guide for homeschooling parents

Guide for Homeschooling Parents

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Homeschooling is proving to be growing in popularity year after year. In the spring of 2019, there were an estimated 2.5 million homeschooled children in the USA according to statistics. However, there are many homeschooling parents who strive to achieve the desired results. Teaching is a complex matter which requires dedication and life-long learning therefore I can understand the many difficulties parents encounter while engaging in such a herculean task. To give parents some perspective I put together a list of tips and advice useful for any teacher/homeschooling parent at the beginning of their journey. They are lessons that I’ve learnt throughout my 12 years as a teacher and they are meant to give teachers and parents more confidence in assuming this essential role. The list below is by no means exhaustive and there will always be more to be learnt and experienced. This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. You can read my full disclosure here.

10 Ways to Make Homeschooling Effective

Multiple Intelligences Test Surprise bags Simple Lesson Plan Template Attention Getters Pace of activities Learning Contract Vision Board Growing Learner Autonomy Less talking Find a Teaching Balance

How to Manage Homeschooling Successfully

  • First, find out what kind of learner your child is to choose the best activities for him. Try this multiple intelligences test. According to your findings, design and choose materials for your child’s dominant traits: more pictures, posters, and videos for a visual learner, more games and movement for a kinesthetic learner etc. You can read all about the importance of knowing your child’s learning style in this article on multiple intelligences.
  • Children are curious, so introduce surprise elements: riddles, music, dramatic stories, games, discussions, jokes, stimulating pictures etc. You can also bring a surprise bag that includes items used to introduce the topic of the lesson; have the child guess what the topic used by looking at the items.
  • Listen actively to your child and take into account his wishes.  Since you are homeschooling, it is easier to take your time and do that. Respect his preferences, ask which activities he enjoyed most, and use them again.
homeschooling guide
  • Grow learner autonomy-gradually offer more independence as a learner, both in terms of what they learn and how they learn. An example of how they learn: at first have your child listen to a model and repeat it; later have him look for words for himself/ do a reading puzzle by himself; when confident enough, offer appropriate resources and let him do the work by himself. You can also grow learner autonomy by offering your child playful learning experiences. For inspiration and ideas, read this article on learning through play activities.
Offer feedback in the form of constructive criticism, but also praise. Opt for variety, but also be consistent in everything you do.
  • Be adaptable and flexible -act quickly when things don’t go as planned, prepare backups; be ready to assume different roles within a lesson: the prompter, the controller, the resource, the assessor. For inspiration and ideas of free activities and resources, make sure to read 13 Sites With Free Resources for kids.
  • Know what you are teaching: read the lesson, do the exercises, think of what possible questions the child might have about the topic, try the activities yourself.
  • Give clear and simple instructions; make sure the child understood them (ask him to explain what he has to do; ask a question to check).
  • Give the lesson structure by following a simple lesson plan: introduce the topic (through a video, a poster, a song etc); discuss the lesson and have your children practice what has been discussed; your child actively works with the topic of the lesson (draw a project, make a presentation; have an interview, record a video etc).
  • Prompt your child to correct himself first; if he cannot, offer the right answer/explanation; have him repeat. Offer reinforcements (praise, hugs, clapping, high fives etc) and create a positive learning environment.
Students feel comfortable with a certain level of predictability, that is why it is important to create a routine.
  • Always set time limits; make sure your child knows when to start and finish an activity; announce when there is little time left (eg 1 more min)
  • Children’s attention span is limited so always be ready to get and maintain your child’s attention: make constant eye contact, decide on gestures for when you want to talk, you want them to speak etc. Use attention getters: you say “ready”, they say “ok”; you say “one, two, three”, they must say “eyes on me”; you say “class” on various voices, they must answer “yes” using the same tone.

