Making the decision to teach children at home can be a stressful process. There are several different reasons why a parent decides to go against the traditional school setting, and each one is important to the family. What works for one family doesn't always work for another, forcing them to look into other methods. Coming up with a game plan helps ease the nervousness a parent may feel while helping the school sessions run more smoothly.
Priorities need to be assessed
Homeschooling may seem like an easy solution when things aren't going well in the school the child is attending. However, it takes dedication, persistence, creativity and time. It should never be a sudden decision without considering the various aspects. Before making a decision, the parent needs to consider the resources they have available. They need to look at all the reasons why they want to teach their children and make some realistic goals they would like to accomplish.
Each state has it's own laws regarding homeschooling. Some simply require a parent to register the child one time and don't require any other documentation. Other states require the child to participate in state testing and the child has to meet with a teacher periodically to ensure they are learning what they are required to know. There are many variations in between, and a parent needs to know what is required before beginning the process of home educating.
Depending on the methods used, homeschooling a child can be quite expensive, or not. Determine how much money can be committed to curriculum and supplies. There are numerous sites online that allow a parent to print material for the child to use or that offer games and interactive learning tools to help a child learn particular subjects. The only costs involved are printer ink and paper and access to the Internet. The downside to this method is that the parent makes their own curriculum, which requires a lot of research and time.
Boxed curriculum can be purchased that have all the subjects the child needs to learn. This is helpful to the beginner who may be uncertain of what to teach. Research should be conducted to choose the best fit for the child, as there are numerous companies that make curriculum for homeschoolers. It's best to join some homeschooling groups and get feedback from parents who have been teaching for awhile, before deciding on one. These can be expensive when bought directly from the companies, but used material can be purchased online for discounted prices.
Organize space and materials
After a budget has been set up, it's fun to organize a space designated for school in the home. This can simply be a place on a table where all books or supplies will be kept, if the available space is small. If room allows, making a classroom where the child has his own desk, a book shelf for his school books and reference books and a computer helps give him his own area to concentrate while he learns. Keeping the materials in one place makes transitioning between subjects much quicker and easier.
Setting up work for a week at a time and documenting it helps the school day to run more smoothly. Less time will be spent each day gathering material so that the child can begin working without delays. Keeping a file cabinet for school documents, immunization records, tests or completed work keeps everything in one place where it's easy to find.
It is helpful to really watch the child to understand how she learns. Everyone learns differently and some methods are easier for some than for others. Knowing how the child learns helps the parent decide on curriculum to aide in retention of the material. Knowing that a child understands and retains information better through visual tools rather than on paper can help the parent budget the finances for school material. Instead of buying workbooks, money could be redirected towards videos that may make the Revolutionary War more real to the child, or any other aspect of school work.
Flexible schedules keep it fun
While it's important to establish a schedule that meets the needs of everyone involved, it's important to remain flexible. There will be days where neither the parent or the child is in a productive mood. On days such as these, skip the normal schedule and find other educational activities. Go on a field trip to the zoo or a science museum. Watch some documentaries about a subject the child showed interest in. Play board games that incorporate trivia, spelling or math. Bake some cookies and discuss measurements or how the ingredients interact to produce the desired effect.
Schooling doesn't have to take place in a traditional way. We learn about life every minute of the day, if only we open ourselves up to the opportunities. Showing children that learning can take place anywhere or in any way can help them learn to love learning, helping them as they grow and become adults.