What do Homeschool Parents Need to Hear?
We're in the Back-To-School Season.
For some parents, it's "THANK GOODNESS"... for other parents, it's "My babies are going away..." and then there are new homeschooling parents who are "WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING?!"
After seeing a recent post in a group I belong to, I realized I have much to offer these new to home-learning parents.
Here is the message I sent to this frazzled mama below:
Hey Mama. You've got this.
(This ended up being way longer than I imagined!)
I used to be a teacher in the school system. (Left because I cannot in good consciousness be a cog in that machine, it does not mesh with my values to be there for the kids)
Anyhoo, if your kids are used to the school system, there is VERY little learning in the first 6 weeks of school. It's all about establishing routines and expectations after the summer break.
Here are some of my suggestions, take some, take none, take all - whatever works for you ...
1. Start setting the routine. Establish a consistent daily routine. I know when I learn best for example, do you know when your kids do? When do they have the most focus? Start there and gradually increase the time of learning.
2. Shorter times. Kinda goes with what I was saying before, but they are going from 100% free/play time in the summer... Gradually increase the learning time. Hard to go from one extreme to the other.
3. Theme-based learning. I'm not sure how old your kids are, but kids do love theme-based learning. What's something that interests your child? Plan activities, reading materials, and projects around these themes. It also helps make learning more appealing to them after the summer holidays.
4. Involve their interests. Kinda goes with what I was saying previously. Use things they like to do, hobbies or activities they do. (Baseball, soccer, hockey, gymnastics, dance etc) This will help motivate them to participate if there is a personal connection.
5. Hands-on activities. Let's face it. It's incredibly rare that kids love to do worksheets. (I've only known one in my whole 14 years of teaching lol) Incorporating hands-on activities, experiments, or creative projects to make learning interactive and enjoyable.
6. Outdoor activities. Take advantage of the outdoors by conducting lessons or activities in a park or garden. Nature can spark curiosity and enthusiasm.
7. Games!!! games or puzzles that align with your child's age and learning level. Games make learning entertaining and can foster critical thinking. Studies have shown that kids learn way more when having fun and being immersed than when just presented with materials to learn and regurgitate. (Blech, hated when I had to teach that way, can't imagine having to learn it)
8. Read Aloud. Again, I'm not sure how old your kiddos are... Reading a captivating story aloud to your child can ignite their interest in reading and expose them to new ideas. Helps ease them into learning at the beginning of the school year.
9. Use tech. My own kids love their screens. Dad is in IT and they want to be in front of the computer all the time just like Dad. if they are like this, use it to your advantage. Utilize educational apps, videos, or online resources to engage your child in a tech-savvy way.
10. Social Learning!!! Can't emphasize this enough! Organize playdates or group study sessions with other homeschoolers. Collaborative learning can make the transition smoother. One thing I've noticed in my area is that so homeschoolers are really there for one another and collaborate!
11. Gradual progression. Start off with a review of what your child "should" already know from previous years. Then gradually introduce more challenging subjects over time.
12. Positive Reinforcement. Reward your child for their efforts and achievements with praise, stickers, or a small treat to reinforce a positive learning experience. Want to make learning enjoyable!
13. Your own participation. Show enthusiasm and involvement in your child's learning journey. Your excitement can be contagious and encourage their curiosity. This is why my youngest's favourite food is asparagus... I introduced it with so much hype that he forgot he was trying a new vegetable and enjoyed it!
14. Field trips. OMG. We all remember how awesome they were in school. It's the biggest bonus to homeschooling! Plan educational field trips to museums, zoos, or historical sites to make learning more experiential.
15. Flexibility. Being adaptable and patient. Understanding that it may take time for your child to fully transition from the summer break to a focused learning mindset. This may be hard for us when we have so many expectations of what we want them to do.
Deep breaths. Reach out to your community. Remember, your kids will get there. The more we force it the harder the pushback. You've got this!
Remember, the key is to create an environment where learning feels like a natural and enjoyable part of your child's routine.
Big big hugs and if you ever want to reach out, I'm here.
What do you think? Are there some good "nuggets" of gold in here? Maybe more than a few? Whether you are new to teaching your own child or have been doing this for years - it's always good to have a refresher. Wishing you and your children all the best for this coming school year!
If you ever want to chat about this post or about how to implement any of these into your at-home learning environments, please feel free to reach out.