Can you relate?
I have a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction, however, I’ve spent many years with this feeling inadequate to teach my children. Who told me that I was ill-equipped? Why do I let these thoughts dictate my inability to act? What are some of the most important life lessons in homeschooling I’ve learned?
Education is not a one-size-fits-all. The approach taken by experts is a strategy to close the achievement gap among students. We are our child’s best advocate. No one knows your child as well as you do. You know their greatest strengths and weaknesses; you know what makes them uncomfortable and how they thrive.
10 important life lessons homeschooling has taught us are:
Put God first.
Biblically, we are to worship the creator of all things (Deuteronomy 6:4). Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
As a result, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6.
There have been times when I asked myself if I was doing was the right thing. The fact of the matter was that I was uncertain about their education. I felt powerless in what they were learning. Public education did not make me feel secure in what or how they were learning.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Challenge your children to discover their talents.
Be supportive of their efforts to try new things. Remind yourself that art is subjective.
Your child may have a passion to do something but need progress. Encourage them in this process. Create an “I can” tin. Print out strips of paper that begin with, “I can” statements.
Encourage your child to do this any time he/she learns a new skill. Revisit the tin when your child is feeling worried. Ask them questions like, “how long did it take you to learn this? We’re you always good at this?” Reinforce to them that they didn’t learn this overnight.
Ask for help!
You’d be surprised how many people are willing to give you their books, unused workbooks, or even curriculums they no longer use at little to no cost.
Community is one of the most powerful components of homeschooling.
Get involved in various social media homeschooling groups, contact your church for homeschool group meet-ups, or create a homeschooling group for people in your area.
Find a homeschool partner to do some one-on-one with. Talk about your frustrations, struggles, and concerns. Ask for resources. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Don’t underestimate the small things that foster creativity.
We like to find projects online and improvise or set a small budget to buy random crafts at the store or a thrift store to repurpose material.
Offer your child unstructured, learner-led, imaginative play opportunities. Create a space that can be used for this self-directed play; dress-up, blocks, etc. Invest in play food, repurposed music gear, costumes, or second-hand building material.
Life skills are underrated in public school.
Children to know how to make their breakfast, do their laundry (modify the tasks based on what is age-appropriate), wash their dishes, and enjoy the process.
They should be taught the process of cleaning up after themselves. Make it a part of family time to cook and clean up.
Brain breaks are essential!
It’s okay to admit that after 15 minutes you need to take a break from what you are working on. Children with sensory issues tend to need more frequent breaks, allow that to them.
The objective is to push your child to try new things without overwhelming them. Short breaks can help a child regroup. They will return to the task calmer and more comfortable.
Find or create a short activity that can distract your child from their current task. My kiddos enjoy music, so we incorporate games like musical chairs or play a game Simon Says.
Reading is fundamental.
Reading is one of the strongest predictors of academic success. Once a child can understand basic literacy skills, they can begin to explore their interest in specific topics of their choice.
Reading out loud can help children build and improve their reading skills. Ask questions that probe a child’s comprehension. Use voice fluctuations, emphasize punctuation, and use different voices for characters. Read non-fiction books that challenge your child to learn about new places and different cultures.
We incorporate daily reading aloud into our routine. My kids like to popcorn read. I will read for a time (usually 2-3 pages) and then pass it off to a child. We do partner reading, silent reading, read aloud, echo reading, modeling, and buddy reading.
Writing is foundational.
Teach your child to express their thoughts in writing.
Incorporate handwriting, cursive, spelling, sentence structure, and typing into your writing time. Have your children work together on collaborative wring, use checklists, let your child join a book club, have a daily review of their writing, let your child use dictation or speech-to-text, use dictionaries and thesaurus, and always give feedback on their writing.
You can also create a word wall to build fluency. Word sorts can help children with sensory stimulation.
Encourage your child in multiple genres of writing such as descriptive writing, expository writing, journals and letters, narrative writing, persuasive writing, and creative.
Teach your child to love learning.
Incorporate their interest in their learning. Make it a part of your daily routine for them to practice what they are passionate about.
I have a drummer. He has been playing the drums with rhythm since he was a toddler. When he was one I noticed that he suffered from sensory issues. When he drums he doesn’t have any sensory problems . He can hear a song and understand what is happening rhythmically.
We practice interest-based learning. I believe that one of the most important things that have been taken from our children is their ability to practice creativity.
Model behavior that you want your children to learn.
Honesty is key. Model the behavior when you make a mistake to admit when you’re wrong. Never lie, cheat, or steal.
If you expect your child to practice good manners model “please” and “thank you.” Collaborate with your child to send thank-you cards to people that have gifted them. Remind your child that when you practice good manners people will want to be around you and invite you to places.
Remember to always face problems calmly. Start by using a calm tone. Admit to your child when you are upset and then show them how to count to 10 and take deep belly breaths. Ask your child to do these few calming exercises with you.
Identify your feelings. Teach your child to identify their feelings. Use a emotions face chart to demonstrate different emotions.