In homeschooling, we're like explorers with almost no limits on what we can learn about! Absolutely, academic success matters, but we shouldn't forget that looking after our kids wholistically is just as crucial. When we weave mind, body, and spirit into our homeschooling, something magical happens. It gives them a deep sense of being whole and capable, setting them on a path of self-discovery and mindfulness that will last their whole lives.
The Power of a Wholistic Homeschooling Approach
Holistic homeschooling embraces the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit. By acknowledging and nurturing these aspects of our children's development, we lay the foundation for balanced growth, self-awareness, and resilience. Let's explore how we can integrate these elements into our homeschooling journey.
Nurturing the Mind: Expanding Horizons
Traditional education often emphasizes rote learning and standardized tests, but homeschooling opens the door to a wider learning range. Encourage your children to explore diverse subjects, rather than focusing solely on core subjects. Foster their curiosity and let them indulge in intellectual endeavors that ignite their passion.
Empower your kids with critical thinking skills. Engage them in thought-provoking discussions and encourage them to question everything, including the status quo. A mind that questions is a mind that seeks truth and understanding.
Strengthening the Body: A Temple of Power
Incorporate physical activities into your homeschooling routine. Whether it's yoga, dancing, sports, or simply playing in the great outdoors, movement not only enhances physical health but also releases endorphins, promoting happiness and well-being. Teach your children the significance of nourishing their bodies with wholesome foods. Involve them in meal planning and preparation, creating a connection between the food they eat and its impact on their health. Also, be sure to include lessons on herbs and other natural healing to help prevent, as well as heal from many ailments.
Nourishing the Spirit: A Journey Within
Introduce mindfulness practices to your homeschooling curriculum. Meditation, breathing exercises, and moments of reflection allow kids to find stillness amidst the chaos and develop a deep connection with their inner selves. Foster an attitude of gratitude in your homeschooling environment. Encourage kids to express appreciation for the little things, teaching them that gratitude is a powerful tool for cultivating happiness.
The Wholistic Homeschooling Curriculum: A Journey of Self-Discovery
Incorporate mindful journaling into your homeschooling routine. Encourage your kids to pen down their thoughts, feelings, and reflections. Journaling is a magical gateway to self-discovery and personal growth. Embrace the power of creative expression. Art, music, and storytelling are potent ways for kids to externalize their emotions and connect with their inner worlds.
Nature is a profound teacher. Plan regular nature walks, letting your kids immerse themselves in the wonders of the natural world. These moments of communion foster a deep connection with the environment and oneself. Turn mealtimes into mindful rituals. Teach your children to savor each bite, acknowledging the effort put into growing, preparing, and serving the food.
Empowering Your Homeschooling Journey
Show your children the importance of a balanced life by living it yourself. Embrace mindfulness, physical activity, and continuous learning, inspiring them to do the same. Foster your kids' independence by allowing them to take charge of their learning journey. Let them explore their interests and passions, guiding them along the way.
Each child is a magical being with unique gifts and abilities. Celebrate their individuality and encourage them to express themselves authentically. Homeschooling is a magical journey of discovery. Embrace the joy of learning alongside your children, and let the enchantment of knowledge and growth unfold.
In Conclusion: Empowerment Through Wholistic Homeschooling
Unlock the power within your homeschooling experience by integrating mind, body, and spirit. Embrace the wholeness that comes from nurturing all three aspects of our being, and watch as your children blossom into mindful, confident, and empowered individuals. As we embark on this journey of wholistic education, let us remember that by empowering our children to control their own future, we are empowering them to embrace life's wonders and create a world of boundless possibilities.
by Phoenix Desertsong, Parent of Three
There are many advantages to homeschooling your kids. Not everyone will do it the same, and in fact, there are many correct ways to do it. How you do homeschool is all up to how your kids learn best. But, there are some common homeschooling mistakes which can put your homeschool success at risk. The good news is that if you find yourself doing any of these five homeschooling mistakes that are easy to make, you can quickly learn how to avoid them.
Don't Set the Bar Too Low for Your Kids' Expectations
In traditional schools, research shows that teacher expectations have a direct effect on student performance. This is no different when it comes to homeschool. The main difference is homeschooling is that you as a parent are the teacher. Parents tend to have much stronger biases than school teachers when it comes to the perception of your child’s abilities.
Biases really become clear when you are homeschooling two or more children. Your son may be a math genius, while struggling to read aloud. Meanwhile, your daughter seems allergic to numbers, but reads aloud like a pro. The important thing is to not simply favor your children’s strengths. You need to set aside any preconceived notions you have about your child’s abilities in order to help them succeed.
The best teachers go into every lesson knowing that they will give every chance to succeed in that lesson. When you expect the best from children, you are far more likely to get their best effort. Sometimes what may be holding one child back in a subject is easily corrected. Be positive and encouraging, especially when a child is doing something he or she struggles at. You may be surprised that a child who appears bad at math just needs it taught in a slightly different way, only to discover that he or she is actually rather good at it.
Of course, don’t set your expectations so high that they are unrealistic. Allow your kids to work through things at their own pace. That’s a major advantage of homeschool: your kids don’t get left behind or get way ahead of the rest of the class. Use that advantage to their advantage.
Don’t Simply Teach the Way YOU Liked to Learn
It’s been said that certain types of teaching styles are better than others. While there is some truth to this, it’s more accurate to say that certain teaching styles are more effective with certain individuals than others. Yes, you may have learned just fine from lectures yourself, but some kids just get bored.
Just because something worked for you in your own learning doesn’t mean it will work for your kids. Even more importantly, if you have multiple kids, they may not learn as well by the same method as the other. The best thing to do is try different teaching styles, such as showing videos, doing hands-on activities, and using highly visual presentations. Then, ask your children for what they prefer and adjust accordingly. There is no one size fits all approach to learning. This has been known for years. That’s yet another advantage of homeschool you should help your kids use to their advantage.
Not Setting Rules For Learning Time (AKA Classroom Management)
This is where I partly disagree with many homeschooling experts: separating “class” time from other regular at-home activities. Some people feel that their own in-home system if discipline, rules, amd consequences are enough. I actually mostly agree with that.
However, it IS important to have some simple rules for learning time, especially if you are trying to have a more regular classroom setting. These rules can be as simple as not talking over others, paying attention, and doing the work in a timely manner. Some children do need that structure to stay on task. Really, it’s more about setting up a routine that kids know what to do and have respect for learning time. Plus, you want to teach your kids good work habits.
Of course, some parents don’t want to set any rules for learning time. They’ll just let their kids sort of wander sometimes. Honestly, if that’s happening, you should be trying to teach a different way. The beauty of children is that if you’re doing it right, you will know, and vice versa. The best rule of thumb is to not be strict and inflexible, but instead adaptable and flexible.
Only Teaching One Thing at a Time
In most traditional school settings, subjects are taught one at a time. This is how many homeschool parents schedule their days, often one subject per hour. It works, right? Well, it’s been found through the years that having an overarching theme throughout the day informing what you do in each subject is more effective. By each subject being interrelated, kids tend to retain what they’ve learned much better.
Some schools have done this for years. One day the class will have Bird Day and another day there will be Cat Day, and so on. This isn’t true everywhere, of course, especially when you get into middle school and junior high where students begin to have different teachers for each subject. But I remember having themed days and weeks in elementary school, and wow, does it make a difference having every subject relate to it. Unfortunately, they weren’t every day and usually had something to do with a holiday or event.
Some educators have made it a point to design curriculums with study units that have a theme that ties together math, reading, science, and social studies. Students have been found to retain more and have more fun with learning when they are taught with themes, even if those themes only show up in loosely related ways.
One great example I’ve found has to do with animals with predictable life cycles, particularly frogs. You don’t just teach about a frog’s predictable life cycle during science time. You can have a book about a frog during reading time that covers a lot of the same concepts through a story. Then, you can teach multiplication using frog legs, such as if there are 5 frogs with 4 legs each, how many frog legs? It’s a cute example, but even younger children will pick up on a lot of these concepts more easily because it was taught in a fun and interesting way.
Teaching is NOT Telling
Yes, even though this seems like a really basic mistake,teachers and parents alike still do the whole “tell, not show” thing. Yes, it is far more common for teachers to “show, not tell” even in a lecture setting, but the opposite is more common than you think. Yes, there are some students that are perfectly fine with being told about something. But, in many cases, simply telling about something isn’t enough to make it stick with your student.
Teaching is NOT just telling. Yes, telling is a part of it, but you have to show an example of what you’re telling for it to be most effective. Really, the best way not to fall into the “tell, not show” trap is to change up your learning styles. Switch up between using hands-on activities, visual aids, tech-based learning, and more. Also remember that as a teacher, you are learning, too. You might be learning a different way, in that you’re learning how to teach more effectively, but you are. As you learn and improve your teaching methods, you’ll see your children improve in their own learning, too.
We hope that you’ve found this advice helpful and hope that it can help you become a better homeschool teacher. Do you find yourself making any of these homeschooling mistakes yourself? How have you overcome certain difficulties in your own homeschool?
by Phoenix Desertsong, Parent of Three
Taking full responsibility for your child's education through homeschooling can be fun and exciting. There are many choices to be made. While this freedom has many benefits, parents can also find themselves suffering from homeschool burnout.
Some common reasons for burnout aren't even directly related to homeschooling. These reasons can include a new baby or an illness. But, the changes in routines and added responsibilities of doing homeschool can also be factors that lead to homeschool burnout.
However, homeschool burnout doesn't need to be a bad thing. It should instead be seen as a wake-up call that you need to make adjustments. Here are 3 tips on avoiding homeschool burnout.
Be Patient with Homeschool and Yourself
Just as you need patience as a parent, you need to be even more patient in your additional role as homeschool teacher. Don't try to be perfect. Have realistic expectations for each day. It's easy to plan too much. Don't set the bar too high.
