I’ve recently written on some of the benefits of homeschooling for our family and some of the challenges. I want to share a few principles/techniques that I used along the way which may be helpful to others who choose to educate their children at home.
I began homeschooling when we only had two boys and they were preschool and kindergarten ages. Teaching then was easy, fun, and much of their learning could be combined. As I added children to the mix, it became necessary to be flexible and change according to their respective ages and stages. This made teaching truly an adventure and kept it interesting.
For the most part, my homeschooling experience included traditional classroom subjects and curriculum. Although I adhered to my state’s requirements, there was always room for flexibility. The following techniques reflect how I managed a one-room schoolhouse with five children of varying grade levels.
My Top Seven Techniques
- Group. Although basic Reading, English, Math should be taught at each child’s grade level, other subjects such as Science and History can be explored together by children of different grade levels. I simply tailored each child’s assignments according to age.
Multitask. If your children have books to read or assignments to complete, train them to bring them along if you have to leave the house. When we lived thirteen miles from town, this ride time allowed my children to accomplish work during an otherwise unused time. That gave them more freedom to pursue their individual interests when they returned home.
Accountability. Having individual weekly checklists for each child requires a little forethought for Mom, but it’s well worth it when it comes to making the study time efficient. Each checklist spanned a week’s time and included checkboxes to show which assignments had been completed. For the subjects that needed a formal lesson, a checkbox was also provided. A child can then study at his own pace or even begin tomorrow’s work today, without waiting for Mom to give next assignments. This is extremely beneficial when you reach the stage when your children can learn more independently. Also, when a child has finished seat work and wants to be free to focus on independent study, Mom can quickly tell whether the basics have been covered. These checklists also gave me a record of what work had been accomplished should I be asked to show proof of our studies.
Delegate. “The teacher learns twice” is the secret here. When it comes to Reading, Math, English, or Spelling, have each child be responsible to serve as a teacher’s assistant for one subject to a younger sibling. This fosters their relationship, frees Mom up a bit from daily lessons, and is a nice review for the child doing the teaching.
Team teach. The first person to consider team teaching with is your spouse. I see homeschooling as a decision that affects the entire family. So Dad, as the principal of the school, would occasionally teach a certain subject to the children. At the high school level, my husband covered such classes as Financial Management, Business Skills, Science, History, or Algebra. With the advent of homeschool groups and cooperative schools popping up all over the nation, Mom can leverage these options while serving as the main facilitator of her children’s education.
Rewards and consequences. My goal as a mom was to train my children to be independent learners. My favorite plan to motivate that behavior was to offer rewards for the accomplishment of goals. Natural consequences can also produce good results, but with the former, you have a happier child.
Teaching moments. For the homeschool parent, teaching opportunities continually present themselves in everyday situations. Whether out on a walk, grocery shopping, doing a home repair or remodel project, listening to a news broadcast, or even experiencing frustrations with friends, all give you a chance to mentor your child as he learns about his world and experiences life.
As a mom who has made it beyond the years of schooling my children at home, I do recall the times of feeling weary in well doing. At those times, I had to force myself to take a break, get a sitter, soak in a hot bath, go for a walk, get together for coffee with a friend, or even escape to the mall by myself. The most important thing was to realize I needed the break and coordinate with my spouse or a sitter so I could make it happen.
Sometimes, just taking a field trip or having a total “fun” day with the kids was all I needed to be able to get back to the routine with a renewed passion. And that’s the beauty of homeschooling—flexing with ebbs and flows of life and doing so with the whole family by my side.
I want to recommend a blog for those of you who are in the middle of, or are considering homeschooling. Alicia Hutchinson is a veteran homeschooler and has years of content on her blog which can be very helpful. We all need to stick together because we deserve all the support we can get!
Question: As a homeschooler, what has helped you schooling experience be more effective and efficient? Share your answer in the comments below.