There are many education related websites available online that can make a good complement to what is being covered in the homeschool class. Here are a few online resources that the homeschool teacher may like to use.
This curated collection of ebooks has all kinds of material suitable for homeschool students. There are a large number of audio books that may be downloaded as well. There is also a section for teenagers which has age appropriate reading material. Interestingly there is Tumble Math, a set of math related stories which combine animation, narration, and sound to create a compelling and enticing story book for students of all ages. There is a thirty day free trial available for the website and if you find it useful, you can purchase a yearly subscription which can be used to access the site all year round.
The SAG-AFTRA Foundation has actors read out popular children’s books. The videos can be accessed for free from the website. YouTube or School Tube may be used to watch the videos. If you want your early reader to get interested in reading story books, these videos would make a good start. Children react well to seeing celebrities they know from movies and television, reading out the books to them. The connection with the actor they have seen in a movie reading out a book that they love, can prove a good motivational force to get them interesting in reading more books.
This is a free, core academic website, that delivers rich multimedia content thanks to it’s partnership with a number of voluntary agencies. Material is available for general education subjects for teachers of middle school, high school and even some college level lessons. Your registration is free and you can access videos, animations, and simulations that may be used to augment the lesson plan for a homeschool teacher. You can create playlists for your homeschool students to go through and let them watch on their own pace. Quizzes can be added on by the teachers so that the students can be tested on what they have picked up.
It’s nearly time for schools to reopen and you may be getting ready for your homeschool students to return to the books. While you may be a homeschooling family that takes no break, you may still have to add things to your schedule for preparing your homeschool classroom for the next academic session. Here are some back to school tips to help organize your homeschool classroom with more ease.
Map Out The Classroom
Depending on your availability of space, you may have anything from a full room, to a couple of cupboards and the dining table functioning as your classroom. It’s a good idea to map out the zones so that you know where you need to put what. Have a fixed place for where the children keep their textbooks, another shelf for the reference books that you need to use, a notice board to display the daily/weekly/monthly to-do list, a box for all the new stationery. The more you designate areas and spaces, the better organized you will be with all your material.
Preparing for the New Academic Session
Make the lesson plans, organize the worksheets, evaluation of students, and other prep activities before the academic session begins formally. You may like to get the input of your homeschool students as you plan out the academic activities that you wish to undertake in the upcoming year. You may want to take printouts of your calendar schedule that will go up on the noticeboard each week/month. All the busy work and repetitive tasks that you can get done beforehand, will leave you with that much more time later in the year.
Plan for the Unexpected Emergencies
What if you can’t teach your homeschool students for a week if you catch the flu? Do you have a substitute homeschool teacher who can take over for you? Speak with your friends and family and prepare them for such an eventuality by having them come in for guest teacher lessons. This will make the transition easier when something unexpected happens and they need to take over the teacher’s reigns for a bit. It pays to be well prepared for these contingencies.
Physical education is more fun when a group of children can play a sport together. This may not always be possible in the homeschool set up every day. Yet it is important for growing children to get a daily quota of physical activity in. Getting homeschool students moving for mandatory PE sometimes requires the homeschool parent to get creative.
Make the Activity a Science Project
Over a period of a month have the homeschool students do the same activity, for instance running or walking a fixed loop for a predetermined distance. Now each day they need to keep track of the time they took to cover this distance. Let them work out the speed they reached each day in a notebook. A little bit of Physics numerical practice gets built in to the day.
At the end of the month let them calculate the average speed, mark the day they went the fastest and the slowest. Allow them to repeat this with another activity just as push-ups the next month. Or they can do a circuit training based on what is available around the home. Or check how many baskets they can do in ten minutes. Give them more freedom to pick the variables and make changes each day to alter the results of the data they are recording.
Combine Biology Lessons with Physical Activities
Teaching the homeschool students about their bodies can be an interesting add on to Physical Education. After a run, once they catch their breath, teach them about the lungs. Make them calculate how long it took for them to get back to normal breathing to calculate their lung capacity. Discuss the bronchi and how to develop more lung capacity.
Another idea would be to speak about the heart after some aerobic exercise. Have them measure their base heart rate, then the accelerated heart rate after the activity. Discuss the normal parameters. Also speak of the veins and arteries functioning. You may even want to speak of the four compartments in the heart. Let them know how eating habits and exercise can affect the health of their heart.
The idea is to get them curious about their bodies and learn how to keep it healthy with the right diet and exercise.
The environment is under attack. It’s human consumption and the use and throw attitude that is the most brutal contributor. How can a single homeschool parent make a difference? By raising their homeschool students with an awareness of what are environmentally friendly practices. The idea of saving the planet is a heady one for children, specially when they can be given actual tangible steps to reduce their carbon footprint. Here are some ideas that may help your homeschool students become green soldiers for Earth.
Have them learn how resources like food and water are limited. How electricity is actually generated and used. Explain to them what all human activities cause a carbon footprint. A good documentary or series of programs on National Geographic or Discovery may be seen as part of the class schedule. Then come up with ways that they can contribute to reducing waste of resources around the house.
