The internet can be a time-consuming activity, even though we may enjoy it.
Although we may want to use the internet to make our homeschooling better, we can get sidetracked by all of the information that is available, some of which may not be very useful.
Amidst the abundance of good ideas on Pinterest, forums, and blogs, it can be overwhelming to try and find the right curriculum for your needs. Try not to get too caught up in the search and instead focus on finding a few good resources that will work for you.
To improve the quality of homeschooling, we need to do the best things.
You can improve the quality of education in your home by doing any of the ten actions below. The more actions you take, the greater the impact will be. These actions are easy to implement, and you may even find that you enjoy them more than other activities that have been filling your day.
1. Read out loud to your kids more
- Peruse a good book list and choose a book age-appropriate to read aloud. If you have a wide range of ages, shoot for the middle of the pack. Good family-friendly read alouds for starting include The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, fairy tales, The Penderwicks, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
- Resign yourself to the fact that read-aloud time does not have to be quiet and serene to be effective. Set up some simple rules like “you are free to play with any quiet toy as long as you are listening” and “keep your hands to yourself”.
- Just get started. Commit to five minutes a day to begin and build the habit from there.
According to Andrew Pudewa from the Institute for Excellence in Writing, reading out loud to your kids helps them learn proper language patterns, which is essential for their future success in communication. Written and verbal communication are vital for any profession, so this is likely the most important thing you can do for your homeschooled kids. Reading good books also imparts a lot of useful knowledge to them.
Pudewa believes that it is important to read aloud to kids when they are young, but it is perhaps even more important to read to them after they get older. He believes that parents should read to their kids for hours each day.
Sarah Mackenzie, the host of the Read Aloud Revival Podcast, states that the main advantage of extended read-aloud sessions is that it strengthens relationships. Kids will be more likely to remember the books that adults read to them and talk about with them. Mackenzie claims that simply reading together will improve relationships within a family.
2. Choose more classic books
- For help choosing age-appropriate classics, consult this list.
- Peruse your personal homeschool book list and replace every third book with a work of classic literature instead.
This quote is from Jason Caros, who is the headmaster of Founder’s Academy. He believes that classics are important because they are written in a way that is easy to understand, and they teach people lessons about human nature.
While historical fiction, modern stories, and non-fiction are all enjoyable in their own ways, they pale in comparison to classic literature.
We need to give our children a diet of rich, full-fat opportunity, rather than a watered-down version of life.
3. Memorize a poem
- Choose a short enjoyable poem for memorization like a selection by Robert Louis Stevenson, Hilaire Belloc, or Christina Rossetti.
- Read the poem aloud daily with your kids until they have it memorized — I bet they do it quicker than you do!
- Lather, rinse, and repeat with another poem.
How this can change your homeschool: Let’s return to Andrew Pudewa from his book Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization:
A child’s inborn inclination to memorize is crucial for language acquisition. However, we mostly overlook it or allow it to occur so randomly that we miss one of the best chances to develop refined language patterns. Poetry has always played an important part in the transfer of culture, since it typically communicates the “rhythm and reason” of life in a more concentrated and unforgettable way. But if we don’t give children the opportunity to memorize poetry, they’ll let pop culture be their teacher. In other words, if we don’t provide them with works by Belloc, Stevenson, and Rossetti, they’ll memorize McDonald’s commercials and Snoop Doggy Dog rap lyrics. Memorization is not only natural for young children; it is also culturally influential and educationally necessary.
If we want our children to learn things that are important and worthwhile, we need to teach them those things ourselves.
Once you have established the habit of memorizing things, you can easily add other content such as scripture, selections from Shakespeare, or great speeches.
4. Do fewer subjects
- List out every subject that you do in your homeschool each day
- Turn a critical eye towards this list and put a star beside those subjects you would consider truly necessary for your student’s success
- Carefully consider eliminating most of the subjects without a star beside them
- Research alternate schedule ideas
If you are trying to cram too many subjects into one day, it is likely that none of them will be learned effectively. By cutting down the number of subjects you focus on, you can ensure that those skills are being mastered.