You're going to have good days and bad days. Everyone does. Even the best laid plans can go away. So, don't stress as long as you're making some progress everyday.
Be Flexible With Your Schedule and Teaching Methods
A major advantage of homeschool is that if you find one teaching method doesn't work, you can change it! In fact, this may be the greatest advantage over traditional school environments. So, if you're burnt out by doing things a certain way, you can try a different method. Also, you may find doing homeschool activities at different times and breaking things up could help relieve tension and stress. Being flexible helps you recognize when you're burning out so you can switch things up.
Don't Go Overboard with Your Homeschool Plans
Because you are in full control of your homeschool schedule, it can be easy to pack too much into a day. This is especially true when you're doing a lot of social activities. Even if your child seems to be able to handle it, you need to be able to as well. A burnt out parent isn't any good, as your child will feed off your frustration, which can increase your chances of burnout.
Also, whenever possible, it's a good idea to get homeschool support from your spouse, partner, friends, or neighbors. There are also homeschool groups that can help you with social events. Don't try to do everything by yourself if you don't have to and know your limits. Find that happy place where you feel that you can still teach your child effectively and still be an effective parent afterwards, too.
When making the decision to homeschool your children, there will be a variety of things you'll need to be aware of. Some of those things include laws, where to find resources and materials, how to plan a schedule and curriculum, and even record-keeping and grading. Elementary record-keeping is often simpler than during high school (and possibly also in grades 6 - 8). This is due to the necessity of transcripts and course credits in higher grade levels. As a veteran homeschool mom, I've tried many record keeping methods.
What Records and Grades Will You Track?
This might seem like a question that has a simple answer, but it may not. Does your state require attendance records? If so, you will need to record attendance daily. Even if they do not, this is something you just may want to have for your personal records. This way, if any questions or issues related to attendance or truancy come up later, you always have it for reference. Some states require records of the lessons or materials used to teach the children, as well as grades and scores received daily and on lessons. Some have no regulation or requirements on this at all.
Do I Really Need to Track Everything?
Whether your state requires it or not, you may choose to record this information for your own personal information. You never know when the information will come in handy personally or professionally. It is always better to have too many records than it is to be caught off guard and have none. While some states require no record-keeping and are not allowed to inquire about your child's studies, other states are allowed to ask and you are required to provide that information when asked. Outside of following regulations, keeping records will help you keep your child on track.
Preparing Homeschool Record-Keeping and Grade-Tracking Methods
Teacher's planners can be purchased at office supply and teacher supply stores. There are also many homeschool sites that offer printable plans. I personally prefer to use a combination of my own forms and a few quality ones I've found online. Remember that you are going to need several things, including attendance forms, grade sheets, report card sheets, a curriculum and material list, and more. Those are the basics, but your state may ask for more.
Documenting the Grades in a Homeschool
Determine how often you will take down grades and what exactly needs to be graded. You can determine this by evaluating your individual needs and comparing it to state requirements. You may have extra tracking that you would like to do outside of what is asked for. Because you are the teacher, unless your state requires a specific method, you can choose how to determine grades. You may simply follow what is done by area schools, operate on a pass/fail plan, or opt for something else. As long as your method is in compliance with area regulations, being consistent matters more than the method itself.
*Please note that laws and requirements vary by area. Please check with the area Department of Education to see what is required in your state. This guide is meant for informational purposes only.
Home School Laws
Homeschool Reporting Online
At times it can be difficult and downright stressful to try and run a work at home business out of your home while homeschooling. Trust me, I’ve been there. You may have business phone calls coming in while you're trying to teach a lesson. If you don't answer the phone, you may lose money, but if you do, you may be interrupting an important homeschool lesson plan or worksheet explanation. To solve the problem of juggling your work at home job while homeschooling, you need some tips and a plan from somewhere who’s been there.
Scheduling a Regular Work Time and School Time
You usually need at least 4 hours of homeschooling each day to fully benefit the child as well as to fulfill the requirement for most states (check your state’s requirements). Schedule that time around your work at home schedule. Let's say you need 8 hours of work time and 4 hours of homeschool time. Your work hours might be from 5 am to 1pm, allowing for breakfast time. Lunch can be made at 1pm if you give a healthy snack in between. At 2pm, you can then start homeschool and finish at 6pm. This is just one example. Schedule times according to your family’s needs.
Being More Flexible With Times
If your family needs even more flexibility, you can do things like prepare lunch or dinner while teaching the kids. You can also use the method where the child basically instructs him or herself while you work, using your pre-written lesson instructions for each subject. If the child has questions, you are still there, but the questions don't usually take very long to answer. Since most homeschooled kids learn faster, this method may even be possible at a younger age. Use your better judgement.
To do it this way, you will need to have plenty of things handy to keep the kids busy in case they finish their homeschool lessons during your work time. If you are the only parent available, be sure to give your kids love and attention during your work hours and know where they are and what they are doing at all times. If both parents are working at home during homeschool hours, this can be much easier. One can teach the kids and one can run the business. You can even take turns.
What About Field Trips & Home Economics?
Remember that field trips do not always have to occur during the homeschool week when it isn't possible. A field trip can be done during the weekend, when there is more time. By doing this, the field trip can also count for school hours, which means that the children could take some time off during the week, equivalent to the learning time spent on the field trip. This may also add more availability for your work at home job.
If this time is taken off, the children can chip in with housework and the business, leaving more time for you to get your work done. Chores are an important part of learning, as your children will need these skills when out on their own. You can consider this part of home economics class.
Who Will Answer Business Phone Calls During Homeschool Hours?
One way to solve the phone call problem is to use a virtual office service during your homeschooling hours. This will help ensure you don't miss calls, but your kids will still get their education. As mentioned above, the children may also be able to answer some business calls for you. If another parent is available, one can answer the phone calls and another can teach the kids and/or do other things related to the work at home business. There are many ways to solve this. You just have to be creative and use whatever works best for your family.
Pulling it All Together to Juggle Your Work at Home Job While Homeschooling
You can use the ideas here or come up with your own unique way. The important thing is to brainstorm and make sure your ideas work for all involved. Thinking ahead regarding homeschool lessons and work at home duties will relieve stress greatly. You can take a weekend to plan everything as far in advance as possible. Put homeschool assignments and business plans in order in clearly labeled folders for ease of use. Calendars, planners, and other organization tools may also be helpful. Working at home while also homeschooling is not as hard as it may first appear, if you keep an open and willing mind. You just have to figure out what all the needs are and find a way that you can meet them all.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
The Social Scene For Homeschooled Teens
I have been asking readers their concerns about homeschool. Sometimes parents worry that teens educated in the home may miss out on prom and other activities. Layla Lair was wondering if I had any suggestions on things homeschooled teens could do to stay social and continue to develop relationships.
Like teens in a traditional school setting, homeschooled teens also can participate in team sports. Sports are great for social skills. Teens not only learn how to work with others, but they may also find lasting friendships. Many areas have teams for homeschooled teens. However, they also are often allowed to play on local high school teams or other co-ed teams that are open to all teens, regardless of schooling method. This actually gives a homeschooled teen more choices in some instances.
Volunteer work is not only a very noble and useful act, but it can also add to the social life of a teen. Depending on the type of volunteer work, teens may interact with people that are a wide range of ages, including their own. This gives valuable work and even friendship experiences. Plus teens will come away from something like this knowing they've made a difference in someone else's life. Homeschooled teens may have more options to choose from when it comes to volunteer work because their school schedule could be more flexible.
Afterschool Clubs & Organizations
Afterschool clubs and organizations are not restricted to teens in traditional school. Homeschooled teens can attend these social gatherings and activities as well. Organizations that provide great social, physical, and educational activities, such as the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club, are open to everyone.
Just like a teen in traditional school may get an afterschool job to earn college funds or simply to learn responsibility, so can a homeschooled teen. This not only provides valuable work ethics and experience, but it also can be a great social environment. In many job settings, teens will come across a variety of people every day.
Community College Classes
Because homeschooled teens have a flexible schedule, this leaves many open to taking extra courses at the community college. This is excellent for earning college credits, but homeschooled teens can also use this as an extra social opportunity.
Homeschooling allows for more flexibility as far as where school takes place. For many homeschool families, school is not always about the books. Of course, it has to be for some things, but homeschooled teens have the opportunity to learn things through doing them versus only reading about them in a book. For instance, when learning about certain things in natural science, a homeschooled teen could study the natural environment.
When learning about other things, the teen may go to a museum tour, take an extra course outside the home, or the parent may hire an expert to give a lecture. Children in traditional school do this with some things as well, but a homeschooled teen has more freedom and opportunity to do this with many more lessons. In doing many of these things, there will be social interaction.
Church Clubs & Activities
If the homeschooled teen happens to be one of certain faiths, he or she may belong to a church. Many will have classes, activities, clubs, and events that the teen can get involved in. Some of these might include choir, praise dancing, drama, Sunday school, or even volunteering. By joining church activities and clubs, the teen can add another opportunity for social interaction with peers.
Prom and Other Teen Activities
Many worry that their teen will not have a prom or be able to attend school games or other events if they are homeschooled. This does not have to be a reality. Not only do many homeschool organizations and groups hold events like these for homeschooled teens, but they may also get invited to the events at the local high schools. A homeschooled teen may have friends that attend the local high school and most will allow students to bring along someone from another school. This includes homeschooled kids.
Homeschool Group Activities
Some families who homeschool choose to join homeschool groups. These are groups of people who also homeschool their children. They meet a certain number of times each week or month for social activities, field trips, events, and more.
Homeschool co-ops are when parents of homeschooled children hold various classes for the children at scheduled times. One parent is generally assigned to each subject and the group agrees to meet at a specified time a certain number of times per week or month. Some homeschool co-ops are meant as a supplement to what the children are learning at home, as well as a way for the children to socially interact with each other. Yet others are used much in the same way as traditional school.
