Your child is going back to school but unlike others school is at home and it’s only fair that you’re well prepared.
Homeschooling as an alternative to traditional school ought to offer the learner the best of both worlds- School and home. As a parent, you should realize that homeschooling is a full-time job where you pour out your time and resources and work to see it through.
Let’s say you’re new to this situation called homeschooling, it can get quite daunting and being flooded with all this information on the web helps neither.
But fear not, in this article was going to guide you on all things homeschooling. So, let’s get started.
For any school to work, it needs supplies writing, teaching, reading materials or any other which assists in the learning process. These include;
MAGNETIC DRY ERASE BOARD
Comes with a set of markers equipped with magnetic caps so you don’t lose any.
The boards can be cut with standard scissors so they can suit the available space.
Comes with clear sound and stereo buds useful when learning languages
Supports CD, CD-RW, MP3, CD-R formats
BOOKS AND NOTEPADS (both paper and magnetic)
- Magnetic; the magnet holds it in place hence no sliding
- Paper; 5 – 8 inches standard paper ideal for everyday use
Comes with perforated tops that help in clearing tears without messy ripping
Comes in a variety of colours with customizable front sheets- great for categorizing schedules.
Comes in a variety of colours with expanding file folder pockets which holds a lot of papers and helps to keep things tidy.
ALL IN ON PRINTER
Offers a variety of functions- scan and copy, built-in USB port and an all in one colour inject set
A curriculum is the basis of learning. You have heard of the word before but what does it mean?
A curriculum provides the outline of the learning process. In other words the objectives, lessons taught, assignments, reading materials and tests to be given during the course of learning.
With all these to consider you may ask yourself, “What’s the best choice for my child?”
The answer is quite simple. All curriculum falls under 3 broad groups;
Focuses on the subject rather than the student and revolves around a particular discipline such as mathematics.
It’s used in k-12 public schools.
As the name suggests, this curriculum focuses on the learners’ needs, interests and goals.
Unlike the subject centered, it recognizes that not all students are uniform and aims to give them a choice in choosing assignments and learning activities.
This encourages more participation.
This approach aims to teach students to look at a problem and come up with a solution, helping them learn transferable skills.
As a result, it encourages creativity and innovation by exposing students to real-life issues.
Unlike learner-centered, it does not consider individuals learning skills.
Basic considerations on choosing a curriculum consider whether a parent values a traditional education- similar to public schooling- or prefers something out of the ordinary. (Andrea)
When it comes to choosing a curriculum the primary aspect to consider is how it fit with you as the instructor and the student.
The determinant of what teaching method you use depends on how much actual time you intend to spend in direct teaching activities.
This involves a parent directly explaining the material to the child. This method is used by parents at some point or another. Parents may go over workbook pages and examples on the board and stay near the child as they complete their work.
This is typically used by parents who;
- Want to be involved in their child learning
- Have very young children
- Have children with difficulty staying on task
- Simply enjoy teaching (Andrea 3-4)
Older children are more capable of completing assignments with little to no direct instruction.
This method is helpful when teaching multiple children as one child can be working on their own as a parent works with another child. (Andrea 4)
Since you are all stacked up on materials and you have a curriculum picked, let us look at all the apps, websites and platforms that offer teaching experiences.
The following proves indispensable in helping parents since not all of them can teach.
This aim of this platform is to provide free world-class education to anyone anywhere. It offers free personalized learning experiences for learners and teaching tools to track student progress and provide practice exercises.
Some of its features include
Personalized teaching enabling students to learn at their own pace
Trusted content created by professionals which range from all subjects and all grades
Online courses for preparing for standardized tests such as SATs.
Content which can also be accessed on YouTube and through mobile applications
Videos which can be accessed in over 28 languages and come with over 2000 subtitles
Khan academy for kids, which offers learning materials on basic skills for children 2-6 years
As a parent you can add individual student profiles for your child- this helps in managing what they can access.
Caters for both Christian and secular learning orientations. A plus as it offers options.
Whether you’re new to or are pro you still need advice on how to go about homeschooling. Good news is this platform offers parenting tips relevant to the process
On its home page, there is a resource guide that directs parents to a range of topics targeting all grades and offers reading materials in various formats- videos, eBooks etc.- whichever appeals to you.
You’ve watched ted talks before and you may ask yourself how this relates to my child’s learning. The answer is it does by supplementing the curriculum by exposing learners to thought-provoking conversations on topics they have covered in class. This helps learner’s gain perspective on various issues hence encouraging their critical thinking skills.
