Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Highlights from Homeschool Counseling

{photo by Jenny Curzan}

A few weeks ago, we hosted a “Homeschool Counseling Seminar” on each track, as a forum to share ideas, problem-solve, and support each other in home education. For those who attended, we hope you found some inspiration and a handful of ideas to try. For those who were not able to attend, here are some of the tips, resources, and thoughts from those two days, that we wanted to pass along to everyone. 

First, some insights and ideas that were shared about homeschooling and tackling various issues:

• One parent is finding that starting her homeschool day with a few positive words to her kids about what a great job they are doing, or why she is thankful to have this time with them, is doing a lot to help her own attitude and mindset, as well as fostering a better relationship with her kids. It’s good to frequently remind yourself (and your kids) of the reasons why you have chosen this type of education.

• It’s important to protect your homeschooling time as much as you are able to, and to give your kids the same attention you expect them to give you. Checking email, taking phone calls, running errands during homeschool hours... sometimes it works out fine, but most people generally felt their home days were better when they guarded that time.

• When working with students who want to be more independent with a subject, such as math or writing, one parent found it helpful to have frequent checkpoints to make sure the student was on the right track, rather than allowing them to complete the entire assignment without checking in, only to discover it was all done incorrectly. 

• Tips for wiggly ones who can’t sit still for a math lesson (or any subject): Look at the problem, run and touch the wall, then come back and write the answer. Or do math problems outside with chalk (then mom can copy them later into the book). Try jumping rope or another physical activity right before sitting down to learn, or even during a lesson. It really helps some kids to focus and retain more.

• Once in awhile to mix things up at home, or when you feel you’re in a rut, maybe try putting a couple of the home subjects on the back burner for just a week, and replacing that time with a fun creative project the kids can get involved in, like something from the blog post about using butcher paper, or crafts that go along with our history, literature, or science (a google search can reveal lots of possibilities). Or ask your kids what they are interested in - they may have ideas in mind for a project they’d love to work on.

• Keep reading aloud to your kids, even the high schoolers!

• One parent of high schoolers who has been homeschooling for a long time says to believe in what you are doing, in the school, in the teachers, and in your kids. Let your kids see that, and they will be successful.



And now, the practical stuff and resources (these are all parent recommendations shared during the seminar):

• Susan Wise Bauer has an audio series on teaching students to work independently.

• The Blackgold Library system’s Overdrive program is a great way to download audiobooks and books for kindle or iPad, for free.

Project Gutenberg offers classics online for free.

• booksshouldbefree.com is another source for free audiobooks and ebooks.

• One parent recommended placing reference books out while reading the literature, like an encyclopedia of colonial-type ships with detailed drawings, and The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe  by Theodore Gray 

• The book Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax was recommended.

• Our school website has an excellent audio resource of a lecture given by Andrew Pudewa called Teaching Boys and Other Kids Who’d Rather be Building Forts All Day.

• The PBS home video The War That Made America: The Story of the French and Indian War was recommended. There is one copy in the library system, or it’s available to purchase on Amazon.

• When you just need to put on a video for the kids, Liberty’s Kids is a series about the American Revolution. You can purchase it, get the discs through Netflix, or find them on youtube.

• Crayola makes Bath Markers that are nice for practicing math facts, recitations, or spelling in the bath or shower!

Thanks to all who attended and shared their triumphs, trials, and suggestions. We appreciated hearing one another’s ideas and hope you can gain from these collected tips as well. 

Let’s talk: Do you have something to add to this list that would be helpful to another homeschooling parent out there? Please comment below!

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