Family as Friends
Some teens may have one or more siblings or relatives they spend time with frequently. While these friends are part of the family, they still can be considered and do have an important role in social interaction. Whether a friend or group of friends comes from inside or outside the family, interacting with them adds to the overall social skills of a teen. The same is true for the parent-child relationship. Varied relationships and opportunities put together create a great social network for a teen.
Ordinary Teen Activities
A homeschool teen is still a teen, just like a public school kid is a teen and a private school kid is a teen. They are all individuals, hopefully not defined only by which type of school they attend. On that same note, teens do not have to attend the same school or even the same type of school to maintain a friendship. Ordinary teen social activities, such as hanging out with friends, going to the mall, going to movies, and more are all activities you might see a teenager doing.
A homeschooled teen is no different in this regard. If they had friends before starting homeschool, those friends don't automatically disappear. If the teen has been homeschooled all his or her life, there are (and likely already were) plenty of opportunities to make friends, such as at any of the activities listed above, interacting with neighbors, and much more.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Why Don't Homeschool Parents Teach in a School Building? Back to School Concerns
Back to Homeschool: Establishing a Routine
Gym Class Activities for Homeschool
When you make the choice to homeschool your children, there are many things to consider. As a mom who has homeschooled, I’ve experienced the possible answers to many of the questions you may have on your mind. Below, you will see the questions, along with what I feel are the best answers, based on our experiences. In addition to being a mother of homeschoolers, I have also studied extensively on the subject and feel confident in the answers I have provided below.
Q: How do I get started with homeschooling and who do I contact to inform of my decision?
A: Depending on the city or county you live in, the rules will be different. In many states, you will need to inform the school district, usually at their main office. In a few states, such as Texas, homeschooling is considered to be a private school and you need not inform anyone. In Texas, if your child attended traditional school before your choice to homeschool, you should inform the child's school that the child will now be homeschooled, so they can update their records and your child will not be considered truant. Nothing else is needed. Texas is often considered the best place to homeschool because of homeschools being considered private school.
For more information on what to do in your state, please click here.
Q: Is homeschooling legal?
A: Yes. Homeschooling is perfectly legal, in the United States. However, some restrictions and regulations apply and the laws are always changing, so be sure to check the law for your specific state.
Q: What is required for instruction?
A: All states have different subject and hour requirements, but most will include math, history, science, character development, reading and language, and US Government or Constitution. Check your state's requirements.
Q: What is the best curriculum?
A: The best curriculum will actually depend on the individual child.Research should be done to determine which curriculum is appropriate according to each child's individual needs as well as instructional needs. Remember to have a good balance between what your child enjoys, what is required to be learned at his or her age, as well as what will cater to any disabilities or constraints, such as ADHD or low attention span.
Also remember to cater to a variety of learning methods. A well-rounded lesson should include oral instruction, hands-on instruction, verbal practice, and visual stimulation. In other words, the child needs to hear it, see it, do it, speak it, and write it. For children weak in any of those areas, this will strengthen those weaknesses, as well as form a better understanding. All children will respond to at least one of the methods, but rather than focusing on only the method the child responds well to, it is best to give the child practice at all of them.
Q: What about socialization?
A: Socialization is often a great misconception. As with in traditional school, homeschoolers still have plenty of opportunities to socialize. There are often more opportunities to socialize in homeschool than traditional school. Many homeschoolers encourage social interaction more than a parent of a traditionally-schooled child simply because of the (often) false concern surrounding homeschool and socialization.
More On Socialization:
Homeschool Myths: Kids Who Homeschool Have Poor Social Skills
Homeschooling to Get Positive Social Interaction?
Q: What if I want to write/customize my own curriculum to each child, but don't know what is required for each subject and grade level?
A: You can check the website for the Department of Education in your state. Every state lists the requirements this way. Each state has different requirements, so be sure to check the correct state.
Q: Is homeschooling the best method?
A: The best method will vary for each student and parent. While homeschooling may be ideal for one family, another family may get better results in a public or private school. Things to consider are time, expenses, willingness of parent to teach effectively and efficiently, willingness of student to cooperate with parent during lessons, willingness of parent to provide socialization opportunities, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, dedication to study (by parent as well as child), ability to provide proper instruction and materials, and many more things.
Write down everything you will need for homeschooling, along with all of your child's special needs and the requirements for his or her grade level. If you can meet all those challenges, your family is ready for homeschool. Even if you have only met a few, if you know that it is possible for your family to fill in the other spots, you are still ready. However, if there are problems with any areas, you may want to consider private tutoring, private school, or public school. While homeschooling provides a great opportunity, if it is not taken seriously, any opportunity it would have provided is lost.
See also: Homeschool: Are You the Right Parent for the Job?
Q: Are homeschooled children allowed to participate in team sports?
A: Yes. There are many teen sports that are especially for homeschooled children. However, if you would like your children to participate with kids in all types of school environments, try having them join sports teams offered by the local YMCA or Parks & Recreational Department. Another option that is sometimes allowed is for homeschooled children to join the sports team of the school they would normally attend if they were in public school. Some schools allow this and some do not. Check with your local school for this information and for tryout information, should they approve of a homeschooler joining their leagues.
Q: My child is in middle or high school. What about proms, diplomas, and graduation requirements?
A: In some states, homeschooled children will graduate and attend proms and other events right along with traditionally high schooled children. However, there are other options such as homeschool group graduations, proms, and events. It is up to the parent to decide what is best for the child and what works for the family. A homeschool diploma can also be made on your home computer, but be careful to also create transcripts. If this part will be too difficult for you, consider using a service that caters to homeschoolers. These services make transcripts and diplomas for you. One such service is VDM Educator Services. This is a website with diploma and transcript templates for the parent to easily fill out and print.
Also, a homeschooled child still must take and pass ACT and SAT tests in high school in order to graduate.
Q: What standardized tests must my child take every year?
A: Depending on your state, this will vary. But, usually beginning in grade 3 a child would take the state standardized test required of all students, This test would be taken each year thereafter. (In Texas, this is likely the TAKS or TEKS. In Colorado, it will likely be the CSAP.) Contact your state's Department of Education for dates and times for homeschooled children to be tested and for information on whether it is required or not. If it is not a requirement, it is still a good idea to have your child/ren take the test. It will be a good indicator for you as to whether your child is getting proper instruction or not.
Disclaimer: While the author believes the above answers to be true and correct, neither the author, nor the website where this is published claims responsibility for the information provided. It is the parent's responsibility to properly research this information when deciding to homeschool. This article serves only as a starting point for parents considering homeschool. Everything contained herein, as well as any other concerns and questions a party may have about homeschool should be properly researched with the appropriate entities.
Ask Lyn about other homeschool concerns.
*This author welcomes feedback and discussion in the comments below.
**I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Personal Experience and Research on Homeschooling and Socialization
As the concept of homeschooling continues to ease back into the mainstream, where it began, more and more questions and myths seem to follow. One myth that is very often assumed of homeschooled kids is that they do not have proper social skills or don't interact with others. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me about my children or homeschool in general in relation to socialization, I'd likely be rich. Unfortunately for my wallet, that isn't the case.
While at first thought, considering the fact that school is often assumed to be done only inside the home, it seems that a social environment may be unavailable. However, a homeschooled child may actually have more opportunity than others to gain positive social skills and interact with people. One reason for this is that because of the flexibility in class scheduling, as well as the unique opportunity to learn whenever or wherever desired, homeschoolers are often around a variety of people during the day.
In fact, in a study published by the NHERI (National Home Education Research Institute), homeschool students had scores in social skills that were higher than those of kids in public schools. As a homeschool parent, this study doesn't surprise me at all, as I observed positive social results from homeschool in my children who previously attended public school, as well as those who homeschooled exclusively at first.
One way children who attend a homeschool can interact is through activities. THis may include dance classes, religious activities (if applicable), Girl Scouts, 4H, sports, extra classes, YMCA, rec center memberships, and much more. Any activity available to a public or private school student is also available to a home school student.
However, homeschooled students actually have an advantage in this area because they can join activities that public schooled children also have available, as well as join homeschool-specific activities. These activities can be utilized at any time of the day because of the versatility of rearranging the academic schedule around them.
Some homeschooled kids also take academic and elective classes outside of the home. This gives them the chance to be around their peers and if the classes are taken in addition to classes they learn at home, it also gives them an academic boost.
Many homeschool families also plan a good amount of field trips. When homeschooling, there is the versatility of being able to plan a field trip for every unit of study, if desired. Field trips will generally involve a diverse public scene, which is great for socialization, as this is how the real world is.
A good number of homeschooling families opt for yearly passes or membership to museums, zoos, and other educational places. In some states, like Texas, home schools who are members of a homeschool group, association, or organization can get a teacher or educator discount at many of the field trip locations.
Speaking of home school groups, that's another way homeschooled children can interact with peers. These groups, associations, and organizations often plan parties, book sales, curriculum exchanges, field trips, play dates, fairs, and other social events where the children will interact with each other. According to the HSLDA, the average homeschooled child is involved in about 5.2 social activities. 98% are involved in at least 2 activities.
Many homeschooling families also get active in library events, such as story time, craft classes, and educational classes. A day time trip to the grocery store where a homeschooled child uses math to purchase groceries and communicates with the cashier can be a mini social event as well.
There are many events like these in a homeschooler's life, as many of them believe in using every opportunity possible to learn lessons and to communicate with others. Because of this, a child in home school is likely to possess excellent teamwork skills, which are very necessary in college and in the workforce.
As you can see, homeschooled children will be exposed to many social environments throughout their homeschooling experience. Because of the flexibility in homeschooling and the availability of so many activities and opportunities, homeschooled children will be around a variety of age groups, races, and other socioeconomic backgrounds, possibly more so than children in a traditional school setting.