Parents can customize lessons for their child by adding interactive topics- to encourage children to share ideas.
Looking forward to your child learning a new language? Then Duolingo is the answer.
Features on this platform include;
Video games that engage the learners and reward systems (lingots) learners use to purchase features on the app
Use in school feature to keep track of the learners’ progress
Public leaderboards where learners can participate in competitions and check their rankings. The benefits of this are it cultivates the sense of competition in your child causing them to want to do better.
A great source of reading materials for your child. Project Gutenberg offers a library of both contemporary and non-modern eBooks which you can read online or download and read offline- whichever is convenient for you.
Scholastic learn at home
This platform was created in 2020 to help students continue with learning despite schools being closed. It provides engaging and fun activities that can be included in the learning process to make it fresh and appealing for learners at home.
A plus on their side they offer parenting guides on what activities can help grow your child’s skills.
Homeschooling for special needs children
To meet diverse needs of students, educators are being challenged with modifying the curriculum to be inclusive of students with special needs. (Paul Wehman)
Special education caters for students who require specialized teaching. This it does by providing personalized teaching to cater for these students.
Research conducted of parents who homeschooled their children reported that the top diagnosis of disabilities included children with ADHD, Learning disabilities (LD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and speech-language impairment. (Duffrey)
Reasons parents choose to homeschool children with disabilities
- The parent whose children have autism found schools are unwilling or unable to provide therapies and treatments that are effective (Hurlbutt)
- Negative experience with public schools (Parson)
- To escape bullying (Arora)
- To avoid the stigma of a labelled disability (Ensign)
A platform dedicated to offering a curriculum for special need by offering; multimedia lessons, text to speech capabilities and onboard writing tools. They’ve gone a step further by offering programs tailored for various special needs children.
What do they offer?
- Organized activities for each grade and level (slow, intermediate and quick learners)
- Summarized and reviewed concepts that offer clarity
- Test assessment students can do at their pace
- Teaching concepts in form of songs, videos and graphics
- Lessons in numbered or bullet form
- Interactive games, puzzles and programs with built-in feedback
- Language art text that can be read online or downloaded to be accessed offline
You have now gotten the flow of homeschooling and you have a schedule but something is missing- a way to direct the excess energy- far from the class.
Whether it is indoors or outdoors, you need to move–to work off those muscles and refresh the mind.
The good news is that many platforms cater to the physical needs of the learner.
This may include games, exercises, clubs, etc.
Daily exercise boosts physical, mental and emotional health. Getting their blood pumping keeps one in shape while also refreshing the mind.
May not be considered a serious exercise but it helps ease muscle tension caused by long hours of sitting. The good news about it is it only takes about 5 minutes which can be done during breaks from learning.
So, the next time you feel those muscle cramps try spelling the word COCONUT
Try including both running on the sport or within the premises for 3 minutes. This proves most crucial when your learner is zoning out.
Give it a try once you notice a drop in your child’s energy.
Whether you get the moves or not, pop some music and encourage your student to dance. Not only is it exercise but also boosts the learner’s moods.
If the learner also lacks the groove try out easier dances such as the Macarena and the twist.
This as an exercise is relaxing and also includes stretching. Pop a video tutorial, stretch out on some mats and get ready to find your moksha with some downward-facing dog or mountain pose.
Just as it urges “join us in the good energy movement” that’s what it is all about.
If you have a child (5-12 yrs.) And you want to introduce exercise in the classroom then this is the app for you.
Kids are encouraged to channel their energy into physical exercise by getting them to move.
The goal of go noodle is to target all aspects of a child’s wellbeing – physical, academics and socio-emotional health.
As a parent, it promotes bonding with your child since what better than one person exercising- two people doing it together.
Are you looking to introduce games in your child’s learning, then wordscapes is the tool for you.
This is a useful tool to engage learners in spelling and vocabulary through puzzle games where the student has to find every possible word using the letters located in the circle. The good thing about this is it encourages critical thinking skills and also broadens the learner’s vocabulary.
Note; best used with a dictionary nearby.
You can never go wrong with musical chairs. All you need is chairs, participants and music.
Pop some music with preset intervals and get ready to have fun.
Let your child join a club that encourages their interests.
Science and math clubs
Lovers of math and sciences can join coding clubs, robotics and its clubs.
Search for these clubs in your locality and refer to other homeschooling groups.
In the last decade or two scouting has expanded beyond just boys’ and girls’ scouts. Now there exist various scouts’ groups. Such as; cub scouts, venture scouts, rainbow guides among others.
