8 Tips to Help you on your Homeschool Journey
What a wild time to be a parent! In the world of social distancing and stay at home orders, school closures, and postponed life until further notice, has most of us just trying to do the best we can. Including our new role as a homeschooling parent.
And while you may not have chosen this path, rest assured that despite your lack of formal training in teaching, you can do it, you really can. You just might even enjoy some of it too!
And you will learn things about your kids that you never knew. Like when I realized my 5-year-old has been pledging allegiance to Captain American every morning for the past year. Yes, she seriously thought the American Flag represented Captain America (insert facepalm here). And while you are taking this time to get reacquainted with your children academically, I have compiled a list of 8 tips to help you get the most of your homeschooling experience.
Homeschooling Tips from a Homeschooling Mom
Create a Flexible Schedule
Go ahead and make a schedule, but keep it flexible and follow it loosely. In order to make sure everything gets done, try to set a rhythm to your day, and do what works best for you. If you are not a morning person, don’t try to force yourself to get up early to get their work turned in before noon. In the homeschooling world, flexibility is one of the greatest benefits!
Set up a Work Space
Having a designated workspace can be helpful to give your kids a little structure and reduce distractions. You don’t need a desk or whiteboard, just a small space will all supplies needed for the school day nearby in a quiet space. In our home, the dining room table transforms into our school room while we complete the assignment. We pull out all the worksheets, books, and crayons we need. When our lesson is over, we simply pack up our supplies and put them away until our next assignment.
Find your Child’s Currency
Back a few years ago, my teenager didn’t complete her late work. My husband threatened her by saying if it weren’t done, she wouldn’t go on a family trip to a relative’s infant’s baptism. Big mistake, this was the wrong currency! My teenager loathes these types of family events, and threatening her with it may have had the opposite effect. Instead, I had to do something I rarely do and reverse my husband’s punishment and instill my own, no cell phone! Bingo, that cell phone is her currency, and I have never seen her work so fast to get something done. Find what motivates your child and use it as an incentive to successfully complete their assignments. What is one child’s currency, say a cell phone for my teenage daughter, may not work for your 9-year-old son. Maybe it’s his time outside or his video games? Find what works for each child and don’t be afraid to offer it up as motivation.
Learn your Child’s Learning Style
Try to identify your child’s learning style. Are they highly visual? Do they retain more from taking notes or reading? Maybe they work better with music in the background. Or perhaps they can learn their spelling words by turning the letters into short songs. Use whatever works best for you! One advantage of homeschooling is you can absolutely tailor your teaching style to accommodate your child.
Look for Deficits
There is no better opportunity than right now to identify areas your child may not have mastered. Without a solid foundation, proficiency in any subject will be impossible to reach. When I first started working with my 5-year-old, I noticed that despite the fact that she could count and had been counting quite well since she was 3, she would skip over the number 13. We never noticed this before and neither did her teachers. Once we identified it we went back to basics and practiced writing out numbers, playing counting games and flashcards to master this error. Sure it was a small issue, but if not discovered and corrected it would have made learning addition and subtraction more difficult. You may uncover an area that your child has missed. If so, use this opportunity to take them back to the basics of that skill, especially if the class has moved beyond it.
Have Fun Homeschooling
Fun is a fundamental part of learning. See what I did there? Study after study has shown that children, especially school-aged children, learn best through play. Find ways to make assignments fun and enjoyable. This can be difficult if you are following the school’s curriculum but try to find ways to insert laughter and joy in the learning process. You will be amazed at how quickly your child picks up a new subject if they are enjoying it!
Use Your Resources!
Remember, for most people, homeschooling while schools are closed involves following the teacher’s curriculum. If you are having trouble or you fear your child is falling behind, reach out to their teacher and ask if they can offer any additional resources or even a one on one call with your child. You can also find a list of additional resources here.
If you do find yourself getting stressed out, be sure to make time to relax. Follow these tips for self-care, and remember, not all learning is done in the classroom. If you are looking for additional ways to enrich your child’s knowledge, check out these 10 positive life lessons every child learns.
While the task of teaching your child may feel daunting at first, remember you’ve got this! You where your child’s first teacher! You taught them how to walk, how to talk, you took them from diapers to underwear. And you can do this too! Take it day by day and observe what is working. Remember, teaching is a process and the goal is not perfection but understanding. Tweak your teaching style or schedule when something isn’t working until you discover what does. Before you know it, you will find your new groove and have a wonderful memory to share years from now about the crazy time in the world when you became your child’s school teacher.