Even the ones who do the majority of their schooling in the home are likely still involved in activities, as well as playing and interacting with friends and relatives, which still gives them social experience.
From all of the information above, as well as personal experience and study, I would have to conclude that homeschooled children actually have a social advantage over those in public or private school, not a disadvantage, as is often mistakenly assumed.
For those interested in homeschooling or just interested in finding out more information and research on homeschooling, I recommend that you visit the following links, do your own research, as well as talk to other homeschoolers to see what they’re doing.
Recommended Research and Info Sources:
NHERI (National Home Education Research Institute)
NHELD (National Home Education Legal Defense)
HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association)
HSLDA 1997 Study on Social Skills in Homeschooled Kids
NHERI Volume 17 Study on Homeschooled Childrens’ Social Skills
I am also available for many homeschooling questions at Ask Lyn.
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**Questions? Have something to say or add? This author welcomes feedback and discussion in the comments section below.
***I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Can Kids in Homeschool Receive a Diploma?
One very common homeschool myth is the one regarding high school diplomas. It is often assumed that because homeschoolers are not attending a traditional school setting, they won't be able to receive a high school diploma. This simply isn't true.
There are actually a variety of ways for a child in homeschool to receive a diploma. If the parent is doing some or all of the teaching, the parent will need to keep transcripts, as well as issue the diploma. Blank diplomas can be purchased for this purpose from many locations, including the HSLDA.
Another way a homeschooled teen can receive a high school diploma is through a virtual high school program or even through a high school correspondence course. These programs must be completed and paid for (where pay is applicable) before the diploma will be issued.
Sometimes homeschooled children take classes in local community colleges, public schools, homeschool co-ops, or other schools or organizations. If this is the case, the parents will need to be sure these credits are kept track of by records from those schools.
If the schools are attended full time (or sometimes even part time), the schools will generally keep track of credits and issue them. Some may even issue a diploma. However, since homeschool is the parent's responsibility, the parent should always be aware of whether the schools will do this or not. If not, the parent is responsible for making sure the child gets the diploma and transcripts.
Oftentimes, even the schools who don't issue a diploma will still give out credits. If the goal for the child taking outside classes is to earn college and high school credits, parents need to be sure the school being used awards the type of credits the child will need for the desired college path and also be sure they will be giving out some form of documentation for record-keeping purposes.
If none of the above scenarios are taken, the child can opt to earn a GED instead by taking classes and a test. However, when choosing this route, parents should keep in mind that a GED is sometimes looked at as something that was resorted to out of failure to receive a diploma.
The above scenarios are only some of the ways in which a homeschooled teen can receive a high school diploma. Anyone considering homeschool through high school should do the research and decide which method will fit their child and family the best. A good place to start researching homeschool is the HSLDA.
Based on the variety of options a homeschooling child has to receive a high school diploma, I believe it's pretty fair to say that this myth is just that; a myth. A homeschooled child can definitely receive a diploma.
*Have any extra tips or questions? Sound off in the comment section below!
Should Every Parent Homeschool?
If you came across this article, chances are you are wondering about homeschooling your child. Are you the right parent for the job? Can any parent teach? Should every parent homeschool? These questions may be running through your mind. As a seasoned parent, homeschool teacher, and advocate for choice in education, perhaps my advice and experience can help you make this difficult and important decision.
What Does it Take to be a Homeschool Teacher?
While I am an advocate for choice in education, including homeschool, I am not going to sugar coat things to entice others to do what I do. I will not tell you that it's easy. If anything, the homeschool choice can make some things more complicated. It takes hard work and dedication from both the parents (and/or homeschool teacher) as well as the children. Though it is not easy, in my opinion, the main things required of a parent are willingness, love, and a commitment to their child's educational needs. I feel any parent with those three things may be the right candidate to be a homeschool parent and teacher.
Do I Need a Teaching Degree to Homeschool?
Because laws can change and because not all states will have the same laws, this is not necessarily a yes or no answer. Check with your state's local school board, as well as homeschool organizations for this information. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is also a great place to keep up with legalities and other aspects of homeschool. As for whether or not a parent has the ability to teach without a degree, read "Can a Parent Be a Homeschool Teacher Without a Degree?" for my opinion and research on that matter. In short, the answer is yes, it is possible.
Should All Parents Homeschool?
Asking if all parents should homeschool is similar to asking if all people should be on a basketball team. Not everyone has the talent to do so, but those who do should definitely exercise it. I believe that homeschooling is the best choice when parents are able to sufficiently educate the children and have the dedication it takes to do so. But, just like all people do not make great parents, athletes, or singers, not all people make great homeschool teachers.
How Do I Know if I'm the Right Parent for the Job?
If you can remain dedicated to doing what's best for your child's education you may be able to homeschool. Research to see what other homeschoolers are doing and ask yourself if you can do similar things. You may consider the following questions. Do I have patience for teaching my child? Will I be sure to find proper resources when I don't know a lesson my child needs to learn? Can I keep my child involved in social activities? Those are just some of the many things you will need to think about. There is no exact formula of determining who should homeschool. However, doing research and thinking about what's involved and whether it works for your family and situation can help.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Is a Teaching Degree Necessary for Homeschooling?
Schooling children at home is becoming more and more prevalent as parents look at a variety of schooling options for the children. A question that comes up often when choosing to homeschool is the question of whether a parent can really become a child's teacher. Below, we will look at some questions that often surround that big question to find the answer.
What if the Parent Has No Degree?
There are many curricula on the market that will contain everything needed to instruct the child. Even when a packaged curriculum is not used, the parent can teach the child from the chosen class materials. Most textbooks and workbooks will come with answer keys. When they do not, it is quite simple for a parent to look up the answers in an encyclopedia, in the study material, at the library, or on the internet.
Another thing to remember is that just because a person has not gone to college and received a degree, it does not mean the person is not intelligent. Many people enjoy studying about a variety of topics at their leisure. Even when this is not the case, as previously stated, the answers are simple to find and they can be found prior to instructing the children.
Many parents who homeschool examine the material before presenting it to the children. According to the HSLDA, there is no significant difference between the scores of a homeschooled student whose parent held a degree, versus a student whose parent did not. Homeschooled students also score significantly higher than public schooled students.
What if the Child Has Questions the Parent Cannot Answer?
When there are questions presented by the child, the parent can instruct the child by teaching them to refer back to the study material to answer questions. Parent and child can do this together. If the question is not found in the study material the parent can say something like "Let's learn more about that" and can look in encyclopedias, through other study materials, and even on the internet. There are always a variety of ways to find an answer.
What About Subjects The Parent Knows Nothing About?
There are a variety of options for this scenario. One option is for the parent to learn about the subject a little bit at a time, ahead of the child, and then instruct the child on the topic. Another option could be to hire a tutor for those subjects. Another way to solve this could be to enroll the child in an online school, either just for that subject, or for all subjects, depending on the child and family's needs. Yet another option could be to place the child in a class outside the home for that subject. There are likely many more options. Those are just a few.
Will It Be Stressful For The Child?
Some may worry about children feeling some sort of anxiety over their parent teaching them. Some students may feel pressured to over-perform. If that is the case, if the stress does not die down after a reasonable amount of time, home school may not be the right choice. However, in many situations, the children will actually feel a comfort in knowing their parent will be instructing them. Many children might actually feel a relief of stress from homeschooling.
How Will The Parent Separate School And Home?
Depending on the family and the style of schooling, this may not even be necessary. With homeschooling, there is the benefit of being able to school in the same loving and nurturing way as you would parent. However, if a family does prefer to separate school and home, a schedule and set of rules that the family sticks to for school time can easily take care of that.
How Will The Parent Know What To Teach?
Just as a traditional teacher derives information from the Department of Education, so will a parent who homeschools. This information is easily attainable and is public information. Also, the HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) has plenty of helpful information and resources to point parents in the right direction. Plus, as mentioned previously, there are online schools, as well as curriculum and other resources readily available.
Is a Teaching Degree Necessary to Homeschool?
While having a teaching degree would certainly be helpful and beneficial, it isn't always necessary. While this will not be the right choice for every family, there are many homeschooling families that are successful in schooling without a parent having a teaching degree. All factors should be weighed before making a decision like this. However, with determination and dedication, teaching home school without a degree is certainly possible.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Homeschooling can be challenging, but because of the freedom allowed, such as not waiting for everyone in class to finish a subject, the students sometimes find themselves finishing classes early. Many children will still want to do something. Below are some free things to do when kids finish their homeschool lessons early.
- Do crossword puzzles, word searches, or other pencil word games. These stimulate the brain, which is excellent for comprehension skills.
- Take a nature walk. Try to reference something from recent studies. If that isn't possible, teach a lesson about what you do see.
- Play flashcard games. These can help to keep current lessons fresh in the mind. Flashcards can be made for any subject using index cards. Just cut them in half for a more convenient size.
- Make and play a homemade learning game together. Games can be made out of many different things. For a jumpstart on homemade math games, try these free, easy and effective math games for kids.
- Play educational software on the computer or online educational games. Educational games can stimulate the brain and some games can even teach new things.
- Visit a local library and attend storytime. This will not only be fun and educational, but it's a great opportunity for socializing with other children. Library storytime is often very interactive, requiring children to work together.
- Do extra language or math worksheets. This might sound hard to believe, but my children actually enjoy worksheets and sometimes ask to complete more than what were assigned in these areas.
- Practice handwriting skills. Having good handwriting skills can help your child immensely. Daily practice can be very useful. If you already practice this every day, a little extra time will be even more beneficial.
- Write a story. Writing is an essential life skill that should be practiced regularly.