Homebased learningStop Doing These Things and Witness The Results

  • Don’t try too much, too fast
    • Teach a small amount of information; check what your child has taken in; give him opportunities to use the information; only then continue teaching
  • Don’t talk too much
    • Ideally, during a lesson, your child should talk more than you. Avoid long explanations and replace them with demonstrations if possible. Use gestures, have children explain back, offer plenty of opportunities for your child to practice what you teach.
  • Avoid sitting too much
    • Change the pace of the activities: play a song and dance, then sit down on a cushion and discuss, sit on the chair and work on a task, go around the house to interview, survey etc
  • Try to teach with a positive attitude
    • Leave all problems at the door.
    • When things don’t go as hoped(not doing assignments, not willing to participate etc) write a letter to tell your child what is wrong and ask him to answer back. Do not act on the spur of the moment.

5 Simple Yet Essential Rules for Homeschooling Parents

1. Be friendly, but firm

Joke, bring fun activities, but not without teaching value; be open and look approachable, but also show authority. Empathy is essential in order to build a good rapport with the child.

2. Set rules

Decide on 3-5 rules from the very beginning and discuss what happens when breaking them. Rules must be simple and visible during the teaching process. It’s important to establish the rules together with the child, negotiate them and thus he will feel more empowered and more willing to obey the rules.

3. Outline objectives

Set clear objectives, short term (for each lesson), but also long term (in three months, the end of the school year etc). Identify them and discuss the commitment of the child, maybe sign a learning contract (you can find a model here)

4. Cultivate motivation

Stir interest and get your child involved. In order to help cultivate motivation, children need to be given autonomy, freedom to choose. It is also important to help them visualize outcomes (try a vision board) and build self-confidence (recognize student’s achievements, offer praise). Extrinsic motivation in the form of rewards could help, but it is advisable to use it for simple, mechanistic tasks.

5. Find a balance

Choose the right activities: not too long/easy/hard/ repetitive. Offer both feedback (constructive criticism) and praise. Opt for variety, but also be consistent in everything you do (students feel comfortable with a certain level of predictability). Read as much as you can about teaching and always stay up to date with the latest teaching methods, ideas, and practices. Here are some great books that can offer guidance and more clarity: What Great Teachers Do Differently  Your First Year: How To Survive and Thrive As A Teacher Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain  I Wish My Teacher Knew

Conclusion

The focus of this article has been to highlight essential aspects of teaching with an emphasis on the child and teaching approaches for homeschooling parents. As a teacher and homeschooling parent, I know that the road is sometimes bumpy, chaotic, or tiresome. But I also know it can be truly fulfilling, tremendously fun and it never ceases to amaze. Patience and perseverance, dear parents, dear teachers! You are homeschooling, in other words doing a wonderful job that no one else can! You are paving a path to the future, but “the FUTURE depends on what you do TODAY” (Mahatma Gandhi)
We share all of our ideas on our Facebook group Learning Activities for Kids.
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52 thoughts on “Guide for Homeschooling Parents”

  1. This couldn’t be so timely for parents. Since the school is cancelled, they are going to need tips for their homework. Great article!!!🤗

    1. What Does Mamma Say

      Thank you, Janitza. We don’t have a schedule yet, but we do have an e-book of 28 activities for kids that can be used when homeschooling. There is a pop-up on the website. We are planning on helping homeschooling parents more though and are presently looking for suggestions. Could you please offer more info about what you have in mind?

  2. I blog about homeschooling as well and this was a great post! Avoid sitting too long was my favorite tip. Sitting for too long can make the day drag by and everyone becomes restless.

    1. What Does Mamma Say

      That is completely true, children do become restless very quickly that is why variety is very important. Homeschooling parents also love the idea of having a schedule. Do you have one?

    1. What Does Mamma Say

      You’re very welcome, Jennifer. I am sure many homeschooling parents incorporate e-learning too. It is very useful

  3. I’ve always felt like homeschool was misunderstood. It’s not the same as classroom learning, just at the kitchen table. Thanks for for highlighting ways to make this different methodology successful!!

  4. while we are not homeschooling, kids are going to be home remote learning this first half of their upcoming school year; and i am sure these tips are definitely going to be useful for that as well..

  5. These are great tips! I’m new to homeschooling as this will be my first year just getting my feet wet and I’m really excited to get started!

  6. Awesome tips! I’ve always wanted to Homeschool my younger son, but since moving to Australia, he’s loving school…well, kinda, lol! But I love the whole idea of Homeschooling…;)

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