- Switch off lights in a room that is not in use.
- Don’t take long showers.
- Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth.
- Only take as much as you can finish eating on your plate.
Making The Most of Your Things
Reusing old toys, clothes linen, notebooks, and more can make a huge difference not just to the environment but also for your monthly family budget. The most obvious way to recycle things is to pass them on from an older sibling to a younger one. If not possible, think of other ways to reuse these items.
- Notebooks from a previous academic year with left over pages can be used for rough work.
- Old bed sheets can be cut into small cloths that can be used for clean up during art and craft work.
- Empty glass jam jars can become the canvas for new pencil stands.
- Plastic bottles can be re-purposed by cutting and painting to become plant pots.
There are so many different ways to do more to save the environment. Just ensure that it’s not a one time fad, but a constant lifestyle choice. What your homeschool students learn by example is what they will continue to do all their lives.
One of the initial puzzles that a first time homeschool teacher will face is that while their homeschool student appears to be smart and can answer questions when asked, they point blank refuse to write. This is especially true of young boys in elementary grades, who are active and energetic. There seems to be nothing wrong with them, but they just don’t want to hold a pencil in their hands and write down what is being shown. Here are some possible reasons for this behavior that the homeschool parent may want to be aware of.
They Are Too Young
Doing the letters is just not something they find interesting. It’s fun for them to interact with their spoken words, but the importance of learning how to write is pretty much lost on them. This is generally true of children in the 3 to 5 age group. As each child develops on their own schedule, you may simply try to allow them some time before beginning written exercises. Just leave the material lying around for them to experiment with.
Fine Motor Skill Development
The muscular skill of holding a small pencil in their tiny hands and making it draw lines on a piece of paper requires fine motor skills. Girls are far more likely to develop these skills faster than boys due to the way that their brains develop differently. A simple and effective way to get your homeschool students to develop fine motor skills is to get them to fill in coloring books. The more they use their fingers the better control they will generate.
Switching the Approach to Writing
Most homeschool teachers will give writing exercises that they did in school themselves to elementary grade students. However these may be dull and boring. Instead, why don’t you get the homeschool student to maintain a record of something that he finds interesting? Start with the numbers and ask him to check and record the daily temperature. Or have him bounce a ball and see how many times he got it to go before dropping it. Then ask him to write the number down.
It can be easy to blend disciplines in the homeschool classroom. Given here are some suggestions for possible cross curricular lesson plans. You can use them they way they are given, or add activities as you feel would suit your homeschool students better.
Plan a Holiday
Here’s a fun lesson plan that can bring together Geography, Math, Writing and Reading. Have the homeschool students plan a short holiday. It could be a visit to a landmark monument close by. Now have them figure out where exactly they need to go using the map. Have them calculate the distance that they need to travel, and how long it will take. Figure out if they need to factor in a break overnight. Ask them to research where they can spend the night and just how much it will cost them. Now have them put the whole thing together as a proposal for a holiday to present to the family. The children can work on this with individual destinations or as a team.
The Culture Party
Pick any culture, it could be Italian, Irish, Mexican, or anything that interests your homeschool family. Now put together a set of foods that they eat, and create the healthier snacks for the Class. Pick out traditional clothes that they wear, and fashion them out in art class for the homeschool students. Create a written report on the location of the country, national language spoken, currency in use and any other details that may be interesting about the culture. Add in some history about the country and you have managed to cover Geography, History, PE, Art and writing. In addition you can put it all together and have a culture party at the end of the project inviting close friends to celebrate with the homeschool classroom.
Follow a Manufacturing Process
Take a simple product in the house such as a bottle of sealed water. Now use the information on the label to trace what all went into the process of manufacturing it. Where was it bottled? What precautions would have to be taken to create the product. You will be able to use science, geography and writing in this lesson.
There is a lot more emphasis on wholesome education now, about teaching students lessons that they can actually use in real life. The concept of cross curricular teaching embraces this philosophy. It embodies a sensitivity towards and integration of knowledge and skills spread over different subjects. It is also referred to as interdisciplinary teaching. In public schools this needs collaboration between many different subject teachers, and often may not be easy to implement. However in the homeschooling family, the homeschool teacher has an advantage.
Putting Together a Cross Curricular Lesson Plan
Since the homeschool teacher teaches their homeschool students all the subjects, it is easier for them to plan a cross curricular lesson. The idea is to take a topic that can run across different subjects. For instance take a topic like the second world war. It is an important part of history, but it also influenced the economy of the world. In addition there were cultural repercussions where women stepped out of the homes and into factories to replace men who were fighting half a world away.
Food habits changed due to rations, and people had to make do with margarine instead of butter. There were far reaching consequences on the entertainment industry. Books were published dedicated to the soldier fighting at the front. We still have war movies being made on that period of time hoping to give a deeper insight into the lives of normal people during that difficult time. A cross curricular plan could cover the subjects of history, economics, literature, and drama.