- Keep a calendar of free events, festivals, and activities going on in your area. Check your calendar when the kids finish early to see if there's something you can surprise them with. Many cities also have free educational activities and classes available at universities, libraries, museums, churches, hospitals, parks, and more. Some are even especially for homeschoolers. Always check the paper and surf the internet for free offerings so you can keep many items on your calendar.
- Read a book. Reading stimulates the mind. In fact, there has been recent research showing that reading regularly is one of the very few ways to create new brain cells.
- Draw a descriptive picture of something recently learned. Putting thought into pictures helps improve comprehension, as well as enhance creativity and imagination.
- Watch an educational video.
- Do some of the next day's work. This will build confidence in children because they will learn they can do anything if they put their mind to it.
- Call around and see if any museums or zoos are offering a free day. If they are, take up the opportunity.
- Have a picnic (lunch or snack) and reading circle at the park or in your backyard.
- Go to the YMCA open gym. This will be free if you're a member. If you're not a member, the fee is minimal.
- Ride bikes to a local nature spot. This could be a large park, mountains, bayou, or any other area where wild animals might reside.
- Tour a neighboring city. This will require gas money and possibly money for food, but is relatively close to free.
Remember that learning can come in many forms. Keeping an open mind is essential to running a successful home school. You don't always have to spend money to learn. There are educational opportunities all around us. Also remember that it's okay to finish early and just let the kids play sometimes, too. After all, they did earn it by working so hard to finish early.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Decided to homeschool but have a limited to zero budget? That's perfectly fine. You don't have to purchase a fancy curriculum or fancy supplies. Sure, those can be nice, but they're really not necessary for a quality education. All you need is the good old internet, the library, nature, and an open mind. I will show you how to use the above resources to your full advantage.
Utilize the Public Library
This is a very powerful resource if you take full advantage of all it has to offer. The most obvious resource a library has is the books. There are so many books with so much information in them waiting to be checked out and read. There are regular story books, reference books, books on many topics your kids will study, and some libraries even have textbooks.
But, What Other Resources Does a Library Have?
All libraries will vary, but they usually have tapes, compact discs, and even VHS and DVD videos. Especially look for National Geographic videos when doing science lessons. You can also find how-to videos at most libraries that will be useful in a variety of different subjects.
Another good resource at a library is story-time. Although story-time is listed for younger ages, many elementary-aged children still enjoy it. Who doesn't enjoy listening to and acting out their favorite stories? There are also many free classes and workshops available at the library that can be very useful lessons. Some of the lessons I have seen include pottery making, drawing, American History, Ancient History, all about frogs, reading under the stars, and much more.
Just keep the librarians informed of what you are doing and what you need and they will help you. In fact, you will probably become good friends with the librarians because you will find yourself at the library often.
Take Advantage of Nature
Using nature to learn can be very effective as well as fun and exciting. Taking a simple nature walk can enrich the mind as well as the soul. Any park, zoo, or even your backyard or neighborhood field will do for a nature walk. See how many different animals and insects you can find. If you are studying leaves, collect and examine different types of leaves. Maybe you're studying mammals. See how many mammals your children can find and have them study their habits.
Whatever you're studying, be sure to observe it in it's natural state and bring home samples of it wherever possible. Nature holds an unlimited wealth of information. Be sure to use every opportunity nature gives you. Even if you come across something interesting that your child is not studying, it is still beneficial to take advantage of it.
Remember that nature does not always act in your favor, so if you see something you may be able to use later, study it as if you are learning about that subject. If you can, film it or at least document it in some other way (take pictures, write down everything, draw pictures, etc...). That way when you learn about it in more depth, you will have it to reference back to.
Peruse the Internet
There are many, many websites filled with the information you need. You don't have to be a pro to find it. Sure, it helps, but it isn't necessary. All you need is any search engine. I like to use a variety of search engines, to mix up the results a little. Some of the results will be the same, but some will not. Whatever you're looking for, think of the simplest way to word it and also in a way so you get more results.
Say you need an early fluency reading lesson. While early fluency is exactly what you want, sometimes words like this can give you results for items you'll have to pay for. Instead, try typing in "free reading lessons grade 1" or "free reading printables grade 1". Phrases like this produce the exact results you're looking for.
However, this can go both ways. Sometimes you do need to be very concise rather than wording it a certain way. Maybe your child is doing a research paper on Mary McLeod Bethune. You would just type in "Mary McLeod Bethune" because you want information on her. When you are just looking for information, type just the subject you're looking for so your info will be aplenty.
Another useful way the internet can help you is by networking. You can find lots of other homeschooling moms who are usually more than willing to share their ideas with you. Try searching homeschooling blogs, homeschooling forums, teacher forums, parenting forums, and even popular websites parents use that have their own forums.
Keep an open Mind
Sometimes life just throws learning opportunities at you. They may not always be the subjects your kids are learning at the time, but regardless, they are still important. Everything you say and do in daily life is a learning lesson. Don't underestimate the power of a grocery trip, a walk, a bike ride, a camping trip, a car ride, a talk during dinner, or any other daily activity.
Draw on life to teach your child new and exciting things daily. When your child asks a question, don't ever shrug off any question. No question is too big or too small. If you don't know the answer, look it up on the internet. you don't have to let your child know you don't know the answer. Just say something like, "That's a good question.Let's see what we can find about that." That way you don't sound unintelligent and your child still gets the answer.
Joining a homeschool group can also help. If your city doesn't have any, sometimes a city right outside your city can have one that would welcome you and your child. You'll probably learn so much teaching your child that you didn't learn in school. Homeschooling can do that to you.
Don't ever discount anything that can help your child learn. Some ideas people give you may seem outlandish at first, but as long as they don't harm anyone, most everything is worth a try. Your outlook on life will probably change a lot once you begin homeschooling. Who knows, you may even start your own homeschooling group.
More from Lyn:
Homeschool Tips: Can 'Free' Schooling or Unschooling Help My Child Succeed in Life?
How to Keep Homeschooled Tweens Active
Positive Parenting: Encouraging Educational Responsibility in Kids
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Making the schedule for your homeschool will help you find some organization in your busy day. Some days, you may not follow the schedule exactly. Someone may finish early or late. There might be a field trip or extracurricular activity. But it does help to have a visual plan in sight. As a homeschooling mother, I have made and re-made many homeschool schedules. Here is the way I have found to be the easiest and most effective.
Plan All Subjects Before Starting to Schedule
First, you'll need to figure out which subjects your child/ren will be learning and how much daily time is needed for each. Each family will have a different set of subjects, as some may wish to teach more about something that is valued in their family. All homeschoolers will have Reading/Language Arts, Science, Math, and Social Studies/History.
However, depending upon your state, your child may also need to learn something else besides the core subjects. Different states will vary, so be sure to look up your state's requirements and be sure to adhere to them. They also may change from time to time, so be sure to stay current with your state's laws by visiting the HSLDA website or your local Board of Education.
While not required, art, music, and physical education can help provide for a solid educational background. You may also choose to add the study of one or more religions or history in your family's cultural background. Don't forget to factor in a subject that particularly interests your child as well. This can be an interchangeable class, where you focus on certain things your child likes at the time. We call ours "Special Class".
Timing Makes a Schedule Successful
You'll need to specify times for each subject, as well as time for lunch and any extracurricular activities. Remember, some subjects aren’t necessary every day, which can help free up some time. For instance, alternate a few subjects or activities with each other that may tie in together or are miscellaneous activities that aren’t needed daily. Core subjects do need to be factored in each day, whether you are studying them through hands-on learning or from a book. A field trip or class outside of the home does count as instruction time, providing it has something to do with what the child is currently learning. Some trips, activities, or lessons might also include instruction for more than one subject.
Bringing Your Schedule Together on Paper and in Action
Lastly, you need to put the schedule on paper, factoring in the first two points. It may take a few tries to get it right, but don't worry. It will fall into place. Sometimes, once you have implemented the schedule, you may find too much time is allotted for one subject and not enough for another. Revise until you have it the way you want it.
Remember that during homeschool, some kids will finish earlier than planned. That's fine. Just move on to the next subject. In a homeschool setting, 6 or 7 hours of instruction may not be necessary because there are far less students to answer questions for, no roll calling (you already know who's there), and no time constraints as to when you can begin the next subject. As long as students are receiving adequate lessons and instruction (and you’re following your state’s laws), there’s nothing wrong with a shorter school day.
Here is a sample of one of our past homeschool schedules for an example of what can be done.
8:00 am - Warm-Up Time
This consists of yoga (exercise, as well as preparation for learning with an awakened mind, body, and spirit), pledge of allegiance, and reciting our own school motto.
8:30 am - Group Reading/Circle Time
Each person reads aloud from our current novel. Younger kids read from simple readers or picture books (whatever level they are on) before the novel and can continue to play with books or clay during novel reading.
9:00 am - Discussion & Reading Comprehension
Discuss the toddler books and the novel and ask appropriate comprehension questions. Toddlers can play in the circle with blocks or other "busy" toys once it’s time to discuss the novel.
9:30 am - Vocabulary/Spelling test or study
Toddlers may use abc or word flash cards instead.
9:45 am - Free reading
Read or look at picture books, according to appropriate levels.
10:30 am - Writing Assignment
Write in journal, do a research paper, complete a writing worksheet, or play a writing game on the computer - depends on what needs to be done) - Adult can make lunch while they’re doing this and toddlers can do something at their level, such as a game or drawing.
11:00 pm - Lunch
11:30 pm - Recess/Exercise/Sports
Rotate between sport of the month, exercise, and free play - if the weather's bad, do an exercise video or dance - toddlers participate where possible or just play actively.
12:15 pm - Math
Learn a lesson and complete related problems from textbook or worksheet - toddlers might be tracing numbers or using flash cards instead
12: 45 pm - Math Fun
Play a board game, computer game, or do a hands-on activity (such as pattern or counting games)
1:05 pm - Math Review
At times, review will be done along with the regular lesson or game. When this happens, we move on to the next subject.
