.

Time Management

Taking responsibility of their time is important for the homeschool student. While children who are younger may require constant parental guidance about how to best make use of their time, the older ones should be able to work out their own schedules and maintain them. Having to set realistic deadlines and meeting them is a very useful skill no matter what task your homeschool student may be performing. Time management allows them to keep track of their assignments and goals effectively.

Written Communication

Writing reports, essays, letters, and emails ensures that the written communication skills of a the homeschool student develop adequately. Being able to write down and communicate efficiently is always going to come in handy in life. Everything from a list of chores that you want someone to do, to filing in your taxes once you begin working will require the homeschool student to have good writing skills. It’s a good idea to give them enough practice in the homeschool classroom regarding this skill.

Self Advocacy 

The homeschool parent is not always going to be with the student. It behooves the child to be able to put their own point across to other people even in the absence of their parents and teachers. While familiar adults may be well versed in the needs of the child, the child should learn to explain their needs to others who may not be aware of them. In order to do this the child needs to be able to analyse what he needs in a particular situation, then communicate that need to the person present who may meet it.

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Low Supervision Assignments for Homeschool Students

There are days when you are feeling tired in mind and body, but you still have a homeschool classroom to manage. These are the days when a homeschool teacher should have a number of back up activities planned for. You can take a partial day off from teaching actively to giving the homeschool students some assignments that don’t need too much in terms of supervision from your side. Here are some ideas that could work for your homeschooling family.

The Educational Videos

Have a couple of DVDs ready for the homeschool students to watch on a topic that would be educational. You can even use the internet to rig up instant access to multiple learning channels on YouTube. To make sure that they actually see the videos and learn something, have them submit a written report on what they see.

Physical Activities

If your children are old enough, you can send them for a bike ride to the local park. Let them pack a picnic lunch and go spend some time outdoors. The older homeschool students will have to be in charge of the younger siblings. Or just let them all out in the backyard and play catch or hide and go seek. The idea is to keep them active and occupied.

The Crafty Project

If your homeschool students are the kind who enjoy making stuff, give them a craft project. Let them design and paint a frame for their photographs. Or have them make and decorate a basket in which they can store their toys. Let them make cards for upcoming festivals or birthdays. Just give them the art supplies and let them lose on their respective canvas or card pages.

The Music Song and Dance

This is a good time to make them choreograph a new set of steps on their favorite song. Or to get them to practice singing a new song by learning it’s lyrics. The activity is fun, and they won’t resist it. Especially if they get to show case their final production to the full family. You can even have family and friends over for the show and provide snacks.

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Homeschool Mother’s Mental Health Day

You have heard about sick days in the corporate world? It is when the employee needs to take an off to recover from an illness. A homeschool mother’s mental health day is a similar concept. It’s the day the homeschool mother takes off, leaving her loving kids in the hands of another trustworthy adult. How does a homeschool parent spend this mental health day? Here are some ideas.

Settle the Kids First

If you’re worrying about what the kids are up to, you are not going to get much of a break. To ensure that you don’t ruin your day off, try and keep the kids with a responsible adult who you trust. Then you can give them tasks that require little or no supervision such as design a book cover for the book they are reading. Or build a fort within the house. Or draw their favorite cartoon character on a poster with a motivational quote. It’s all about busy work.

Head Out of the Home

Most mothers find it difficult to unplug from the homeschool classroom even when another substitute homeschool teacher is involved. The best way to get a total break is to head out of the home and do something that you usually don’t have time for. Tie up with your friends to do lunch in a fine dining restaurant. Go see that movie you have been wanting to. Attend a workshop on learning something that interests you. Just get out of the home so that you are not thinking about what the kids are doing.

Just Step Back and Relax

If you are so tired that you literally have no energy, then settle the kids as above and settle yourself back into your bed and go to sleep. Yes, sleep deprivation can take a huge toll on your health. A few hours of sleep when you are not responsible for the homeschool students or the chores at home will have you waking up refreshed. You can continue your day of rest by remaining tucked into bed with a good book, not a text book or study resource, and lazing.

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Dealing With Illness in the Homeschool Classroom

Children have extremely weak immune systems when they are born. As they get exposed to more germs, their immunity begins to build up. However the first decade of their lives, they have a tendency to fall sick at the drop of a hat. In most cases being ill makes them miss school. However what is a homeschool student to do if he is sick?

Mild Illness

In most cases when homeschool students are just mildly ill, such as with a change of season cold, a tummy upset or a headache, they will still be expected to show up and study in the homeschool classroom. Some work may be excused, and new topics may not be taught. However the homeschool student will still be expected to sit through the day’s schedule and practice what is already known.

Severe Illness

Here the homeschool student may have to be laid up in bed due to the illness induced weakness. The best learning practices here will be to either use an audio book, or a series of videos that can be about a specific topic. The child will not feel up to writing and reading, however multi media learning, phone app based learning and videos can be used to supplement the lessons already taught.

