For certain students and their parents, home schooling can offer a great deal of flexibility. It can also alleviate some of the challenges of mainstream or traditional schooling. But home schooling is not without its own set of difficulties. For first-time parent-teachers, these difficulties can prove to be quite frustrating. Luckily, solutions to the most common home schooling challenges exist, and they are easier than you might think! Consider these four examples:
Do you remember every aspect of your fifth grade social studies class, your eighth grade math class, or your third grade English class? Very few people do, which can make aspects of homeschooling seem nearly impossible. You might fear the day your six-year-old student begins to work with fractions and long division, or you might dread the moment when you need to explain genetic inheritance to your teenager. But you are not alone. The Internet is an excellent resource for parent-teachers, as are guest instructors. Any subject expert can be a guest instructor, from your next-door neighbor who is an accountant, to a fellow home school parent who is also an artist. You may even end up serving as a guest instructor to another student!
Balancing the roles of parent and teacher can be difficult — especially if you have very young children in your home. A student who is frustrated by an algebra problem or a primary source from the Revolutionary War may quickly cease to think of you as a “real teacher,” even though you are. One of the best ways to address this challenge is to set guidelines with your child’s input. What behavior is acceptable when you are acting as an instructor? What academic and emotional support will she expect of you? Consider committing these rules to writing to make them official.
Computers, smartphones, and televisions — not to mention the refrigerator and your student’s favorite toys — can distract you and your family from your home schooling goals. The occasional distraction will occur, but there are steps you can take to limit other disruptions. For example, if you have an extra room in your home, transform it into a space used exclusively for home schooling. Do not allow electronics in this room unless they are applicable to the day’s lessons. Limit food and drink to prearranged breaks, but do remember to schedule these breaks, as small snacks like almonds and water can increase your child’s focus.
When you and your student live and learn in the same environment, this space can begin to seem restrictive. However, the beauty of home schooling is that your child’s education can occur anywhere. For instance, if you are exploring weather systems, you can journey to the nearest science museum. If you are reading about the planets in our solar system, you can visit a planetarium. Partnering with other home schooling families is also an option, as is enrolling your student in community extracurriculars like sports leagues, music lessons, and the like.
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