1:35 pm - Miscellaneous
Rotate Character/Etiquette/Citizenship, World Religion, Home Economics, and French Lessons
2:05 pm - Social & World Studies
Social Studies, History, Geography, Government, or Black History Lesson with accompanied discussion, worksheet, or activity (rotate genre and lesson type)
2:30 pm - Science Lesson
Lesson with accompanying worksheet, discussion, or activity
3:00 pm - Snack & Cool-Down Break
You can play and eat outside, weather permitting.
3:30 pm - Art or Crafts
This may or may not be related to what we're studying, sometimes it's a free-for-all, sometimes it's a formal art lesson
4:00 pm - Music
Sing, learn about different aspects of music, or learn music history and culture.
4:30 pm - "Special-Class"
This is a time where you are free to ask any question about anything and have it answered. They can learn extensively on one question or they can ask more than one question and get simple answers to them all. My children usually prefer to learn extensively on their favorite question. One of my daughters almost always wants to learn something new about Egypt. Another has a new question every day.
5:00 pm - School's out!
Go to playroom, computer, or bedrooms while the adult cooks dinner (or help with dinner if you want)! Have Fun! This is your free time. When dinner is quick or we order food, we will all play outside or ride bikes, if everyone agrees, during this time and eat around 6:00.
Some days we will skip art and music if the kids want to play instead. Many times, the kids finish their assignments ahead of schedule. When this happens, we have a "free work" basket where the kids can pick from various worksheets (some fun, some work) to use up time. If there is still extra time after 1 worksheet, the person who is ahead can move on to the next subject.
Also, on certain days, there will be a class or field trip taken outside the home. On those days, only core subjects will be taught. If the trip lasts the entire day, we will do extra work in core subjects not covered during the trip on the following school day and skip whatever electives we need to skip to allow for time -- or if the kids feel like it, we'll just have a long school day, so they can still have their electives, but only if they want to.
Saturday and Sunday:
1. Go to library or bookstore for any references or books needed
2.Take any planned "field trips" that won’t work during the school week and bring along a sketchbook or notebook for each person, when useful (any follow-up work will be done on Monday during appropriate subject).
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Reuse, Recycle, and Cut Down on Homeschool Worksheets
How much paper does your homeschool use up from just worksheets in one school year? Chances are, the amount is going to be high. Paper is one product many Americans waste often. Obviously, paper and worksheets cannot be completely eliminated from the homeschool (or any) classroom. However, there are ways to be more eco-friendly with worksheets. As a homeschooling mom who is also all about anything natural or eco-friendly (ok, and I'm also cheap), I don't like to waste anything. Here are some of my ideas for being more eco-friendly with homeschool worksheets.
Use Recycled Printer Paper, ebooks, and Textbooks
Use recycled printer paper when printing out homeschool worksheets from your computer. There also are textbook rental services. Many homeschool materials can also be obtained through libraries and book swap services. Also check to see if your learning materials are available in ebook format. This way, only the pages that have to be get printed and it can be done on recycled paper.
Recycle Homeschool Worksheets After Use
Recycling homeschool worksheets may seem like a no-brainer, but many people no longer recycle paper. Just as aluminum, copper, and other consumer waste products can be recycled, so can paper. Look in your city's phone book or online directory service to find a recycling center that accepts paper.
Laminate Worksheets for Repeated Use
While the plastic used for lamination is not exactly eco-friendly, less paper will be used by laminating homeschool worksheets. Write and wipe or dry erase markers can be used as a writing medium. This way, once the worksheets have been graded, the ink can be erased and the lessons saved for another child or as review for the same child further in the year. If you only have one child, laminate the homeschool worksheets anyway and pass them on to another family. I like to keep ours in binders sorted by grade and subject levels.
Use Old Homeschool Worksheets as Scrap Pads for Study
Cut homeschool worksheets into four even pieces and staple groups of them together upside-down to create scrap pads for note-taking and study. The scrap pads are also great for grocery lists, score pads in family games, and more. Glue a magnet to the back of the last sheet to create a refrigerator notepad. To increase the eco-friendly act of the scrap pads, also use recycled pencils and soybean crayons.
Make Bookmarks and Other Craft Projects from Old Worksheets
Worksheets can be cut up to create bookmarks and other craft projects. Cut them in ready-made bookmark shapes for quick bookmarks. For more detailed ones, cut the worksheets in thin strips, shapes, or even use a hole puncher to create interesting pieces to glue together and laminate for longer use. The same methods can be followed for other paper crafts. For instance, the strips can be used as a filler for gift baskets. Don't forget to reuse or recycle the bookmarks and crafts once you are finished with them.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
As a mom who has experienced both public school and homeschool, I have learned many small things that can make a big difference. Many of these things are not going to be told to you when you decide to homeschool. Once you decide to homeschool, you are left to figure things out on your own. Below are some of the things I have learned along the way.
Vary Your Instructional Methods
By standing in front of your children at a blackboard or just in the middle of the room when you give some of your lessons, you can be sure that your children will be able to learn in this manner if they return to traditional school or if they attend any courses outside of the home, including when they go to college. However, it is also important to provide a variety of teaching methods, so that your children can learn how to pick up information in many different ways. One on one instruction is also a great tool that is very easy to incorporate into a homeschool classroom.
Headings On Papers are Still Important
This is a small, but important task many homeschool families forget about. Even if you only have one child, the child still needs to correctly put headings on the papers, which include the name and date. This teaches something needed in college and also if your child will take outside courses. Aside from that, it helps teach organizational skills.
Group Presentations are Essential, Even for Small Families
It is imperative that your child learn how to present reports, artwork, experiments, and inventions in front of others. Family get-togethers are a great opportunity for this because there will be a good amount of people, not just one or two. This is a vital skill, as it builds confidence and teaches presentation skills that will be needed in college and maybe even in the workforce. This also teaches planning and organizational skills because the child will have to plan out , prepare, and organize their work for presentation. Oral skills will also be exercised here.
School-Like Organization Helps With College Prep
Organize your homeschool similar to that of a traditional school. Of course, you can have your own design and expression, but have a special spot for the teacher and a special spot for the students. There should be a spot for finished assignments to be graded, as well as a spot for graded assignments to be picked up. Each student should have his or her own materials to work with. Certain things, like crayons and glue, can be shared, but notebooks, writing journals, binders, and other more personal items should not be shared. Students should have a certain place for everything used in class.
Keep an "Extra-Work" Bin Handy
Keep a basket or bin with various extra worksheets for those times when a child is ahead in work, but you are not ready to move onto the next subject. Oftentimes one child finishes earlier than another, but the other child needs your help and the next subject needs explanation before the child who is ahead can begin. It is times like these when the extra work bin will come in handy. Other times you will have a child who enjoys schoolwork and just wants to do more, even after school has ended for the day. Either way, the bin is there. The bin should contain fun worksheets (coloring, dot to dot, mazes...) as well as actual work. Let the child decide. You'll be amazed at how often they pick the actual schoolwork over the fun pages.
Folders are Your Friend
This seems so simple, but keeping a folder for each subject just like in traditional school will not only teach organization, but prepare your children for what lies ahead. Should your children ever return to traditional school or attend college or formal courses, your children will need to learn how to organize in a setting outside the home.
Don't Forget About Gym
Sometimes gym can be forgotten in the hustle and bustle of things. Don't forget to take fitness time each day. Gym can consist of running, jogging, biking, skating, playing competitive sports, playing sports with family members, swimming, dancing, walking, exercising, and a variety of other physical activities. Just be sure to provide a mixture of activities throughout each week. Get your children up and moving.
Grocery Store Issues May Happen
Sometimes you'll want to make a grocery run in the middle of the day during a lesson break. Don't forget that people are going to ask you questions. They will mainly ask why the children aren't in school. Be prepared to answer this and don't get upset. Sometimes, they may just be nosy, but still give them the benefit of the doubt. Always answer politely. I like to say "Oh, we homeschool and we're in between classes, so we thought we'd make a quick grocery run." They may be satisfied with that and they may come back asking about socialization. If they do, you may like my usual response: "Oh, we get much more socialization than those in traditional school because of the learning flexibility and variety of classes and activities available." That usually works or it just makes them even more curious. Don't be afraid to answer their questions. You have nothing to hide. You just want what's best for your particular child and there is nothing wrong with that. There are many styles of schooling. Each child’s best style will vary.
Formality Can Vary
Not every lesson has to be on paper. True, you may want to keep a record for future reference, but remember that in homeschool there is greater opportunity for hands-on learning. Use that to your child's advantage. Hands-on learning can be much more effective than learning strictly from a textbook. It is best to pair both together. A child should read something, listen to it, speak it, write it, observe it, and do it (and also taste, touch, and smell it, if applicable). This will allow for the lesson to be understood from more than one angle, thus allowing for a deeper understanding.
Schedule According to Individual Needs
A schedule should be formed for organization, but remember that homeschool allows for flexibility, so if one child is throwing a fit and the older children need you for help or a lesson, they can move on to a self-instructed lesson, like free reading, until you have taken care of the problem with the other child.
Remember that in homeschool, you should have some structure to be sure lessons are being taught and learned, but also remember that homeschool allows for some flexibility when needed.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Has your child always had a love for books? Is there a large number of homeschoolers in your area (or do you know a good amount of homeschooling families)? If you can say yes to both of these, then starting a homeschool library would be a good idea for a library lesson, as well as just to create a great sharing resource for homeschoolers.
Getting Prepared to Create Your Library
First, sort through all the books and schooling equipment (microscopes, globes, overhead projectors, digital cameras, video tapes, cassette tapes, cd's, dvd's..) in your house and find the ones that are not special to anyone, meaning it would be alright to lend them out. Shelf, organize, and store those together in an area of your house that you will feel comfortable with people walking through. First floor walk-in closets or unused utility rooms are good for this or you can even just use a designated corner of any room where you feel comfortable placing the bookshelf.
