Let’s face it, most homeschooling parents were intimidated and maybe even a little terrified before their first homeschool year. I was a wreck when I started, but after losing sleep and second guessing myself at every turn, I finally found a rhythm. As time went on though, I felt that rhythm became a detriment—my rhythm turned into a rut!
My teaching became stale, because I didn’t grow with my kids. What I mean is, as they were growing older, more mature, and becoming different learners, I stayed the same. I didn’t improvise or alter my style. That quickly changed when I noticed that my teaching style negatively impacted my children’s learning. When I was telling a homeschooling friend about this, she told me straight up: “You need to change as a teacher.”
Deep down, I had already come to that conclusion but hearing it from another person confirmed it. So, I started talking with other homeschoolers who had this same experience and I found some great tips on becoming a better teacher. I’ll share them with you.
Adjust Your Teaching Style
I kept my teaching style the same over the years. I was very hands on and alert to every little thing that my children were doing during the day—I thought it was my job. Some homeschoolers call it “hovering” over their children but I think that’s a polite term for my old style. I remember one day telling my son that he was doing something “completely wrong” and he should do it this way—in other words, my way. I realized that I needed to step back and let him embrace his own learning style. I am a textbook learner, but my son is a visual, hands-on learner and my constant interruptions were impeding his educational experience.
Once I stepped back, my kids embraced independent learning. They would turn on their computers, log in to the online curriculum we use, and start their day. I gave them cues, reminded them of their schedule occasionally, and provided help when they needed it. This not only eased the tension between us, it reduced my stress level.
If at all possible, attend a few conventions and sign up for the expert speakers at the event. Many are homeschool teachers, leaders in their fields, and motivational professionals among other things. They will educate you on different techniques, provide inspiration and information that you may find surprising and enlightening. If you are in a co-op or homeschool group, float the idea of inviting a speaker to attend a meeting. Who knows, maybe there are other homeschool parents who are also struggling.
Talk with Other Homeschoolers
Like I said in the beginning, I spoke with another homeschooler and her suggestion made a positive impact on my teaching and homeschooling routine. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a new homeschooler or a veteran. You’ll find that almost all homeschoolers are great listeners who are happy to lend a helping hand. Start a conversation at your homeschooling group, or have a luncheon with a few homeschoolers and bring up the subject. Don’t be embarrassed, everyone needs assistance.
Read Books and Website Material
You’ll get some fine advice from other homeschoolers who have improved their teaching techniques through various methods just by reading. For example, June, a homeschooler of two children says, “I was introduced to the book “Homeschooling and Loving It” by a friend. I learned so much about not only the nuts and bolts of teaching, but I also learned things about myself and the beauty that is teaching my children. In the introduction, the author, Rebecca Kochenderfer really caught my attention with these words”:
“You are a natural teacher. Everyday you are teaching your children by example. This means you need to be curious and interested in life if you want them to be. When you are passionate about learning and they see that you are still learning, they stay curious and inspired. This is actually one of the best parts of homeschooling—while your children are exploring their passions and developing their special talents, you get to explore and develop yours too.”
Reading that one paragraph inspired June and gave her a different perspective on teaching. She now understands that homeschooling parents are not only helping their children to learn and experience the world and its vast mysteries, they are learning, too! I can see why that would be such a revelation.
I personally scour the web and find many helpful articles, and also rely on my curriculum provider for advice. They have helpful web pages and a parent forum where homeschoolers like me ask questions and look for different tips on teaching and learning. The information is readily available, just look it up and start improving your teaching techniques.
So, if you find that your daily rhythm has turned into a rut, or if it’s just time for a change, think about tweaking your teaching style. It helped me out and I know that other homeschoolers have also benefited from adjusting their teaching methods and styles. So don’t be afraid to give it a try—your children will thank you!
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