Most homeschooling families meticulously prepare for their children’s education, with some even taking years to research and equip themselves for the role of teacher. But the New Normal has forced all parents to adjust to homeschooling and distance learning with little to no preparation. For many, it was nerve-wracking and stressful.
For my family, we’re fortunate that we started homeschooling when our first-born arrived in 2011, so there was no transition period since our kids did not join a traditional, brick and mortar school to begin with. Home education has already become an extension of our parenting and lifestyle.
Home education is very different from the school system we were raised with, and it should be approached differently as well. Here are a few tips I can share with you on how you can make home education work for you and your family. Let us focus on the three Ss of home education: Schedule, Support, and Simplify.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” This is very true even for homeschooling.
When Vito was still an only child and student, it was easier because we based our schedule and activities around just one child. But as our family grew, it got chaotic. When I gave birth to our third child while raising a toddler and teaching a grade schooler Vito, we took a hiatus for two months because I just couldn’t cope with all the lessons. Since then, planning ahead has helped us manage better.
Studies have shown that routines help young children cope with daily activities because it gives them a sense of security and stability. Schedules have facilitated not only our grade schooler’s learning exercises, but also helped the two younger children understand the differences between play and lesson time.
Schedule your activities and lesson based on your family dynamics. Consider the sleeping patterns of the kids, our work (especially that most of us are working virtually), family events, chores, and even play time.
Include children in the planning. Just like adults, children have different body clocks as to when they are most productive. It also demonstrates respect of their time, cultivates a sense of accountability, and nurtures self-motivation.
It has always worked for us to let the kids adjust their schedules. If they ask to do their worksheets the next day instead this afternoon, we allow them provided that they are able to complete all tasks of the week. Plan but be flexible.
One of the easiest ways we can help our children’s studies is to help them with their workload.
- Establish a flexible learning space. Some students prefer a designated study area at home. Others prefer to work on the floor, couch, or dining table. By identifying their preferred learning space, they become more engaged and more productive.
- Allow brain breaks. Generally speaking, younger children need more breaks, but anyone would benefit from frequent breaks throughout the day as it improves attention span (add source)
- Make SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound) learning goals and communicate effectively to students. Students may resort to cramming when they forget the requirements. To avoid this, help them plan what they need to accomplish for the week, month, and quarter. A major issue of students is that they may resort to cramming. Create a weekly or monthly goal chart that they need to complete. An alternative is an online calendar or checklist that both parents and child can access and review every day.
- Allow your kids to struggle. It is easier for parents to just take over and do our children’s module. But, allow them to discover and learn in the process. Let us encourage kids to engage in productive struggle and praise them for their persistence. Doing so will help them develop resilience and be creative in solving their own problems.
A particular misconception about learning is that a student’s primary role is to retain information. However, retention is just the first step to learning. Effective learning involves being able to retain the facts, define it using your own words, and apply it. In traditional classrooms, learning is reinforced through different multi-sensory activities such as quizzes, group works, drawing etc. At home, we can take advantage of opportunities to engage our children in active learning through discussion, writing, creating works of arts, and even chores!
We enjoy consolidating at least two lessons in one activity. Just by asking your child to help bake in the kitchen, you are teaching and reinforcing Math, Science, Health, and HELE concepts. Don’t forget the importance of play!
Likewise, we should define the scope of learning. By setting the goals for the school year, we can anticipate the activities that can support our kids. Be wary of the fear of missing out while comparing ourselves with what other families are doing. All families are unique, and quantity does not always equate to quality.
We parents are in the best position to influence our children, not just their behavior but their studying habits. Let us take home education as an opportune time to foster our children’s love for continuous learning. Allow ourselves to trust that we are more than capable of facilitating this journey.
About The Writer
Kat is a full-time mom to her three kids that she homeschools with her husband. Prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom, Kat was an Instructional Designer and Training Facilitator at a business process outsourcing firm. She currently enjoys sharing her mom life and homeschool journey through her blog petitemomma.com and their YouTube channel, Homeschooling V and Z. In 2019, with mommy blogger friends Kat co-wrote an e-book entitled, "Nanay Nanay Paano Maging Ina?" and co-founded a support group for Filipino homemakers. In her spare time, she helps maintain the social media accounts of a social enterprise that helps children with cancer.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.