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By Dan M.
Formal education is a system that most people will pass through at different points in their lives. The exception is a small percentage of the population who decide to take their children’s education into their own hands. Such individuals may have come to the conclusion that they are in a better position to educate their young ones and that learning at home is a safer option.
The National Home Education Research Institute found that as of 2016, 3.3% of all school-age children were being homeschooled. If your family happens to be amongst this group of people, perhaps you’re looking for tips on how to make the process easier. On the other hand, you may not have begun your homeschooling journey yet but want to know what how to go about it in case you decide to.
Whatever the case may be, there is no one-size-fits-all blueprint for homeschooling as every child’s needs are different. What you should be aiming to do is find a healthy balance between structured learning and fun. Below, you’ll find a few suggestions regarding how you can find balance in homeschooling.
Develop a Curriculum
The first step that you’re going to have to take to create the right balance in homeschooling is developing a curriculum. It is likely that one of the reasons that you desire to teach your kids from home in the first place is because you want autonomy over what they’re learning and the environment they learn in. This is understandable as the type of information you teach them and your teaching style can significantly impact their learning journey and outcome in life.
If you’ve never developed a curriculum before, begin by outlining a purpose for the curriculum so that it properly addresses your children’s needs. Answering questions like what you want them to gain and how you’ll engage them should help set your expectations. Your curriculum should have a clear timeline as well so you’re able to put a routine and structure in place.
Once you’ve got your curriculum ironed out, think about how you can tailor your lesson plans to their learning styles. If they’re visual learners, then graphs, charts, maps and diagrams should be included in your lesson plans. On the other hand, if they’re auditory learners, prioritize speaking. Kinesthetic learners should do well with physical activities so have enough of those lined up if that’s the learning style of your teen. Don’t forget that you can teach non-traditional skills in your curriculum such as playing an instrument or driving a vehicle.
Include Regular Breaks
Believe it or not, physical activity is an integral part of learning. Research has found that kids who are physically active tend to have better grades and cognitive performance. For this reason, be sure to include recess that requires physical activities in your daily schedule.
Use your imagination so that you can make physical activities both exciting and enjoyable. On some days, you could have them do an obstacle course in the backyard which will challenge them and give them a good workout. Other days, you may want to take a trip down to the local park so that they can engage with peers their age and socialize as well.
What’s most important is that they aren’t glued to a seat all day and they’re able to get up and move around. Take the time out to brainstorm ideas for physical fitness activities with them so that their voice is heard and they feel part of the decision-making process too.
Set Rules for Technology Usage
Although not all of your child’s learning is within your control, there are ways to control the information that they consume, especially when it’s digital. The internet is an integral part of modern-day society, so shutting them away from the internet completely may not be realistic if you want them to be successful in their future careers. What you can do is teach them responsible device usage instead.
One of the ways to teach them responsible technology usage is by showing them how they can use the internet for learning. Also, make use of the parental controls and privacy settings to help monitor the types of sites they’re going on. You also want to give them a degree of freedom so that there is a level of mutual trust.
Aside from browsing the ‘net, other ways that technology may need to be used for learning could be through games or online programs. Ensuring they’re technologically savvy can be achieved when you allocate particular times for use. It could be for entertainment, leisure or learning.
Create a Personalized Learning Environment
As mentioned briefly earlier on, creating a personalized learning environment goes a long way for creating balance. If there’s too much rigidity, then you may struggle to get your teens to concentrate and stay focused throughout the day. Be flexible and consider your child’s personality type at all times.
Personalizing their learning environment could also mean making sure it’s separate from your normal living space. This creates balance as they can mentally put themselves in learning mode and take their learning more seriously. Make sure the learning environment makes them feel safe too. Teaching them prepper skills and educating them about natural disasters could help them feel well-prepared and aware of what goes on in the world around them.
At some point, you may want to begin teaching them life skills such as how to invest and save money. You can then make them practice the things they’re learning by letting them earn money at home or get a part-time job. These skills may seem trivial, but they’re life skills that could impact the trajectory of their finances as they progress in life.
Homeschooling is no easy feat, but it is something that can be done successfully. The key is to find balance and establish a rhythm that works for you and your teen. Providing structured learning, a stimulating environment, and healthy restrictions should get you on the right path.