I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to homeschooling. Sure, having some basic tools can be very helpful! Like a microscope, library card, internet access, etc. But what else is important to have when homeschooling? Here are some things I’ve come up with based on my own homeschooling journey.
The biggest most helpful thing to have would be -hands down- patience! Patience with yourself more than anything else. There are good days and there are bad days. There are days when everything just falls into place and you’ve managed to accomplish everything you wanted to get done. And there are days that just don’t quite work out the way you dreamed it would. Have patience. Seriously, the world will not come to an end if things don’t go quite as planned. In fact, things rarely go as planned and that, dear readers, is what I love most about homeschooling! Go with the flow. Don’t worry if everything on your list didn’t get checked for that day. Once you find your rhythm, your groove, you’ll notice things will be easier. And to get there, you need patience. :)
Keep realistic expectations. Sure you’d like your child to be ahead but do you really need that kind of stress of rushing to get there? Or would you like to simply cultivate your child’s love for learning and see them blossom naturally over time?
We found ourselves quite ahead in one subject and I went with it. Followed the pace of my child. Now, we’ve found ourselves on a plateau in said subject because it’s getting more challenging and I find that going at her pace is making the process of learning said subject far more pleasant. There’s no “hurry! you need to get this done by x date!” The whole experience of schooling this subject is more relaxed and my child is more open to learning this challenging subject.
Routine. I’m not sure if this is for everyone, but for us routine is KEY to getting it done. I used to tell my oldest that she could pretty much get her independent work done whatever time of the day that she wanted. As long as it got done before bedtime I would be happy. Well, allowing her to do it whenever ended up causing tears and frustration when she forgot to do her work and needed to complete twice the work the next day. Now, we have a routine in place. We get up in the morning, get our morning chores done and out of the way, grab a bite to eat, and head straight to our desk to get our assigned work done for the day. Once it’s all done -and it’s usually done before lunch!- she is free to play and do whatever she pleases! No more “woops! I forgot!” No more tears, no more stress! We have time to head out the door to co-op, to a field trip, to get together with friends for a playdate, etc.
Routine has really changed the when we do things and for the better. Some mornings I find that she has gotten up before everyone and has completed her independent work without prompting from anyone! She has come to realize that business before pleasure really is a good idea and a great life lesson.
If it doesn’t work -drop it! Yes, really. Yes, I know you spent a lot of money. Yes, I know you are not made of money. Nor am I! This is why I spent hours and hours, days and days, researching curriculum before spending a penny. And sometimes I end up absolutely loving a curriculum, ordering it for my child, and she absolutely hates it and it just isn’t working! Arrrgh! So yes, I too have found myself in this boat. The frustration I feel and the frustration my child feels -well, you could hear it miles away, I’m sure!
For us, homeschooling is the opportunity to find what works and if it doesn’t find something else. Not everyone learns the same way. Sometimes pace must be adjusted and sometimes curriculums need to be changed. Being given the opportunity to find the right materials for my children, is one of the biggest and best reasons that we chose to homeschool. So I feel your pain if it comes down to this. I really and truly do, but you will find your child will not learn if it isn’t working and all you’re doing is causing more stress (for yourself and your child!) and a growing resentment towards whichever subject you are adamant at seeing through with the wrong-fit curriculum.
On that vein, have confidence in yourself. Confidence is key to homeschooling. If you feel like you can’t, I bet you your child is seeing it and in turn will likely feel like s/he can’t do it either. Believe in yourself. If you have chosen this path for your family, then you can do it. There is literally an ocean-full of curriculum choices, plethora of information at your fingertip via the Internet. There is so so very much out there on every subject under the sun!