Simple Ways to Collect Items for Your Homeschool Library
Next, you will need to contact everyone you know, asking them if they have any books, materials, or equipment they are not using that they could donate to the library. Then, while you are waiting for everyone to deliver their collections, visit local church sales and garage sales and buy books with low prices. You can usually find books priced at 10 cents to 50 cents at these events. Sometimes local libraries hold sales as well. Some even sell entire bags full of books for only a couple bucks. Be sure to search for educational materials as well as just regular books to read and be sure you have all ages covered.
Completing the Set-Up of Your Library
Once your collection is complete, either make or buy book pockets for checking out books and labels to place on the books that tells people the books belong to your library. Once you have all the books labeled and pocketed, you are ready to start checking out items. Be sure you also have a poster that clearly states your policies, including late fees and times allotted for material usage.
How to Share Your Library, if Desired
Let everyone know when your library is ready. You can even have a "grand-opening" check-out party with snacks outdoors and book checkout indoors. Advertising the library and grand-opening is a great way to meet other homeschooling families, as well as create more customers for your library. This can be done by printing up fliers and placing them in local churches, libraries, homeschooling bulletin boards, and other places people with children frequent. If you post them on a library bulletin board, remember to get permission. Some libraries may consider you to be competition, so be courteous. You can also open up the library to other parents, not just homeschoolers. Have fun with your ideas. The possibilities are endless.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Are Uniforms for Homeschool a Valid Option?
As a parent who homeschools her children I get asked a variety of questions all the time. In fact, I get so many that I often write about them in case others wonder the same things that are asked of me. One question I've been asked quite a few times is whether or not homeschooled kids should wear uniforms. Based on my thoughts and experiences, here is my analysis of this homeschool topic.
Avoiding Questions About Homeschool
Before you laugh (I almost did the first time I got this question), I actually can see some situations in which a person might feel this would be a good idea. For instance, if a kid in homeschool is on a field trip, a uniform may help avoid questions. Depending on the family, this may be a viable option. I personally don't mind getting asked questions because it gives me a chance to inform others. Questions regarding choice of school methods and how they work can make for some interesting conversations. It also can help quell some of the myths associated with this schooling method.
Safety in Public Places
If field trips take places in crowded areas, uniforms might make it easier to keep track of everyone. I could see them being used on homeschooled kids in situations like this for safety purposes. However, this doesn't necessarily mean the kids need to wear traditional school uniforms. Dressing everyone in your group in a neon green outfit could do the trick. That's assuming they'd all want to wear it. That's the beauty of homeschool. Each family can decide together what is suitable and safe for everyone.
Comfort for the Students
One of the many benefits of homeschooling is allowing the kids to be comfortable. Enforcing a dress code may do the opposite of that. When not on a field trip where the environment is crowded, kids should be allowed to just be kids. The way people dress is part of individuality and some may not feel comfortable in a uniform. If your kids do, then I say go for it, if it makes them happy. But if a homeschooled child is sitting at a desk, computer, or maybe even at the library or park, there may not necessarily be any reason to wear a uniform. A comfortable kid is a happy kid and a happy kid is probably more likely to concentrate on school work than one who is uncomfortable.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
As homeschool becomes more popular and widespread, there are many questions that people ask. As a mom who has educated her children at home, as well as enrolled them in traditional school, I have been asked a fair share of questions regarding educational methods at home. With more people homeschooling, some may wonder if groups of homeschoolers should buy school buildings together. In fact, when a group of readers were asked for back to school concerns, theBarefoot asked me this very question. So, why don't homeschool parents form a school together? There are many reasons and answers to that seemingly simple question.
Social Interaction With the Outside World
Contrary to what some may believe, social interaction is very important to most parents of children who attend school at home. The ability for kids to interact with the outside world during the day, rather than being restricted to a building is one reason using a traditional school building may not appeal to some homeschooling families. Learning in the outside world can provide a great opportunity for children to socially interact with kids their age, as well as a variety of age groups. This type of interaction could be a great preparation for when kids graduate and get out into the "real world."
Differences in Curriculum and Learning Styles
One of the main benefits to homeschool is the ability to choose or develop a custom curriculum plan for each child, based on his or her needs. Not all homeschooled kids will be using the same curriculum. For this reason, it may be more difficult to hold school in a building in a traditional class setting. Since everyone may not be using the same plan or methods, parents and other teachers might all be talking at once. This could be a very distracting and confusing learning environment that may even hinder the educational process.
Flexible Learning Environment
Some homeschool parents choose this form of education because of the flexibility it provides. Children in a homeschool environment have the unique opportunity of being able to learn everywhere. Class does not necessarily have to be held behind four walls, sitting at a desk. Math and nutrition might be taught in a combination lesson at the local farmer's market, for instance. Of course, some learning will still be completed with paper, pencils, and books, but there is often more flexibility in a “home” learning environment. This flexibility could possibly be one reason some homeschool parents would choose not to hold school in a traditional school building.
What About Homeschool Co-Ops?
There actually are some homeschoolers who choose to learn together. This type of arrangement is often called a homeschool co-op. Usually in these arrangements, the classes are offered as a supplement to what the kids are already learning in homeschool. The classes are usually held only on certain days, still leaving room for the flexible learning environment that home school can provide. There also are homeschool co-ops in which a group of parents work together to form a teaching plan. In these type of arrangements, a parents who specializes in a certain area may have the opportunity to aid other students in that area.
Which Method is Best?
When deciding between public, private, or home school (or various homeschool options), the answer will differ for everyone. That's often why parents choose to homeschool, whether that occurs in a a school building or not. They likely have come to the conclusion that not all children have the same educational needs. What works for one child may not work for another. Education is about providing a child with the best learning opportunities possible. For the most information to be gained during learning, a child's individual needs, as well as the available options, should be taken into consideration.
Note: A special thanks to theBarefoot for asking this question. He's a freelance writer and IT expert who writes about a wide range of topics. His content subjects include politics, writing, news, relationships, and many more. Expect his work to be entertaining, informative, and engaging.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
A New Look at Socialization Skills Within a Homeschool
For so many years, choosing to educate children from home was looked at as stripping away their social interaction. However, many homeschooling families will argue with that fact, and for good reason.
How Can Homeschooled Children Make & Find Friends?
Some people might assume that because children homeschool, they will not have any friends. This is simply not true. Friends can be made from your neighborhood, an extra class, at the park, at the museum, within your own extended family, and various other avenues. A public school is not the only place one can acquire a friend.
Homeschooled children are allowed to call and play with their friends, just as a publicly or privately schooled child would. It is no different. There are birthday parties, slumber parties, shopping trips, and more - all the activities traditionally schooled friends do as well.
How is it Possible to Get Social Interaction During Homeschool?
In many homeschooling families, extra steps are taken to be sure that socialization is included, which means there is researching to be done on the parent's part for the methods and sometimes extra classes that will provide this.
This research often leads to finding solutions that focus on positive interaction with others because any good method will focus on the positive, rather than the negative. Social interaction is also given special attention, thus making socialization greatly important to a homeschooling family.
Positive Social Skills VS Negative Socialization
This special attention mentioned above often isn't given in public or private school because it is sometimes assumed that since the children are with other children all day, they are socializing well. However, this assumption shouldn't always be made. All socialization isn't positive. It can be negative as well. This is a fact looked over by many.
While some teachers do provide some great character development and social instruction in public school, which they are to be commended for, the children are often greatly influenced by each other. This comes naturally, as they desire to fit in. Also, it is simply just fun for them to relate with each other, which is certainly okay when that relating isn't negative.
During recess, the children are within sight of the teachers, but not always within earshot or in immediate reach, which can lead to some of them using inappropriate language or behaviors. The others either tell them they don't like those words or actions or they repeat them.
Now all the children that were in that general area have heard that language or seen that behavior and some will want to use it -- and they will. This, in turn, spreads the negative action to even more kids, cycling and creating a viral pattern. Pretty soon it will get to most of the children who are in the same age range.
Another reason that viral cycle happens is that once a certain number of kids are doing something, others begin to view it as okay. It becomes more accepted because they are used to seeing it and it doesn't even cross some of their minds that it might be wrong.
Perhaps if children were taught from the beginning how to interact positively, rather than negatively, some of these problems wouldn't exist later in life, which brings me back to homeschooling.
Extra Effort Can Make a Difference in the Quality of Social Skills
The main difference I’ve seen with homeschool socialization and public school socialization is the fact that in homeschool, much more effort is put into developing social skills, because of the fact that children may not be with other children all day (unless they have siblings). The fact that parents know other children aren't present -- and the effort put in to make up for that -- often makes for a child who is more likely to interact with most people in a positive way.
One more reason that positive social interaction is often more readily learned in a homeschool setting is because homeschooled children will be exposed to people of all ages throughout the day. This makes for a much more diverse learning experience.
Importance of Mixed-Age Grouping for Social Skills
Even better, when there is more than one child in the family, working together is often a huge part of the schooling process, even in siblings that range in age. Some homeschooling families even teach from a mixed-age perspective, leading to a great deal of cooperation with each other.
Group cooperation is an important skill needed throughout life. Many colleges actively seek out home schooled children because of their exceptional social and educational abilities.
Making the Right Social Choices for Your Child Specifically
In closing, I will say that not all public school interaction is negative and not all homeschool interaction is positive. Ultimately, it is up to the parent to examine what situations are best for each individual child. Many children make it through public school fine, as do many in homeschool.
People should come to realize that socialization isn't about whether you choose school at home or utilize public school or other options, but about whether a positive environment is created for the child. If the social environment your child is in right now is not a positive one, it is time to consider other options.
Those options may or may not be completely switching the child's schooling style. It could be just doing it in a different way or finding creative ways to incorporate positive socialization.
