Homeschooling is a big task because, as a parent, you have to find the right balance of educating your child, introducing social situations, and tending to your own responsibilities. Whether you’ve decided to homeschool as a permanent means of education or to keep your child home from in-school learning during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s a major job and one you want to do well. Simply giving your child some worksheets isn’t enough to keep them engaged and encourage other interests outside of academic learning like diamond painting or learning to cook. Here are some ideas on how to get your kid’s attention and keep it.
Stick to a Homeschooling Schedule
Although you don’t want to be too rigid with your child’s schedule as this can put unnecessary pressure on him or her, you should give them some sense of stability. The great part about homeschooling is that you can devise a schedule that works for the whole family, but you need to be flexible.
Talk to your child and give them a sense of what time their learning will start each day and when they can expect to take breaks. The flexibility that comes with homeschooling is one of the greatest advantages. You can work on a block schedule, where you dedicate a certain number of hours each week to specific subjects, or a loop schedule, which is more fluid and includes a list of topics to cover without any particular order or rigid scheduling. You can also use a more standard schedule that mimics an in-school bell schedule.
Provide Break Times
Taking breaks from work is important for everyone — not just students. Even adults working from home or in an office need to clear time in their schedule to step away from work. It may sound counterproductive, but taking breaks has actually been proven to increase productivity because it allows your brain to mentally refocus.
Taking a break from school work doesn’t have to mean time for them to sit on the couch and melt into their favorite TV show. Breaks can include other activities that refocus the mind, such as art projects like diamond painting or outside activities like gardening.
Encourage Arts and Creativity
Unfortunately, it is pretty standard for public schools to cut funding from electives like art or music when they face budget constraints. But that doesn’t mean that these classes are not valuable to a child’s learning and development. The arts can teach children a lot about adult life – from critical thinking skills to communication.
For young children, basic art activities are vital to developing motor skills and teaching important lessons like colors and shapes. If your child is older or in their teens, creative projects can inspire their creativity and give them a great sense of accomplishment when they’ve finished a major project. These activities can be scheduled into their learning or worked on during breaks as a fun reward.
Explore Their Personal Interests
Kids are more likely to stay focused on lessons that involve things they like to do. This will take some creativity on your part as the parent, but try to find activities that can teach valuable lessons and still be fun. For example, if you’re learning measurements or fractions, try cooking something together that involves following a recipe and altering the measurements for a larger or smaller serving size. Of course, homeschooling has to include some level of traditional instruction, but encouraging your child to connect their lessons and the real world is a useful way to teach and keeps them more engaged in the curriculum.
Use Free Online Sources
With easy access to the internet, parents have thousands of great resources at the tips of their fingers. If you’ve never considered homeschooling before, learning how to devise a curriculum and plan valuable lessons for your child can be overwhelming. Many websites have created curriculum outlines, lesson plans, and other educational resources to give parents the tools they need to educate their children. Although these sites are great sources of information, it’s important not to become too reliant on rigid lesson plans as you understand better than anyone what style of teaching best suits your child.
Be sure to add in hands-on activities and make a point to take mini field trips to supplement their learning and allow them to socialize with other children. Of course, these trips may be difficult during the pandemic, but many museums and other educational institutions have added virtual learning opportunities that you can take advantage of.
Integrate Interactive Lessons
Interactive learning allows children to understand their lessons in a real-world situation, not simply listen to a lecture or fill out endless worksheets. Even journaling can be an example of interactive learning if you encourage your child to journal about something they’ve learned.
Writing is a great way for children to process a lesson and understand better when they have to explain the concept and how it relates to their own life. You can also use computer programs and in-person games to encourage interactive learning and increase their engagement levels.
Give Feedback Often
Feedback and praise are two great ways to keep motivation levels up and encourage your child to continue their educational journey. The same is true for adults. People with managers and bosses who regularly give them useful feedback and acknowledge when they’ve done a good job or put a lot of work into a project tend to have high productivity levels.
When your child is coming to a deeper understanding of a subject, give them praise. But, if they’re struggling with understanding a concept, try not to get frustrated and give meaningful feedback to help them better absorb the lesson.
Learning Can Be Fun
Unfortunately, “school” and “learning” are sometimes synonymous with “boring” for children, but it doesn’t have to be that way. When homeschooling your child, you have a lot of flexibility regarding which subjects you cover and the style of teaching you use.
Try to encourage their learning and keep them engaged with art projects like diamond painting and interactive learning. Don’t forget to ask your child for their input as well. This can help you integrate their interests into their lessons and help them look forward to them.