I kid you not when I say I flunked algebra. There, I said it. The whole world wide web now knows. I failed algebra. It was the only subject I absolutely feared teaching. Well, because, how could I possibly teach a subject I did not get!? Well, in my case, I am re-learning it right alongside my daughter by finding an amazing company that helps teach the subject. There are online classes, there are message boards with tons of others like you out there that could provide information, assistance, curriculum, co-ops, etc. that could help you. Have confidence in yourself. It is possible to homeschool even though you are not a professor in all the subjects. You do not need to be a professor or have a PHD or anything like that! You, yes you dear reader, a wonderful individual who wants what is best for their child, can accomplish this great and wonderful feat of educating your children. Have confidence. You have all the tools you need.
I posted a review over at the SecularHomeschool.com for ALEKS math a while ago. I thought I would post it here, too, on my blog along with an update since more time has past since I posted my initial review.
Here’s the review:
Member Ranking – Extremely Positive
We’ve been using it for two years now (Grade level 3 and 4 with QuickTables) and will be continuing on to Grade level 5 in a few short weeks.
This is an amazing program that has helped my daughter master her multiplication through its QuickTables.
This program can be used independently by the child but you can choose to sit with your child (as I’ve been doing!) and work with them. We sit together and choose a topic or two to do a day. We hit explain several times till I feel my child gets it, then she enters the answer all on her own the next few times till the program says she has mastered it and can move on.
What we really love about ALEKS is how all the topics in the grade are divided into a pie-chart. The child can choose what they’d like to learn that day! More pieces open in each pie when they’ve completed a prerequisite piece. It’s really fun seeing how much of the pie is complete each day as she progresses!
The program is also intuitive enough to know when to have the child take an assessement. If the child needs to relearn a topic, it simply re-opens the piece in the pie and she can re-learn it when she wants. Your child won’t move forward till s/he knows it well!
You can also assign worksheets and quizzes from the parental login and that has been a great asset to have!
We’ve had such amazing results and are really pleased with ALEKS math for our child!
- QuickTable mastery of Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division
- Reviews done automatically everyday on previous days topics to ensure she has retained and understood the material learned.
- Intuitive Assessment
- Quizzes you can assign
- Worksheet printables
- Under the master login, you can view progress reports and progress reports also get emailed to you to keep you updated.
We’re actually currently doing Middle School – Grade 6 with ALEKS. So this makes it our fourth year with ALEKS and we still absolutely love using ALEKS for math. Although this is geared towards the child to independently learn and do the work, I opt to still sit with her. I am, essentially, re-learning algebra! See? Never too old to learn! And that is what I keep telling my kid. I didn’t quite get it when I learned it all the first time around so here I am re-learning it. And I am actually getting it!! So I am indeed rather proud of myself :)
But getting back to my daughter -she is quite capable of doing this alone at this age, but I also like that we work together. We just keep hitting “explain” until she gets it and then does all the next examples on her own till the program says she has mastered it. This method works great for us!
I definitely plan on sticking with ALEKS for the time being and truly recommend it to both young and old (like me! ;) ) Can’t argue with results!
You’re never too old to learn about fire safety!
We (my ten year old and four year old twins) recently went with our homeschool group to visit a fire station.
We had a really nice turn out. I didn’t think it’d be a very long visit but I sure was wrong! The fire station staff was amazing! They really took the time to teach the kids some important fire safety tips.
What I felt was really important (and something that actually had not occurred to me!) is how scary a fireman may look to a child when all geared up and breathing through an oxygen mask. Yikes! So one of the kind fireman at the station got himself all geared up in front of the kids so that they could see he wasn’t a monster! He told the kids that if ever they found themselves in a situation where they saw a fireman come towards them, that they should not be scared and run away but to in fact come closer to him if they could.
My oldest also volunteered to demonstrate what it’s like to be immobilized so if ever a kid were to find themselves on a board being tied down, they’d know why and that the EMT or fireman present is just trying to help.
My kids, of course, much preferred getting on the big red fire truck and trying on some of the really heavy gear that firemen wear.
When we got home we talked about our own fire escape strategy. We showed them where all our smoke (and carbon monoxide) detectors are located and showed them where our fire extinguishers are located in the house. I’m sure we’ll be talking about this for some time as the kids had quite a memorable visit to the fire station!