Whether you are homeschooling one child or a number of them, it is important for the homeschooling parent/teacher to use her time and her children’s time wisely. Not only will this foster a better learning environment, but also will convey a sense of dignity to the activity, establishing it as a purposeful one.
There are some basic principles that I learned over my 28 years as a home educator that helped to make our homeschooling experience a more successful and productive one.
- Have a designated place where teaching takes place and a separate space where your student(s) can do independent work.
- Get caller-ID and an answering machine/voice mail so that you can decide which calls to take and those to ignore.
- If you are interrupted, have your students be prepared to switch to “independent work” until you are ready to resume working with them. This could include: reading, piano practice, finishing up a previous assignment, or going ahead in the lesson independently. Being prepared for these inevitable times (e.g., having to schedule a repair visit for an impaired washing machine) makes it so your student is not sitting idly waiting for your return.
- When you are driving to sport activities or doctor’s appointments, have a CD series that you listen to only in the car. (We listened to history lectures, biographies, and sermons while driving on short and extended trips.) You can also use car trips to have your student read aloud and discuss a lesson or assignment.
- Make use of the various activities of the family and turn them into educational lessons. Visits to the vet and pediatrician can give your students a chance to get questions answered and see how these professionals conduct their business. Make sure your students are always ready to “grab some reading material” for stints in the waiting room. Better to have them get some schoolwork done than just browse through magazines.
- Be ready to have to change plans on short notice. Sometimes a great opportunity will arise that requires you to alter your schedule for the day. Free tickets to a show or museum and/or an unexpected visit from a relative or family friend is a good reason to reschedule academics to later in the evening or the weekend.
The homeschooling setting is different from that of a day school, and some advance planning can allow for learning to take place in many ways and venues. I’m sure there are plenty of other good practices that are implemented every day by homeschooling moms across the country. Feel free to share some.