Even in the world of homeschooling, there are some constants and there are some things that are constantly changing. One option currently popular with parents is to hire a tutor for subjects in which parents may not be proficient. This isn’t a completely new idea, of course, especially as kids get into the high school years and need help with their calculus homework! My own daughter takes Spanish lessons from a tutor, since I don’t speak Spanish myself. Tutoring is a great option to consider in trying to round-out your child’s homeschooling curriculum. You can really round-out some of the areas you might be weak in as an instructor, and keep those weak areas from developing in your child’s knowledge base too.
I know it’s something I need to push, but on the other hand, it’s probably pretty normal to dislike creative writing. Did you ever have to do that writing experiment in elementary school where the teacher makes you close your eyes for a minute and try to clear your mind? Then you open your eyes and write down whatever pops into your head. Most kids hate this kind of thing because the lack of direction makes them a bit uncomfortable. It’s one thing to have a writing assignment, and quite another to be left floundering, trying to figure out what you’re “supposed” to write!
But this sort of experience is a type of creative writing, and sometimes it’s actually quite a good idea to write in a more unstructured and free-flowing way. In second grade, many kids enjoy telling stories, so you can ask your second grader to write a story, either anything they want, or within certain parameters, and this is a painless and fun introduction to creative writing.
This is a question many parents find themselves asking. Each family has their own reasons for choosing to homeschool, but for many parents of gifted kids, homeschooling is an excellent option. Public schools are stretched with tight budgets and overcrowded classrooms, and even those with gifted programs have likely had their budgets cut in recent years. Besides that, gifted programs in public schools are limited by what the school district considers appropriate materials to teach, and curious, intellectual children may want to explore something completely different. Instead of pushing a child in a certain direction, as happens in public school, homeschooling allows a gifted child to explore their interests in depth. As we all know, kids learn best when the material is interesting to them!
Whatever curriculum you choose, the basics will still need to be covered. Math, reading , spelling, writing, science, and history. These are the staples in any student’s life. But the manner in which you teach these subjects, and the speed at which a gifted child is able to master a lesson and move on to the next one, varies a great deal.
Most 4th graders these days are pretty adept at computer skills. So much of our lives is handled through computers these days, from scheduling our days to storing family photos, so it’s no wonder a vast array of options for homeschooling has developed utilizing computers. There are several publishers that market CD-ROM programs with everything you need for a given grade. The student can sit at the computer and work almost completely on their own.
Of course, the parent will still need to help out, particularly if the child finds a particular concept difficult. Homeschooling parents can also choose to supplement the curriculum with other materials of their choosing, as needed. This is a great option for parents of multiple children or those homeschooling with a baby or toddler who also needs their time.
Computer skills are an invaluable part of modern society, and starting kids on the computer by 4th grade can be quite beneficial to their long term education.
Choosing which curriculum to homeschool with is a huge decision, and a very personal one. While the available options may be very similar, each family approaches the decision differently. Your outlook may be colored by the circumstances of how your children were previously educated. Maybe you’re pulling them out of a troubled public school system with a substandard curriculum, or your spouse lost their job and suddenly expensive private school is out of reach. Or perhaps you’re beginning to homeschool right from the starting line, in kindergarten, and don’t know where to start.
One option that some families transitioning away from public school prefer is commonly referred to as “e-school”. This is basically a public school curriculum done from home on a computer. There are several private companies that each state contracts with to provide these services. Often, the state even pays for children to have a computer at home for doing their schoolwork.
However, most homeschoolers choose their own curriculum from the multitude available. Some choices include curriculum-in-a-box options where the texts and workbooks for an entire grade level are bundled together. The great part about picking and choosing your own curriculum is that you can choose a math book from a publisher known to be strong in that subject, and a science program from a publisher respected for its science texts. You can also have a child working at grade level in one subject and either up or down a grade in another subject, so that your child’s curriculum is tailored to their needs.
Which is better? Year-round homeschooling, or giving the kids the summer off? The first several weeks of public school each fall are spent reviewing the previous year’s material, and this trend is evident in some homeschooling curricula as well. So while some school districts have gone to year-round schooling just to help eliminate the expense of empty buildings and downtime in the summer, you have to wonder if maybe some of them figured out it was more efficient for the kids too! Kids learn better in a continuous fashion, not with starts and stops in their education.
Homeschoolers have wonderful flexibility in their schedules. Sometimes it may be necessary to take some time off due to family issues, or travel, or maybe just whenever that burned out feeling sets in and everyone needs a break. It’s much easier to take some occasional time off when you’re not worried about falling too far behind, and if you’re homeschooling year-round, you have plenty of buffer time to allow for breaks.
What does “socialization” mean? One of the biggest complaints about homeschooling that you’ll hear from folks who don’t understand it is the issue of socialization. How can your kids socialize with their peers if they’re stuck at home all day? They’ll grow up in isolation and their social development will be delayed. Right?
Wrong! Homeschooled kids are some of the busiest around. There are so many activities available in most communities that if you did all of them, you’d never be at home to do any schoolwork. The YMCA often offers homeschool classes, such as swimming lessons, and depending on the YMCA, they may offer even more. Some have computer and foreign language classes for homeschoolers, and even art and music lessons. Your local community center probably has planned activities too, and these things provide time for kids to learn and interact with others.
It’s a little known holiday, and not well-celebrated at all, but Flag Day can be wonderful for homeschoolers. At our house, we put up our patriotic decorations, normally reserved for the Fourth of July. We just leave them up for a month or so. Red, white, and blue bunting decorates the porch, and of course flags are everywhere here. Flag Day is simply the celebration of the American flag, and everything it stands for. This fun holiday is June, right in between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn why we have stars on our flag, and what the red and white stripes stand for. How does our flag differ now from the original flag when our country was formed?
Learning how to use the library resources is a great idea for any homeschooler, and these skills become more and more important as children get older and more independent. Learning about the Dewey Decimal System, how to find things in the library’s catalog, and where different sections are located in the library are all invaluable skills. You could even consider getting each child their own library card and teaching some responsibility that way.
Even if your chosen curriculum doesn’t specifically recommend utilizing the library, you can certainly do so on your own to supplement the materials you use as part of homeschooling. Kids benefit a great deal from free time to do independent reading, so letting them choose some books to check out is a great bonus. For younger kids who aren’t reading yet, let them get comfy and read them a story! It’s wonderful quality time for parent and child, and it builds those phonics and pre-reading skills that will come in handy later on. Everyone loves the library!
Big families are pretty common in the world of homeschooling, but even moms teaching just two children can be challenged by the needs of each child being so different. This is especially a problem if both kids need lots of one-on-one time to accomplish their work. The problem only worsens if a baby or toddler needs mom’s attention too. What’s a busy homeschooling mom to do?
The more kids you have, the more difficult this will be; there’s really no way around that fact. If your children are close in age, you may be able to adapt the curriculum to meet both of their needs at the same time. You could also move toward getting your kids to work more independently so you aren’t needed as much. In fact, there are some types of curricula more flexible on this point than others. Unit studies, for example, tend to be very adaptable to different ages, and of course computer programs encourage independent work. If you can get one child set up on a computer project, you’ll have time to help another with their math assignment.