In part two of Jessica’s 7 Keys To Homeschool Success, we focus on listening and adapting to your child through the day to keep them engaged and eager to learn. And in case you missed it, don’t forget to check out part 1!
4. Call for recess
It is all too easy to want to push the kids to just tackle their studies and get it all done so that they can have the rest of the day free. But believe it or not, this is counter-intuitive to the way our brains work best. Taking a break to run, shoot some baskets, kick a ball or just get out and move recharges the brain and prepares it for the next challenge. So be sure to schedule regular breaks and take them whether you think you need them or not. And get involved! Your brain can also use a break throughout the day!
So how do you know when an extra break is needed? When my kids started struggling with a subject or concepts that they could usually tackle without difficulty, I knew they just needed a quick break. If they were grumpy or started to complain about being tired, my alarms started to go off. And when I started to feel overwhelmed by the mess around me, I knew it was time to head outside!
So I would announce, “recess time!” and we would head outside for a good 20 minutes of fun—and oftentimes I would join them. It never ceased to amaze me how easy it was to get back to a difficult task after a quick breather.
Simply put, the trade-off is not worth it. A free afternoon after a grueling morning is not all it’s cracked up to be. And by breaking with your kids, you will enjoy the day much more. In the end, a more relaxed, longer day is better than a crammed, short day any day!
5. Stay organized
Staying organized takes time — time that, as a homeschooling parent, you think doesn’t exist — but it makes just about everything else easier. This is especially true when you are trying to keep your children current with their schoolwork. If you or your child doesn’t need to spend time looking for a pencil, a working eraser, or a textbook, you’ll have more time to focus on lessons and activities that make for a very productive and fulfilling day.
At the beginning of the school year, commit a day to organizing your homeschool room. Make sure that all your essential supplies are at your fingertips, so when you do need to find something for an activity, you’re not left rooting through large Tupperware containers. You can even engage your children in the task and let them decide how to organize their supplies.
I like to store away teacher’s guides and answer keys in a file drawer so they are always at my fingertips and organize the curriculum in a sequence that makes sense. The more time you devote up front to organizing, the less time you’ll waste throughout the school year searching for items you know are “around here somewhere!”
6. Shift gears
On days when your kids just aren’t getting it or are overly distracted, try a different approach. Don’t let the curriculum drive the schedule every day. Observe your child and adapt your approach as necessary. If you are using a Bridgeway Academy Instructor’s guide, you know that everything is mapped out for you from what to tackle in the textbook for the day to all kinds of ideas for extra fun and exploration. But don’t let that define your day. Remember, the extras are labelled optional so that you can pick and choose what you love. And you can always decide to skip something or to combine assignments to make up or get ahead of the schedule.
This was a lesson I had to learn my first year homeschooling. Even on days when it was obvious that my kids just weren’t getting it, I would push them to complete the assignments we had determined were appropriate for that day.
When I finally learned to back off, our homeschooling became much more effective. For instance, on days when my fifth-grader just couldn’t figure out how to reduce fractions to the lowest common denominator, we would take a break and move on to something else.
In some cases, we did not even return to math that day but more often than not, we found that waiting until the evening when the hustle and bustle of the day was over worked much better. At that time, she could sit down and breeze through the math concepts that were impossible just a few hours earlier.
7. Listen to your child
Part of the beauty of homeschooling is that it is a two-way street. Your willingness to bounce ideas off of your kids and to really consider their input will mean so much to them. Give them choices. If it’s time for a science or nature lesson, give them a few options or have them come up with their own. You might be surprised at what they come up with!
And take cues on how they are feeling. If they are extra-motivated and on a roll, ask them if they want to keep going or stick to the daily goal. You can always adjust your lesson plan to another day, and doing so will keep your child engaged and eager to learn.
I hope these tips help out any new-to-homeschooling or struggling parents out there this year. And remember you can always reach out to a Bridgeway representative at 1-800-863-1474, or our contact page if you need support or advice.
And parents, if you have any tips to share with our audience, leave them in a comment below!