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People associate the holiday season with good cheer. It also ushers in a hectic pace. Everyone treats each other with goodwill as they rush frantically to buy gifts, prepare for guests, travel, and holiday feasts. You, as a homeschooler, are no different. But you might also mark this time as the school year’s halfway point, or if you are a year-round homeschooler, you might even be reaching the end of your school year.
The holiday break period is the perfect opportunity to assess your homeschooling experience. If you are taking some time off from your regular homeschool schedule, why not take advantage and sit down with your children and discuss their progress and the curriculum they’re using. You may find that even though they are reaching their milestones, they’re not happy or as satisfied with some aspects of homeschooling as they should be. After all, children grow and change and so will your homeschooling practices.
With that in mind, use these tips for improving your family’s homeschooling experience.
Let Your Children Voice Their Opinions
Children appreciate a say in their daily homeschooling ritual. Older children especially want their voices heard, but even young children feel empowered, and happy, that their parents place value on their opinions. The subject of how your kids feel about their homeschool experience deserves it’s own official family meeting. But prior to the meeting, jot down some talking points that you’re interested in covering. Once you start the meeting with these points, allow your children a chance to speak.
Here are some talking points you can use — but each homeschool has their own dynamic:
- Scheduling adjustments — do your kids feel rushed or even bored? is morning, afternoon, or evening their best time for learning?
- Activities — are there too many? not enough?
- Goals — do you have specified benchmarks you want to see your kids complete by end of year? do your kids?
- Curriculum — how do your kids feel about the program(s) you are using so far?
Parents are sometimes surprised at the things they learn when their homeschooled children speak up. As one veteran homeschooler noted: “If you act on your children’s input and change your curriculum or schedule, it not only makes them feel good, it gives them a new sense of responsibility. After all, you made the changes because they made the suggestions.”
Your talking points may lead to new priorities when it comes to scheduling. Your children may love their homeschool schedule — or they may feel frustrated by the structure. Don’t forget, homeschooling offers you flexibility. Start later in the morning, homeschool more at night, or move some teaching outside the home. Mix it up. Get creative, especially if you notice your days have been feeling stale. Bring back the excitement.
Some homeschoolers change things up on purpose. It keeps their children alert. Of course, not all children want change. Some thrive on stability. That’s fine. As noted earlier, every homeschool has it’s own dynamic and every child has their own personality. You know your children, so make the adjustment that best fit their needs and learning styles.
Introducing new subjects and activities also alters the rhythm of the day and injects more excitement. Start the day with cooking classes. Each week have the children create a menu and then cook the meal the next week after you shop for the ingredients. Shopping also teaches them financial lessons, such as: looking for sale items, using cash or credit, and price comparison. There are no rules — except the ones you create.
Is it Time for a Web-based Curriculum?
After you sit down with your children and discuss your homeschooling progress, you may feel like it’s time for a curriculum change. Or maybe you’ve realized it for some time now.. It doesn’t matter, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up over it. The needs of homeschoolers are constantly evolving, and your curriculum will usually need to adapt along with them.
These are exciting times we live in, though. Cars drive themselves now, and some web-based curriculum programs interact with children! But how cool is that? Your child can learn at his or her own pace, enjoy independent learning, and get entertained by educational tools that act like video games! Who would’ve guessed learning could be so darn fun? There’s no better way to shake up homeschool boredom than with animated lessons and multimedia activities.
And web-based curricula can be a welcome change for parents, too. Some offer built in lesson plans and generate reports, including daily progress reports, transcripts and homeschooling portfolios. They even automatically grade most work — no more staying up at night grading papers!
You’ve got a lot to think about, especially with the holidays approaching. But now that your homeschooling year is drawing to a close, or the halfway mark, remember that homeschooling practices change, just as your children change from year to year. Keep pace with these tips and enjoy the holidays.