Home-schooling children can be an immersive, rewarding, and illuminating experience for many parents. Not only do you get the opportunity to witness how your child learns and tailor their educational experiences to best suit their needs, but you can also help them to develop into a well-rounded individual and maintain an element of control over the content they absorb.
If you yourself are not particularly academic, home-schooling can be difficult, despite your best intentions. To help nervous or unconfident moms and dads make home-schooling a meaningful educational experience for children, we’ve compiled a selection of tips that have proved beneficial in the past and may be useful for you, too!
Organize Your Content
The first and most important thing to start with is to ensure that you have a wide range of resources, information, and activities for each area of the curriculum, suitable for your child’s ability, learning style, and age. Online, there are endless websites designed to aid home learning, producing test-based questions, activities, educational videos, and unique activities specifically aimed at children.
Whilst this is, in itself, useful, it is much more beneficial to organize your content into curriculum folders that contain sub-sections, highlighting whether the resources are worksheets, videos, hands-on activities or educational games. For technophobic parents or those who do not class themselves as au fait with new technologies, Setapp is an essential service to invest in. Designed specifically for Apple products with the ability to be synced across multiple devices, Setapp contains a whole host of curated apps that can aid your organization. The terminal is, for example, an app that allows you to create a folder on mac for specific content, and can help you to arrange your content by curriculum topic or theme – whichever you find most useful for you.
Make Learning Fun
One advantage of home-schooling versus regular schooling is that you have much more freedom when it comes to designing activities and learning content that your child will enjoy and find meaningful. Traditional schooling often fails when it comes to holding children’s attention spans and making learning interesting, interactive and fun, leading to poor behavior, and retention of information. This is because, throughout the day, children accumulate excess bursts of energy that need burning off – sitting still at a desk for 6 hours a day goes against children’s physical needs.
One way to combat this is to combine physical activity with learning: jog on the spot whilst completing math calculations mentally; recite multiplication tables whilst shooting basketballs at a hoop outdoors; use chalk on the sidewalk to draw shapes accurately and estimate angles; play musical statues while learning to spell – each time the music stops, one word must be spelled out loud.
Scientists have discovered that combining regular breaks and physicality with learning helps to aid the retention of information and enables the building of mental links and connections in children. This means that building tectonic plates and re-enacting their different types of movements in water or jelly can help children to better understand the different layers of the Earth and how tectonic plates cause particular natural features.
Flexibility is Key
Home schooling comes with its own pitfalls and issues, including daily life. Occasionally, you’ll find that a home emergency – the boiler breaking, illness, the failure of technology, or weather – can affect the carefully-planned timetable you have created for the school day. Or, alternatively, you may find yourself surprised by the questions your child has about a particular topic or a strand of interest they home in on. Rather than panicking and rigidly sticking to your original plan, it’s much better to go with the flow. Failing tech preventing you from teaching what you planned for the day? Pick a backup activity instead. Has your child asked you an unexpected question you aren’t sure about? Sit together and research the answer – allow your child’s interests and curiosity to guide the route of learning.
Any school teacher will tell you that flexibility is their most vital teaching tool: the ability to react to the unexpected and alter your plans accordingly is essential, as it shows that you have the learning and well-being of your child at the forefront of your mind.
A good teacher also makes sure that they have backup activities for times when their original plan does not work. It’s always a good idea to have hands-on activities ready such as STEM project kits for times like these. This way, your child can continue engaging in educational activities while you deal with a home emergency.
One thing you may not have considered about homeschooling is furniture. Adding daycare furniture helps to ensure comfort for younger students. For example, they may not be able to reach the kitchen table very well like their older siblings can. Having the proper furniture will also provide a dedicated workspace just for them!
Many arguments against home schooling focus on the distinct lack of socialization available, preventing the building of social skills and an understanding of others. This is easily remedied if you are home-schooling more than one child; it is much more difficult if you are home-schooling just one child.
There are multiple ways, however, that you can build socialization for your child. Why not take them with you to the grocery store? They can then interact with the cashier whilst incorporating their math skills. For history lessons, you could visit local museums or historical sites, engaging with staff members and utilizing them for their specific knowledge and understanding. Gym classes can take place at the local pool or tennis courts. Visits to the local community theatre or library can be built into English Literature and Drama lessons. Alternatively, trips to the park can be incorporated into break times for both exercise and socialization purposes.
If you find this difficult to achieve due to remoteness or a lack of transport, you can fill your child’s evenings or weekends with after-school activities such as local swimming lessons, dance classes, or sports. There are also many forums for home-schooling parents online, allowing Skype or Zoom sessions to take place, or where you can arrange playdates with other home-schooled children.
Whatever reason you have for choosing to home-school your child – the sense of security it can bring you over their education, religious reasons, or protecting your child from the poor behavior of others, curating a suitable education plan for your child’s individual needs – it’s imperative that you make it work for you and your child(ren). Although a daunting prospect, particularly if you don’t consider academia ‘your thing’, there’s an ever-increasing volume of useful information and help out there to ensure that your child receives the best education possible, allowing you to home-school in peace.