-Elementary students need to be competent in the core skills of language arts and math, as well as having classics read aloud to them, opportunities for outdoor play, and interesting field trips.
As students move into the middle and high school years, they should add more subjects to their course load. However, they should use creative scheduling techniques, like block scheduling or loop scheduling, to limit the number of subjects studied in any one day. This will ensure that students accomplish all the necessary subjects.
5. Plan a field trip
- Peruse local websites, the chamber of commerce or homeschooling resources and pick a place to visit
- Either alone or with a group, visit a museum, performance, science or nature attraction, local business — anywhere to learn
- Once there explore, read, discuss, enjoy
- Repeat often
6. It Doesn’t Take 7 Hours to School at Home
It doesn’t take 7 hours to “school” your child at home. A lot of parents who are considering teaching their children at home fear the long days. When children go to a traditional school, they are typically at school for about 7 hours 5 days a week. So, what do we do at home for SEVEN HOURS?! It absolutely doesn’t take 7 hours to “school” your child at home.
Home study simply doesn’t need to take that long. Think about a typical day at a traditional elementary school:
- Children all arrive at one place at the same time.
- Students need to settle down and take their seats.
- Attendance — typically by roll call of 30+ students — must take place.
- The teacher needs to get all 30+ students to pay attention while s/he explains to the entire class what they are going to be doing.
- Often instructions need to be repeated more than once because inevitably not everyone is actively listening. This scenario may play out multiple times each day.
- If students don’t understand the teacher’s instructions, more in-depth information must be provided — often to the entire class.
- When the teacher asks a question, all students must quietly raise their hands and wait to be chosen.
- When it’s time for recess, lunch, or an assembly, the entire class of students must quiet down and line up, then walk together to their destination.
- After recess, lunch, or the assembly, the reverse takes place.
At a traditional public elementary school, procedures happen every day that take away from learning time. Just think of how much time is spent on crowd control and review—things that don’t need to be done at home.
7. Make a Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Schedule
You can make your school schedule as simple or detailed as you want, depending on what works best for you. To get the best results, take your family’s daily routine into account. For example, if one parent has to leave for work early in the morning and you like to have family breakfasts together, you might want to start school soon after the parent leaves. That way, your students will probably be finished by the time the other parent comes home, and your family can enjoy their time together. If the non-teaching parent works nights, adjust the school schedule so it doesn’t interfere with their sleep patterns.
Although every child is different, you should try to take advantage of when your children are most alert and awake to start teaching them. If they are morning people, start school earlier. If it takes them a while to wake up, starting later might work better. It is not effective to try and teach a half-awake child. From personal experience, I can tell you that it does not work well.
You might want to consult your children on how they would like to spend their time if they are old enough. Would they like to do the hard stuff first to get it out of the way, or start with simpler, more fun lessons to ease into the challenging subjects? Our family did most of their core subjects in the morning, and saved the afternoon for projects, experiments, field trips, and enrichment classes when possible.
Make sure to include breaks no matter when you start or which subjects you first tackle.
8. Be Flexible
It’s important that your schedule can be changed easily to fit different situations. One day might not work the same as another day.
If a student is struggling with a concept, they may need more time to work on it. This may require getting out manipulatives or playing games that help teach the concept. The schedule may need to be adjusted to allow for this extra time. If the student is feeling overwhelmed, it may be best to put the concept aside for a while and try again later.
When you have to do schoolwork but can’t be at home, you can find ways to work around it. Maybe you can bring work with you to the doctor, auto shop, or nearby park. You don’t have to do schoolwork at home all the time.
9. Create a Home Study Space
Schooling at home does not require a lot of space, but it is preferable if each child has a place to study that is free from distractions.
10. Children Learn in Different Ways
It is important to realize that different people learn in different ways. It is important to realize that people are not the same, and children learn in different ways.
Home study offers the advantage of being able to adapt each course to the specific needs of the student.
Remember to Relax and Enjoy
Remember to relax and enjoy time with your kids! It goes by so fast!
That’s really what homeschooling is all about.