Homeschooling can be an incredibly fulfilling endeavor. It's a great chance to spend more time together as a family, target your child's learning to their own needs, and have more flexibility in your schedule. However, the challenge of managing your child's entire learning experience is also a massive project. If you're struggling to keep homeschooling running smoothly in your home, try following these steps to keep things moving in your home.
1. Let the kids lead
One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling for kids is that they have the opportunity to have agency over their own learning. In a traditional school environment, just about everything is decided upon for the children. What they learn, the ways in which they learn, and their daily routine are all determined for them by the school. In homeschooling, parents and children can work together to create an educational plan that's exciting and engaging for the child. Sit down and talk with them about what kind of things they'd like to learn, how they'd like to structure their day, and how they feel they learn best.
Once they feel they have at least some control over their learning experiences, you'd be surprised to find how much of a difference it makes in a child's motivation to learn and work. They might have always wanted to learn about ancient Rome or prefer to structure their day with several smaller blocks of work time rather than sitting for a longer period. Maybe they want to learn while sitting on the floor. Whatever their preferences, they'll be thrilled to have the chance to be in the driver's seat of their own learning.
2. Have a consistent schedule
With the wonderful flexibility that homeschooling has to offer, it can be tempting to be pretty lax about the daily schedule. It is important, however, to maintain a routine that allows for both you and your children to be at their most productive. While each day may look slightly different, give the day some structure. Have everyone wake up at the same time each day and begin the day's activities at the same time each morning.
Designate certain blocks of time each day for learning, and be sure to allow time for breaks, chores, extracurricular activities, and meals. You can assign certain slots of time to certain subjects, much like the daily schedule of a traditional school, or just designate the time for whatever learning is taking place that day.
3. Include plenty of exercise
When you're focusing so much on academics, it can be easy to let things like physical activity slip to the back of your mind. Remember that physical development is just as critical to a child's healthy growth as academic success. Include plenty of opportunities in your child's day to run, climb, play, or participate in sports. With the flexibility that homeschooling offers, it's easy enough to take the kids to the park for an afternoon, or you can go the extra mile to plan physical education activities. It's also a great opportunity to meet friends!
Having kids participate in youth sports, physically engaging extracurricular activities, or physically demanding educational experiences are all also great ways to include exercise into your child's daily life. It doesn't really matter how they move, as long as they're moving!
4. Take field trips
If you aren't taking the family on some homeschooling field trips, you're missing out! Getting to explore the greater world on your own schedule is one of the great joys of homeschooling. Field trips are a great educational opportunity for kids to do some hands-on experiential learning about some of their favorite topics.
Great field trips might include some popular kids' destinations, like zoos, aquariums, and museums, but those are far from your only options! Finding guest speakers on educational topics at universities, bookstores, or museums can be a great way to diversify the learning for your kids. Going to see educational films, touring factories, or attending special local events are also fantastic learning opportunities to get a chance to experience something new while getting involved in the community.
5. Have some downtime
With so many things you want to get done, it's important to also remember that downtime and relaxation are necessary. If you and your kids are both going without stopping from the moment you wake up, both of you will be burned out and frustrated before too long. Include some time in the day where everyone can have a chance to rest. Maybe that's a special time in the afternoon for quiet reading and relaxation, or some time before dinner that's considered "free time" for the whole household without any scheduled activities.
Having time to relax and rest will make sure that the whole family is more capable of focusing during work times. Being overworked and burned out will only make things frustrating between everyone involved - give each other space, spend some time alone, and then come back refreshed and ready to get to work!
6. Get creative
It's time to bring out your creativity! Homeschooling is an incredible opportunity for both you and your kids to express yourself and do something a little outside the norm. If you have some natural artists in the house, make sure to get materials for their art and make time in the day for them to spend creating. Consider putting a priority on the creativity of kids who may fall elsewhere. If your child isn't as fond of painting or drawing but loves to build elaborate engineering creations, make sure they have time to spend on that each day as a part of their learning.
Working the creative muscles isn't just fun or fluff - it's an important part of development for young children. It's also a great way to help them get hands-on with their own learning and can be integrated into other subjects to create a multidimensional curriculum. Simply learning about math or reading can only touch a small part of the brain! Engaging in creative pursuits (while learning math or reading) stretches the brain in unexpected ways!
7. Have a learning space
While many may enjoy the casual nature of doing homeschooling work at the dining room table or on the living room couch, it can also hamper a child's focus and attention span while they're working. Help them focus - and help keep your kitchen table clean! - by making a designated learning space inside your home. The exact nature of how this room looks is very flexible, but the important part is that its exclusive use is for learning. This will help your children associate the space with learning and focus, and help them keep on track.
The motivations for homeschooling are varied, and so are the layouts for the learning zones. You might want to design your learning space to look much like a traditional classroom, with desks and a whiteboard. You could also make a more flexible space, with comfortable flexible seating, portable desks, and laptop computers. However works best for you and your family is perfectly appropriate, so long as it is treated as a learning space for the whole family.
Over to you
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