It Can Be Simple
If you feel intimidated by the sound of orchestrating a cross curricular class integrating so many disciplines, just stick with two or three in the beginning. Take for instance the science topic of the respiratory system, you can teach the homeschool student how the lungs work, then have them run for PE. Now explain why the lungs are working harder. Then add writing to the mix by asking them to come up with how their lungs work when at rest and when running. It’s taken you so little effort to put this whole topic together.
There are a few blessed parents in this world whose children eat nutritious food without making a fuss, for the rest of us it is usually an ongoing battle to help them eat healthy while navigating the mines of junk food. If you are a homeschool parent whose child doesn’t seem to eat right, here are some tips to try out on your homeschool student.
#1 Check for any actual physical ailment. While it is rare, there may be something physically wrong with your homeschool student which prevents him or her from eating. This could be an allergy or even some foods that cause sensitivity in the stomach. You may like to get in touch with your pediatrician if you suspect something is wrong.
#2 Study the food intake of the child over a full week. On a single day the homeschool student may have indulged in high sugar and high fat snacks, but as long as he got in fresh fruits and cooked vegetables on other days of the week, it may all balance out. The idea is not to ban treats, but to ensure balanced eating.
#3 Pay attention to meal time schedules and portions. Having a fixed meal time is a good idea as it makes the child feel hungry at that time each day. This allows him to actually eat when he is given his snack or meal. Also mind the size of the portion that you are serving the homeschool student. The child has a much smaller stomach than that of an adult.
#4 Give them a choice. In an ice cube tray add a number of different healthy foods. For instance one cube may have bits of apple, another some cheese, yet another can have a wedge of an orange, one with some sprouts. Having the wide variety of foods will help make healthy eating more interesting to the child. It will also give you an insight to his preferred foods.
#5 Eat what you serve them. The best way to get children to eat something is to ensure that you eat it with them. This way they don’t feel like they are doing something special or different by eating fruits and vegetables. Just keep the portions manageable.
Ever so often we see stories in the media about teenage drug addiction, involvement in toxic relationships or even something relatively new such as gaming and technology addiction. All of this affects the general well being of the teenager and as a homeschool parent, there are steps that you can take to ensure that your homeschool student does not end up with these problems. Most issues show symptoms much beforehand, but things get worse because the parents ignore the issues hoping that things will correct themselves on their own. This almost never happens and a formal intervention may not always work on a teenager in self destruct mode. However, there are some basics that a parent of a homeschool student can follow to try and ensure that they don’t have a problem.
Communicate Openly and with Respect
Teenagers are almost adults. They deserve to have the truths of the world spoken to them without any sense of patronizing. If you wish to retain open communication lines with your homeschool students, you need to talk with them often. In the way that you would talk with another adult. Add your own experiences as a teenager to your conversation topics. Speak of the mistakes you have made, even as you warn them away from repeating them. You don’t have to be perfect, just honest. It’s the fake patronizing that teenagers tend to react to negatively. Keep things real as you speak with them.
Practice Unconditional Love
As the homeschool teacher you would like to direct the behavior of your homeschool student in a positive, society approved direction. This may not be the direction where the teenage homeschool student wants to head. They may want to explore new avenues that you consider unsafe. They want to conquer the world on their own terms. Unless you can successfully maintain a dictatorship in the home for the next four to five years, it may be time to show your child your support. Let them have no doubt that while you don’t understand their desires to do new things, you are still in their corner and will give them your unconditional love.
The Change is Obvious
Ask the parent of any teenager and you will be told that moodiness is a part of their routine behavior. Unfortunately many homeschool parents find that as their children become teenagers and begin to navigate through the thick cloud of hormones hanging in the air, they tend to lose the ease of communication. The bond that was so strong between homeschool parent and homeschool student suddenly seems to snap out of existence. The child who would regularly share every thought and idea, now is so closed off that even getting the choice for dinner between pasta and pizza can seem like pulling teeth.
Reading Their State of Mind
The one thing that can be missed in this situation is the state of the child’s mind. The homeschool student may seem to have a full life with classes, and extra activities like sports, but are they actually happy? Do they have friends with whom they feel comfortable sharing their authentic self? Or are they just stresses out all the time, simply trying to fit in with a crowd that doesn’t really accept them? The saying that you can be lonely in a crowd, is actually often applicable to shy teenagers. It can be a very difficult time for teenagers due to the physical and emotional changes that they are going through.
Giving Them a Safe Spot
Like at all times of change, your homeschool teenagers also need a safe spot. A place where they can let their hair down and be themselves. This could be with a group of childhood friends that have grown up together, or with a group of cousins who get together regularly. The idea is to have a support system for your homeschool student which is a safety net for them. Though the homeschool parents may want to be there for their homeschool students, this is a time when the children need to spread their wings. It’s actually a good thing in the long run, as they will have people in their lives who are willing to support them through the challenges that are sure to come in the future.