*This is our first guest post at Los Gringos Locos and it’s a good one! Thanks so much Corinne!
Every homeschooling family starts out optimistic. After all, they’ve got so much evidence to back their choice. Homeschooled children consistently outperform their peers who go to regular school. And not just in academics. Kids who are homeschooled reportedly perform better in tests of communication, daily living, maturity and even socialization. However, nowhere does it say that homeschooling is easy. It will take trial and error to figure out what works best for your own family and mistakes are inevitable. When the chores are piling up and the kids are acting out and you haven’t attempted math in a week, it’s natural to wonder whether you’re doing the right thing.
Homeschooling may not be a walk in the park, but it doesn’t have to be a trek through the Himalayas either. You can make your undertaking a lot easier and even have fun while you’re at it, as long as you follow a few basic rules. Here’s how you can make homeschooling fun and effective for your family.[bctt tweet=”Seven ideas to make #homeschooling fun and effective! #ihsnet”]
1. Make the internet your best friend.
The internet makes a homeschooling parent’s life a lot easier. Whether you’re trying to research a curriculum, finding out more about your child’s learning style, looking for good educational resources, or finding fun learning games, the internet will give you a wealth of useful information to help you make your decision. Do your research and be informed about the choices you make. You can also find incredible teaching tools and websites that will offer you and your kids new and exciting ways to approach learning.
2. Have a game plan and follow it.
Too much choice can also be a bad thing. Resist the temptation to jump from one curriculum to the next or one schooling style to the next based on your research or the advice of other homeschooling families. Make a plan – you’re bound to fail without one – and give it the old college try before you decide whether or not it’s working. On the other hand…
3. Don’t put your game plan above all else.
There’s a difference between following your plan and sticking to it at all costs. Sometimes you really need to make changes. The math curriculum that turned your eldest into a math geek may just not work with your second child. Be open to the fact that your choices could be wrong and understand when it’s time to make a change or two. This holds true not just for the bigger choices but also the daily ones. If your daughter is so interested in her history lesson that it’s taking up the entire day, it’s okay! You can always catch up with the skipped lessons later in the week.
4. Let the kids follow their interests.
The idea of homeschooling is not to bring school home. One of the biggest advantages of homeschooling is that you have flexibility – make good use of it. Avoid getting obsessed with how many worksheets your children are completing or whether they’re working on every subject every day. Pay attention to the interests of your kids and allow them to go into greater detail into specific subjects when they want to. You’ll be amazed at how much they can learn when it’s inspired by their own interests.
5. Play often!
A great deal of learning happens through play. Schedule playtime into your homeschooling routine. Have a good mix of learning games (both online and offline) as well as unstructured play – both are very important for energetic, young kids. The quality of learning games available online has improved tremendously in the recent past, and many allow kids to learn new subjects through immersive play. SimCity Edu is an oft-quoted example, and a good one at that, but it isn’t the only one out there. Unstructured play, on the other hand, improves skills such as creative thinking, problem solving, and socializing.
6. Be disciplined.
Flexibility is not the same as a lack of discipline. Without discipline, you will find it incredibly difficult to get through your days productively. Make it clear what behavior is allowed and what is not acceptable in your house – these rules may be different from the ones you had before you began homeschooling. Make a chart and stick it where everyone can see it if necessary.
7. Take care of yourself.
In your busy homeschooling routine, the easiest thing to overlook is your own needs. However, doing so comes at a cost. As the adult who spends all day and all night with the kids, you will quickly burn out and your kids or spouse will bear the brunt of your exhaustion. Taking care of yourself is essential in order to take good care of the kids. Finally, believe in yourself. There will be days when you’re wondering why you ever thought homeschooling was a good idea and you are struggling not to rush your kids over to the nearest public school. Just know that every homeschooling family goes through tough times and that like them, you too can make it through and emerge a stronger family on the other side.
Corinne Jacob is a wannabe writer who is convinced that kids learn best when they’re having fun. She is constantly on the lookout for new and exciting ways to make learning an enjoyable experience. Corinne loves all things that scream out un-schooling, alternative education and holistic learning. Visit her at Alternate Tutelage.