Something Contagious

If the homeschool student has a contagious illness like chicken pox or measles, and the other siblings have not yet caught it, doctors would advice separating the sick child from the healthy ones. However as any mother can vouch, it is nearly impossible to maintain extreme quarantine with more than two children in the house. So it may just be a good idea to get everyone together on the family couch in the living room and do an art project or watch a movie.

That way the full set of siblings can get the illness in one go and be done with it. Of course the homeschool parent should have another adult to back them up in case they fall ill as well. Not much studying is likely to take place till the sickness has finished sweeping through the house.

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Help From a Homeschool Dad

In the majority of homeschool families the trend is for the mother to be the primary homeschool teacher, as the father is usually busy with the day job that supports the family. This does not mean that the father in the homeschooling family can not contribute to the learning of the homeschool students. Here are some ideas to apply if you want to help your children as a homeschool dad.

Stick With The Strengths

The father should not act like a replacement homeschool teacher for the mother. He should hone in on the subjects that he is good at and help the homeschool students with doubts in those. If he can figure out a schedule for holding regular weekly classes in these subjects, all the better.

Plan Outside Educational Activities

This does not mean just playing out in the backyard with the homeschool students. The homeschool dad has the opportunity to actually organize outings for the kids where they will have a chance to see or learn something new. It could be a field trip to a national park, a visit to the local museum, a musical recital or even a play performance. The idea is to expose the kids to something different each time. They go off with the father for these activities.

The Project Supervisor

Project based learning is a good experiential learning experience for homeschool students. The homeschooling father can be made in charge of these projects. He can supervise the process, guide the children on how to make progress and share the benefit of his experience with them without actually stepping in as a teacher in the homeschool classroom.

The Chore Guide

There are a number of chores that the homeschool students can be shown how to help with around the house, and as they grow older, outside the house as well. The homeschool father can become the guide for these chores. He can give demonstrations about how the chore needs to be done, then mentor the homeschool students as they learn to perform the chores by themselves. All the kids should learn at least five chores around the house.

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Writing Assignments in the Homeschool Student’s Curriculum

There’s a lot of writing that can be added to different subjects in the curriculum of a homeschool student. Here are some ideas to get you started on writing assignments.

Historical Reports

Have them study a specific historical event in their curriculum and then write down a report on it. They need to be able to describe the incident, the impact it had and what they feel about it in terms of their own opinion. This will allow them to learn the skills of reading and understanding what they read. Of collecting pertinent facts and putting them down in points. Also being able to think for themselves whether an event was important or not. Not to mention learning how to express their own opinion in a respectful and positive manner.

Science Project Reports

Getting your homeschool students to the scientific method is a good way to introduce them to making their own science project reports. Have them draw up hypothesis, possible ways to prove the hypothesis and records of how the experiments went. It will have them scrambling to note down their observations and speak of the different results that their experiments generate. Want to make the write some more? Add biographies of scientists who discovered the laws that they are basing their initial hypothesis on.

Math Word Problems and Notes

Have your homeschool students come up with word problems that they can write out and solve in math. The real life situations can be used to define specific concepts. Ask them to take notes while you explain mathematical concepts with real life examples. This will have them writing some more. Give them ready worksheets for math as well. They can come up with more word problems of a similar nature and work them out for extra practice.

Book Reports and Reviews

For every book that they read, ask them to write a review. Describe what it was about, discuss how they liked it or didn’t and give recommendations of what could make the book better. It’s a good exercise to get their thinking caps on. It will also help them to think out of the box and come up with new ideas.

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Making Homeschool Students Focus on Writing

There is the basic skill of writing which backs all learning in the homeschool classroom. However most homeschool students are not very keen on writing down their lessons. They are happy to rattle off their knowledge orally but ask them to take a paper and write it down, and more often than not you will hear them groan and complain. So what can you do to help them enjoy writing more?

Get Creative With Writing

If the only time your child is writing is when they have to do worksheets or practice math, they are not going to enjoy it. Instead, allow them to do some creative writing. Show them an interesting picture and ask them to write down what they see in it. Ask them to build a story around the picture if they can come up with characters and a plot in discussion with you. Let them enjoy the process of thinking and writing.

Writing Doesn’t Always Have to be Pen and Paper

By changing the material that they write with or write on, you will interest them to keep writing some more. Give them oil paper and crayons and ask them to write a list of things they want for their birthday. Give them broad markers and ask them to write greetings on card paper to family members who may have birthdays coming up. Give them ideas about what they want to write. Discuss the concept of writing short stories, poems and flash fiction.

The Practical Aspects of Writing

Show them the use of writing in day to day life. Ask them to write out a list of groceries at the kitchen table as you open the cupboards to check what all needs to be replaced. Make them write out a message from a caller to the parent when they answer the telephone. Have them write out their letters to grand parents describing their day or a field trip that they took. Show them the importance of writing in daily communication. When they see it as a useful tool, they will be more eager to learn and practice writing.

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