Saturday, October 15, 2022

How You May Be Getting Homeschooling All Wrong

*Contributed post

 How You May Be Getting Homeschooling All Wrong

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For decades, many parents have chosen not to opt for the traditional formal education system. The preference for homeschooling has increased as more children continue to benefit from this deliberate approach to education. And as of September 2022, there were 3.135 million homeschooled children in the US. How much do you know about homeschooling? Have you carefully thought through the fundamentals before commencing? Below is a discussion on how you may be getting it all wrong.

  1. Failing to use morning breaks

Many parents realize that their kids are most alert and active in the early hours before midday. Based on this, they try to squeeze in more challenging subjects in the mornings. Others may also want to take the afternoon off and, as a result, cram so many lessons in those hours. Unfortunately, this may not exactly be healthy. Those morning breaks allow your homeschooled children to take a breather from active lessons. If you are teaching, it will be a convenient period for you to re-strategize before proceeding with subsequent plans for the day. 

An intense approach in the morning can defeat the purpose of getting your kids' attention when they are most alert. Parents who have succeeded in homeschooling their kids say that approach often leads to burnout. You don't want to deal with that on those busy mornings. A child who feels burnout will not grasp anything you teach. A mid-morning break for snacks or a walkabout will relieve all parties' accumulated stress or tension. The guiding principle is to utilize every tool to maintain mental engagement when your homeschooled kids are most alert.

  1. Failing to dedicate a part of the house to lessons

If you have adequate rooms in the house, you can convert one into a classroom. If you don't, it will still be a good idea to dedicate a part of the house for homeschooling purposes. The idea is to bring some formality and familiarity to the homeschool environment. If your kids were enrolled in a traditional school, they would have specific classrooms they identify with lessons. Although your intention is not to mimic a traditional class, it helps to have a place in the home where your kids can identify with their studies.

Adding some visual elements would be a great idea besides dedicating a spot in your home for lessons. For instance, educational posters on brightly-colored walls can increase your kids’   interest. You can hang their artwork on the walls and make them feel comfortable in this dedicated space. Indeed, it is their home, but doing a little extra can help generate interest in homeschooling activities. This works on the psychological principle of learning by association, where a person usually associates unrelated objects or situations.

  1. Commencing without access to the right educational materials

Anybody who wants to homeschool their kids is expected to have everything ready and accessible. This ensures a smooth process and, more importantly, makes it easy for you as the parent or guardian. Whether or not you adopted a specific curriculum, access to the right educational materials and tools brings definition and character to the program. It also adds some seriousness. You must have stationery ready and in excess, where necessary. Additionally, it would be helpful to access relevant online educational materials for your kids.

It is advisable to have age-appropriate materials that enhance the teaching and learning process. Again, because your homeschooled kids will be doing a lot of practice work, you may need to get workbooks and worksheets. Finding the right type to use will depend on your child's age and grade. For example, a 13 – 14-year-old will use eighth grade worksheets and other materials relevant to their age. Furthermore, having the right educational materials helps you plan your lessons properly. Workbooks give an idea of topics to treat and how to deliver lessons. Statistics indicate that five out of seven parents starting the homeschooling process for the first time often add workbooks in the first three months. After getting the hang of the homeschooling system, they include other methods.

  1. Failing to separate routines from schedules

Children are habits like adults, and many do well in well-established routines. In that case, what should a homeschooling routine entail? It starts with the activities lined up for the day, lesson hours, timed breaks, and everything else that establishes a flow of things. Routines are action plans that help you deliver lessons, schedule extracurricular activities, and visualize daily goals. Starting the day without an established routine can mess up the order of things. Most parents often confuse routine with scheduling. However, the former involves a list of things you set out to do during the homeschooling hours. They are usually not planned to the minute but are rather time blocks that allow you to fit your routines, so keep this in mind. 

For example, a homeschooling morning routine might be eating breakfast, starting lessons, taking breaks, and practicing work with kids. You set out to do these activities every weekday morning without exactly apportioning hours or minutes. On the other hand, a schedule is a routine with allocated times. When you understand it from this perspective, it becomes easier to move with the flow of things on homeschooling days. You and the kids will be happy to settle into a flexible routine that creates a healthy learning environment. While this is true for many children, other kids may have other needs, and you must factor them into your schedule and routine.

  1. Trying to imitate the traditional school system

What was your primary reason for homeschooling your children? Many parents and guardians spend more one-on-one time with their kids. For others, it is a dissatisfaction with the mainstream education system. Another category feels better positioned to deliver bespoke lessons based on the child's natural strengths and weaknesses. Whatever your reason from the beginning, why would you want to replicate the regular school system? You may need to return to the drawing board, so keep this in mind. Remember that your main mission is to introduce your kids to a new way of receiving education. 

Therefore, creating a traditional mini-school in your house may defeat the purpose of homeschooling. Before you know it, lessons may take on an overly-regimental approach. And the flexibility you sought to establish can go out the door. The danger of mimicking a regular school lies in unknowingly creating an atmosphere that fails to recognize your children's individual strengths and weaknesses. Your kids will do well moving at their natural pace, but of course, with your guidance. Customization and individuality must be the mainstay of your homeschooling system.

  1. Setting unrealistic expectations for your kids

Every child has interests, academic strengths, and weaknesses. If you have more than one homeschooled child, you will notice differences in their abilities. Based on this, setting unrealistic expectations for these kids is not advisable. A better option might be setting achievable targets based on their abilities. You will get your homeschooling all wrong if you peg all of them at the same level.

Some children are naturally high achievers, while others need more time to catch up. You will become aware of your unconscious biases when you understand them from this perspective. It would be good to realize this early on to avoid causing friction between your homeschooled kids. It is recommended to set smart achievable goals every three months to help track progress and review where necessary, so feel free to consider this.

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