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You’ve spent months, possibly years, researching. You’ve read every book you could find on the subject, talked to your family, friends, pediatrician, and possibly clergy. You’ve listened attentively to their advice, ideas, and fears...... and chose to homeschool your
child(ren) anyway. Well, now I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that the decision making was the easiest part of the process. The good news is that educating your child(ren) doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. In fact, the simpler you keep your program, the more fun you and your child(ren) will have. And the faster they will learn.
The first and most important step to organizing this long-term fun fest is simple. Never forget why you chose to homeschool in the first place. Sounds silly doesn’t it? It’s not. I have been homeschooling my children for two years and I still have to remind myself of all the reasons I chose this route. It keeps me from getting too strict and formal with my kids. My suggestion: write down the most important reasons you chose homeschooling. Hang your list in a place you’ll see it several times a day. I embroidered and framed mine. It hangs on my living room wall between pictures of my children.
Secondly, you must know exactly what it is you are trying to teach. If you want your child to be able to build a car a year from now, don’t teach canoe carving. Make a list of short term goals (three month) , half term goals (six months), three quarter term goals (nine months), and full term goals (twelve months). Use these goals as a guide. I repeat... a guide. Don’t stress if your child needs extra time on something. If you fall behind or even change your goals all together, I promise you the “homeschool police” are not going to plaster your face all over town.
Another important thing to remember is the child you are teaching. Ask what your student wants to learn. Children have wonderfully long attention spans provided that they actually care about what the teacher is teaching. Go to your local library and allow your child to choose lots of books about the subjects he/she is interested in. Don’t expect to actually read every page of all thirty books(my local library’s limit) . Your child will probably read some of each book, maybe looking for something special that catches his/her eye. That’s fine. Just make sure that your child reads a chapter or two out loud to you so you can keep track of how reading skills are progressing.
Another note about picking books, don’t force your child to stay at “grade level”. A strong reader will learn lots of new words by reading “above grade level”. A slow reader will gain confidence by reading “below grade level” and a confident child remains interested in learning.
“What about math skills ?” you ask. Games, games and more games. There are math games for every skill level. You could even make up your own. Better yet, let the kids think up math games to play. Then you play with them.
You could teach fractions by making a favorite recipe. Have the kids double it. Build a bookshelf (measuring, following directions, reading). Whatever sounds fun to you and your family.
Finally, don’t forget to review your child’s progress monthly to make sure you have a true picture of his/ her progress. It’s easy to look at our children’s progress through the color of our moods. Having a great day... the kids are years ahead of their peers. Bad day... they seem to be years behind. Regular evaluation helps you keep honest with yourself.
Above all relax, have fun, and enjoy your family.