Search for scout groups in your area and let your child join whichever appeals to them.
Are linked to a specific charity to raise awareness and raise funds.
Includes; cancer awareness, rotary clubs etc.
Creative writing club
Members present pieces of creative writing they wrote (poetry and short stories) or enjoyed reading. They then receive feedback and advice from others.
The club organizes for creative works to be published in magazines or newspapers at the end of the year.
A nice way to encourage reading.
Every month the club assigns a book to the members to read and every week they meet to discuss themes of the book.
Churches have various programs such as bible study for children all ages – Sunday school, teen and youth.
Consult with your church pastor to see what is available.
Volunteering teaches your child the importance of giving back to society as it exposes them to those in a society lacking necessities. Furthermore, it helps them learn to be more grateful.
Let them practice their passions
Apart from the examples stated above, your child may have an interest in other activities such as cooking, woodwork, farming etc.
If it is cooking they are interested in, enrol them into age-friendly classes and complement this by having them take part in cooking at home.
Does your student possess a dramatic flair, or be musical inclined? If so, look up local orchestras, theatres and choirs and sign them up.
Art classes/ crafting
Engage your student in crafts and DIY projects. Purchase the necessary tools and materials from the craft stores. If you are not a DIY expert then search the bookstores for helpful kits to ease the process (and not make big messes).
Sanitation has never been more important than now. Let your child make disinfectant wipes. All you need is;
A jar, rubbing alcohol (70%), paper towel/cloths
Fill the jar with rubbing alcohol- leave enough room for the cloths
Submerge the paper towels fully in alcohol
Let them soak for at least 5 minutes before using
Painting and drawing
Requirements; paint, sketchbook, brushes, palette, graphite drawing pencils, canvas, rag/ paper towels
Everyone loves colours. Encourage your learners to take part by enrolling them in classes. To further help appreciate art, organize visits to galleries in your locality.
A fun project; let your child paint their bedroom while you supervise.
Camera, scrapbook, bag, prime lenses, memory card, filters
Consider enrolling your child in a beginner’s photography class. Purchase a scrapbook so they can create their collection.
How to teach social skills in homeschool
Many parents don’t homeschooling because they believe children will lack social skills. This is a misconception. Children who undergo homeschooling turn out fine and can blend well in society. They learn social skills in their day-to-day interactions with other individuals. We know this as socialization.
Socialization is the process whereby people gain rules of behaviour, beliefs and attitudes that equip them to function well as a member of a particular society. (Durkin)
It is a fact that homeschooled students are more exposed to a wider variety of people and situations than is expected in a traditional classroom. (Nelsen)
Social skills are essential in building personal and professional relationships. They include;
- Effective communication; this helps the student to share their thoughts and ideas.
- Conflict resolution; the ability to get to the root of the problem and find a workable solution.
- Active listening; the ability to focus on what a person is saying and respond effectively.
- Empathy; the ability to identify with another person and understand their feelings. This helps in building stronger relationships.
- Relationship management; the ability to build and maintain key relationships.
Social skill curriculum
While selecting a curriculum for your child consider choosing one that considers building social skills. Consider adding this to your schedule.
Consider creating hypothetical situations to engage the learner in coming up with appropriate practical responses.
Note; consider using social stories, they are more authentic.
Take your child with you to the market, library and any other public place. Let them observe you interacting with others and let them put it to practice by allowing them to interact with other people regardless of age.
Here are some statistics to further encourage you
- Homeschooling has grown an estimated 2%- 8% per annum 2019-2020. (Riley)
- A large demographic homeschools their children- atheists, Christians, conservatives, liberals, low-, middle-, high-income families. (Ray)
- Parents being certified teachers or not does not influence their child’s academic achievement.
- Homeschooled students are doing well (above average) in measure of social, emotional and psychological development. These include; peer interaction, leadership skills, family cohesion and participation in community service. (Romanowski)
- 69% peer-reviewed studies on success into adulthood show home educated adults to perform significantly better than those who attend institutional schools.
- Adults who were homeschooled vote and attend public meetings more than the general population.
I hope the article has provided you with information, both informative and relevant.
There’s something new learnt; it is time to get to work and put to practice. Homeschooling is no easy feat, but not impossible. There are more than enough resources that cater to your student’s needs as seen.
You have all you need. The remaining part is your input as a parent/educator to ensure homeschooling is a pleasant experience for both you and your child.
So, to all you homeschooling, all the best.