1. Have fun. Attitude is everything with home learning. Enjoy learning and your kids will enjoy it. Make it drudgery and they will respond as well. Try to make even boring tasks pleasant at least. This is not to say that everything must be a 3-ring circus, but if you have a fresh, upbeat attitude even with times tables and spelling tests, this will reflect well on your children's enjoyment and learning potential.
2. Limit interruptions. My biggest interruption is the phone. Get a good answering machine and use it during regularly scheduled learning time. Or use voice mail. Record a message that states from this time to that time we are home educating and will get back to you after we are finished. Tell friends and relatives that this is the case, and eventually they will learn to respect this. This also means well meaning drop in visits and babysitting for friends, etc. Keep your children's learning time sacred and your family will benefit from this.
3. Dedicate your time to their learning. If you are doing 101 things while your children are trying to do bookwork, how can you expect them to concentrate and finish tasks at hand? Keep your focus on them, it is a priority that rewards!
4. Keep it simple. Be careful not to fall into the "Curriculum of the Month" club. Trying and swapping and changing your education plans with every new program that breezes by will kill your children's spirit. This is not to say that you should stay with something that is not working, just be careful not to flit about like a butterfly in a field of flowers. Your children will quickly learn that all it takes in a bit of whining and they'll have a new book, workbook or system in no time. Also, simplify your life. Too many commitments and outside activities and responsibilities can really wreck havoc with your schedule. Try to keep your life simple and you will be rewarded.
5. Have FAITH! In yourself, your kids and in God. If you are doing the best you can, you will be rewarded. How can you do any worse than an overworked, underpaid public school teacher with only 6 hours and 24 - 30 children to teach? Overcome your own shortcomings with help, tutoring assistance and your own re-education. Don't count yourself short. Children learn in any environment even the slums of Calcutta! Provide them with your time and enthusiasm, good basic materials and faith and you will do as well if not better than that poor teacher can. You have the best interest of your children in your heart. Let it work for them.
6. When in doubt READ! If the washing machine is flooding, the baby is sick, your toddler is fussy and lunch is burning don't just give up, get reading. Reading is the best way for your kids to learn and retain. Gather up the brood and snuggle on the couch with a good classic. Reading aloud is a wonderful activity for your family. Even experienced readers will love to hear a story aloud, especially when they don't have to sound out each word and get through those they may not know. There is a rhyme and rhythm to books read aloud that delights even little ones. Make it a drama performance, use voices change the sound levels of your voice, and discuss the plot. You can even tape record your story time so that pre-readers can listen again and again and enjoy the story while you worry about that washing machine!
7. Surround yourself with home school mentors. Whether it's an online group, or a support group, or just a great mom you met at church or at the library, keep in touch with these people! Ask questions; ask for helpful advice, most likely, they will be happy to help, because someone in their life helped them. Don't do this alone. Even a good home education magazine will help you in your quest. Read home education books when you are in need of a little boost.
8. Use the Library! What a wonderful resource most public libraries are. Not only books of any and every subject but reference books, video tapes, audio tapes, learning materials, computer accesses, computer software and so much more. With just a notebook and some pencils, I truly believe you could educate your children with just a library at hand! Don't spend a fortune on all these reference books for home. Use the libraries! And the librarians love homeschoolers
9. Take frequent break days. If you are sick, or some family obligations make a day difficult, take a day off. Instead of great big weeks off or even the whole summer, take frequent days off through the year to refresh and empower you. The children will be pleased and you will get a chance to regroup. Just make sure they aren't every other day!
10. Watch for outside time stealers! Field trips and social outings and classes for this and that are important, just make sure you are not overdoing it. Too many errands and outings can kill a day's learning and overwhelm your schedule. Remember that you are home schooling not car schooling! Try and schedule a day that is busy and three or four days that are not. Your family will appreciate this!
Sherri Chekal is the art director at Westvon Publishing. She is the editor of the popular http://www.TheParentTeacher.com and the http://www.TheHomeschoolShop.com websites, as well as offering her graphic talents to several bands through websites, promotion and writing talents. She plays with the Fulton County Bluegrass band in Ohio. She homeschools her two daughters and is quite the Renaissance woman of talents and skills. She is the art director for the bluegrass newspaper, http://www.TheBluegrassJournal.com
© 2006 by Sherri L. Chekal
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