Tips from a Home Educator (our admin, Jessica C)
I just want to write up a really quick piece here for those who are suddenly finding themselves responsible for educating their kids at home.
When I first started homeschooling there were not nearly as many great resources as there are now. That kid is 18, and completed her high school diploma two years ago, so I haven’t followed as closely as I could.
But the first thing I am going to say, and I can not emphasize enough, is that homeschooling, and school at home are not the same thing at all.
When we started, I felt like I had an obligation to create that same defined structure, the subject by subject approach we often see in schools (though even that is changing now.) I felt like I had an obligation to somehow create school from 9am to 3pm. And, inside two months, we finished a year of material. Oops. (I know, that sounds good, but it’s not, it’s really really not.)
You don’t need to create that intensity of time, or of subject matter. Kids learning at home learn differently. You structure their learning to their individual needs, and you don’t move on until they really understand the concept. You also don’t have to explain things to a bunch of kids at once when some are ready to move on sooner.
An example, my 10 year old asked me last week for help with fractions. It’s just not clicking for him at school. I know that he’s very much an experiential learner. So we’re going to put away the notebooks and worksheets, we’re going to grab measuring cups and spoons, and we’re going to let him bake. We will double recipes, we will triple recipes, we will halve recipes, and he will learn what those concepts feel like in use, then we’ll look back at the worksheets (because they will send them home from the school) and we will do them together, and we will have measuring cups, and pipe cleaners, and blocks and manipulatives handy while he physically works through those concepts.
My kindergartener is beginning to recognize letters, she’s able to read sight words. We will print out lots of letters and have her label things around the house. We’ll play games with making nonsense words, we will read stories 100 times, and we will use the Epic reading app SO MUCH.
But those lessons? Those things that are school, will not be hours at a time, or even terribly organized. In my experience, class time at a table was well under an hour a day. And sometimes, the table isn’t best either. Sometimes it’s in the yard kicking a ball, sometimes it’s lounging on the couch with your feet up.
To succeed at home, you have to let go of what your idea of school feels like and embrace a more integrated approach, otherwise you’ll both (or all) burn out.
There are people on youtube.com who teach concepts with so much more energy than I do, I absolutely embrace those people and I click play.
Your kids will be rattled by this process. You will be out of sorts, you’ll all be adapting and adjusting, and the very best thing you can do from the get go- is to choose not to make education a power and control platform. Kids will resist, and you can give them extra time to get there. Maybe this week you won’t get much accomplished. That’s also absolutely acceptable. You need less time to teach 1:1 than a school does in a day, so allow yourselves and your kids the time you need to find out how you learn and teach together.
Also, never underestimate the power of a good bribe. “Guys, if you’ll just read quietly for 15 minutes, I will make some cookies.” It happens here, a lot. Oh, and it turns out that even older kids really love being read aloud to. Even my adult kid will tune in if I pick up a chapter book and start reading to the younger kids. We all love a good story, and showing them that is often the doorway to literacy far more than asking them to memorize their sight words
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