Whatever method you choose, be sure it is one both you and your child will feel comfortable with.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
When you choose to homeschool your child, you may be wondering if the public schools will help you with curriculum. Can they give or sell you you textbooks and study guides? If you are pulling them out of the public school, will they give you the books and learning materials where your child left off? Will public schools provide homeschoolers with a curriculum?
Will public schools give you a curriculum?
It depends on the rules in your area, as well as each situation. If you have registered as the homeschool teacher, most states do not allow the public schools to administer tests or curriculum to your students. They can only do this if the students are enrolled with them. Some public schools offer homeschooling programs, in which they provide the materials. However, in this case, you are not the one who makes the final rules and your children will still be technically in the public school program. If you prefer it that way, then go ahead and register in this type of program. But if you'd rather be responsible for all aspects of your child's education, you will need to seek the curriculum elsewhere or create it yourself.
Should the public schools give your child curriculum if you homeschool?
No. Unless your child is registered in a program with the public schools, they should not be involved in the educational aspects of your homeschool. Laws change all the time, so keep up to date with your local laws on homeschool. However, in most cases, public schools cannot and should not be distributing you any learning materials unless your children are registered as their students.
Why wouldn't I want to accept curriculum from the public schools?
t's not really a matter of whether you have the desire to accept the materials. But as the homeschool teacher, it is also your responsibility to abide by the law. By allowing teaching from someone not authorized as the homeschool teacher, you could be getting yourself and the school into trouble. If you would prefer they provide the curriculum, you need to either enroll your child in the public schools or in a home-based program with them. This ensures that you and the school are both abiding by the appropriate laws regarding the education. If you would like more control over your child's education, you need to take charge of the curriculum yourself.
Why won't the public schools give me the unused materials where my child left off?
In some states, it is actually against the rules for them to help you, unless you are registered in a homeschooling program through the public schools. As the parent and homeschool teacher, all the responsibility is on you, unless your child is enrolled in a program that relieves that responsibility. The decision to homeschool is not one that should be taken lightly. By choosing to homeschool your children, you are choosing the responsibility of anything involved in their education. As such, you must make a decision on curriculum and many other things. In homeschool, no one does that for you - or anything else for that matter. That's right. It's all up to you and the public schools will likely not help much or at all.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Have you been busy at homeschooling, but the schedule or plan you are using just isn't providing the results you want or need? Maybe your children's needs have changed or you are finding it hard to stick to your plan. If your homeschool day doesn't go the way you'd like it to, you'll need to change your schedule or plan. Some people don't have a schedule, such as unschoolers. That's fine, too, but there will still generally be some sort of plan. When all else fails, change it.
Look For Flaws
Take a look at the way you are doing things now. Figure out which things are not working as planned or needed. Write down all of those things so they can be re-planned later. Think about why each item is not going as you thought it would. Write down those reasons and think about what can be done to reverse the outcome.
What's Going Well?
Check your schedule or plan to see which things are going well. Even in a failed plan, there will be some things that do go well. Take note of these things by making a list. Go over them and think about what is making them work. Write down those things for hints on how to reverse the results of other parts of the plan that don't go right.
Are You Trying To Do Too Much?
When examining your plan, you may find you are simply trying to squeeze too much into each day. Try breaking up elective courses or extra learning into increments of less time or alternating days between them. It's fine to have plenty of electives and extra learning mixed in with what's required. But it's not okay to overwhelm the kids with too much work. Doing this might actually decrease what is learned. Find a balance that allows the kids to expand their horizons without pressuring them.
Is Learning Time Too Short?
On the other hand, if your school day is short and your child does not seem to be processing things correctly, you may need to add more time. A child who is struggling to learn may need more time to do lessons than one who is not. Also, each child is different. Some kids will learn a great deal in a short time. Yet others may need an entire day of school-related work. Examine your children individually to determine the appropriate amount of time for learning.
Remember that a Failed Plan Does Not Make You a Failure
Remember that just because you need to make some adjustments to your plan does not mean you have failed as a parent and home school teacher. Not every plan is going to be perfect and the same would be true regardless of whether your child is in home school or traditional school. Each child is different. Part of the blessing that comes with home school is that you can change the plan.
This can occur as often as needed to custom fit your child until you get the right one. Sometimes even the right one will change as time goes on and your child's needs change. The fact that you have noticed it needs adjusting does not make you a failure or symbolize that your child shouldn't be homeschooled. It actually is a sign that you are a good parent and home school teacher.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Benefits and Common Questions About Multi-Age Learning
When considering homeschool methods, parents and homeschool teachers may wonder about mixed-age grouping. This may especially be true in households that contain more than one child. Will catering the lessons to multiple age groups at the same time benefit your homeschool? What is mixed-age grouping exactly and what are the benefits?
What is Mixed Age Grouping or Multi-age Learning?
Mixed age grouping is when children of varied age groups are taught in the same classroom setting. It is also sometimes referred to as multi-age learning. Sometimes the children are taught the same lessons, sometimes not. But in mixed age grouping, regardless of age, they are all learning in the same vicinity, instead of being grouped by age or grade level.
Benefits of Mixed Age Grouping
Since courses will focus on varied levels, the children will receive education in a more rounded way. For instance, if the older children are learning about a particular Native American tribe and their lifestyle, the younger kids may be dressing up like them or drawing related pictures. If all of the kids witness and even participate in the various aspects, there could be a greater understanding of each lesson. Other benefits include constant review for the older kids as the younger kids learn alongside them. That also goes in the opposite direction with a head start for the younger children as they observe what's going on with the older kids.
What About Peer Interaction and Social Skills?
Some believe that homeschooled children will receive inferior social skills, due to lack of peer interaction. However, recent studies counter that belief. In fact, children in a homeschool setting, particularly one where mixed-age grouping is involved may receive more rounded social skills. Because homeschooled kids are out in the real world interacting with people of various ages all day long, they learn how to socialize with everyone, not just their peer group. Children educated in a mixed-age setting experience that advantage even more because they are with varied ages all day long. Yes, children can benefit from being around kids their age, but there are plenty of opportunities to do so - and not all of them are during school time.
How Do Kids Advance in a Mixed Age Setting?
Just like children in any other school setting, success is measured. Depending on other methods being used, the grading system could be traditional or not. Some parents may go with unschooling and some may go with a more traditional curriculum format. When tracking the scores, the grading system itself is not as important as creating a transcript that accurately reflects what the child has learned and assigns credits accordingly.
Can Other Homeschool Methods Be Combined With Mixed Age Grouping?
Yes. In fact, mixed-age grouping allows for a great deal of flexibility. It can be used in unschooling, along with the Montessori method, and in children of all ages, of course. There are many methods that can be adjusted to fit a multi-age model. Some will of course be better suited to this model than others.
Does Multi-Age Grouping Need to be Done with Every Lesson?
It is completely up to the parent or homeschool teacher whether every lesson should be tailored to multiple age groups or just some. It can be something that goes along with the whole curriculum plan or it can be used once in a while for certain lessons. For instance, a group story may be read together. But some parents and teachers may prefer math lessons to be done on a solo basis. Yet others would find a way to teach the math lesson to all applicable age groups.
Is Multi-age Grouping Right for My Homeschool?
Deciding whether to use mixed-age grouping in your homeschool could depend on many factors. The first factor is more obvious. Do you have more than one child and are they of varying ages? If the answer is no, you may actually need to search for a homeschool co-op that practices multi-age learning. Will you be comfortable coming up with plans for each age group that coincide with each other. Mixed-age teaching may require more planning and detail from the instructor, which often is one or more of the child's parents. Is there a way to tailor the mixed grouping to fit the way in which you have determined your child needs to be educated? All of these questions and more are things you should consider when deciding whether or not to integrate mixed-age grouping in your homeschool lessons.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Q & A on Discussing the Unschooling Homeschool Method with Kids
Sometimes when switching to unschooling from a more traditional homeschooling method, your kids will have some questions. Here's some common questions kids have when faced with this new form of learning. The questions are accompanied by answers that may help them better understand what unschooling is all about.
Yay! Does That Mean I Don't Have to Learn Anymore?
No. Unschooling does not mean you won't be learning. It means that you will learn based on your strengths, weaknesses, and interests, rather than learning through a set curriculum. It can also mean you will learn through hands-on experience and play.
Can I Play All Day?
Well, you will be playing but you also will be learning. You can learn through play if learning is going on. It's most likely going to be more fun than learning in a more traditional way. Sometimes playing will help you learn your lessons and that's perfectly fine if it works for you.
Are we Still Going to Use Textbooks?
Unschooling doesn't necessarily mean textbooks and other materials won't be used. Just like any other teaching method, some unschoolers use textbooks and some may use other materials to teach with. When and how they are used will align better with the way each child learns and their individual readiness. So, you might use textbooks and you might not. Sometimes other books or other learning materials work best.
Do I Have to Sit at a Desk All Day?
No! You can if you learn well that way. But you can also do other things if they help you learn. Unschooling is about doing whatever works best for each kid. If blocks help you learn how to count, you can use them. If visiting a veterinary clinic helps you learn about an animal, you might get the chance to do that. But if reading a book at your desk helps you more, you can do that instead.
Do I Have to Learn All Subjects?
Yes. You still need to learn all subjects. But the order you do it in and how you do it might be different than what we did before. If you are enjoying a particular lesson, we might spend more time on that if you want to. If you aren't in the right frame of mind for another lesson, we might move on to the next and come back to it later when you are ready.
Will I Still have Grade Levels Like All My Friends?
Yes. You still will have grade levels. However, the order that you do things in might be different than what they do. You will still graduate at the same time if you earn your way there - just like any other type of learning. Unschooling is just a way to make learning more fun for you and allow you to focus on things you are most interested in to help you succeed in life.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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