Recipe for genius: More of family and less of school, more of parents and less of peers, more creative freedom and less formal lessons.
Raymond S. Moore
A good place to start is to say that, where private home schooling is concerned, there is no typical day. The tips that are shared here today are there to guide you. So, don’t follow them to the letter, but rather adapt them to your child’s needs and interests.
When planning lessons for your child, you must consider several factors, like the child’s age, his or her learning style and the subjects he or she has to be engaged in at a particular age or grade.
If you’re embarking on the path of homeschooling your child, it is, in all probability, because you’re disillusioned by what what’s happening in regular, public schools. You have decided that you can provide a better learning environment at home for many reasons, your child’s happiness being an important one.
You definitely don’t want to go down the same road that schools follow, but you will find it important to create and follow a schedule or a definite plan. As someone once famously said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”, because you will soon find that the task is wide-ranging and pretty demanding. Thorough planning will maximise the benefits of homeschooling and make the experience pleasurable for both you and your child.
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How to Adapt to Homeschooling
If you want to win at homeschooling, have a plan!
This can not be said often enough! Your life-experience will, no doubt, influence the what and the how of your planning.
What is important, within your defined structure, is that you encourage creativity and curiosity – a love, a thirst for learning and discovery!
Each child is unique, as is each learning environment. The way you homeschool your child when you’re travelling around South Africa will be different from the way you would if your location were fixed. Similarly, your teaching methods and support material would be somewhat different if you’re living on a farm as opposed to living in a city or one of its suburbs. You would also have to take into account your child’s age and their learning style when you consider your teaching approach.
Each situation is unique.
You will, firstly, have to get to know your child as a learner. If you’ve been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with your children daily, you may already have cottoned on to what makes them tick: how they learn; what they like and dislike and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Now, plan to meet them at their point of need – tailor your teaching to them.
You also have to consider your own strengths. Do an honest assessment of yourself and, if you don’t feel comfortable to teach a particular subject (say, for example, accountancy), call on the assistance of a tutor. Especially in the higher grades, you may find that you’ve not comfortable with particular aspects of the curriculum. This is where expert help is indispensable.
Mentioning a tutor also brings to the fore the consideration of costs. With homeschooling, you take on the full financial responsibility for your child’s or children’s education. You must, therefore, budget very carefully and consider all costs that are related to their homeschooling and the various homeschooling resources.
Homeschooling: A Typical Day
As stated earlier, homeschooling comes in many guises and is as varied and differently interesting as the many people who are practising it. You will decide on how to proceed guided by what stimulates and interests your child.
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The plans shared below are aimed mainly at younger learners, between the ages of 7 and 10 years of age. This is the phase where their knowledge of mathematics, reading and writing are solidified an expanded.
Students who are older can be allowed more liberty and opportunity for independent learning and study, while younger learners can be directed to learn in a more informal way.
Mornings Are for Work, Afternoons for Activities
Here is a homeschooling timetable which is premised on a typical school-day programme. The learner works during weekdays and his or her school day starts in the morning.
For younger children, sleep is key to their development and growth, so they don’t have to rise very early. Classes, therefore, don’t have to start at 08:00 as most schools do. You can start at 09:00, so that they’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when classes begin. They’ll be able to focus better, since they’re wide awake, and lessons will not be as challenging than had they started when not fully awake and ready to pay attention. Have regular, small breaks between different subjects and aim to spend between 10 and 12 hours per week on lessons.
Built into their homeschooling timetable should be a lunch break, after which you can introduce subjects which are lighter than the normal academic subjects. This can cover subjects such as creative arts, music and physical education. You could also include science experiments and walks in nature. Additionally, you could set aside a portion of the day for activities such as museum visits, singing, dancing and sports, if you don’t want to utilise the entire day for this purpose. Make sure that they carry notebooks so that they can take notes or create drawings on their excursions.
When the weekend arrives, give them and yourself a well-deserved break. If you wish to incorporate any learning, make it playful and, possibly, unobtrusive. This is time for you to spend with your child simply as their Mom or Dad, but know that you can still sing their favourite nursery rhyme with them as they enjoy swinging in the park or identify insects or bugs that they find in the grass or under a bush.
Learning opportunities will often present themselves when you may not expect them at all. Be ready!
Not in the true sense of the term. They may be travelling around the country, or the world, but they will not be doing their work (learning) purely by way of the Internet. A lot of their work may still be done offline, by way of books – reading, writing, drawing and creating.
Your homeschooling timetable will have to be adapted according to their needs at any one time. You may have arrived somewhere very late and have to lie in a bit to ensure that everyone is rested before the school day can begin.
For fairly young children, you can start your day off lightly by going over a few sing-song recitations such as Humpty Dumpty, The Wheels on the Bus or Sing a Song of Sixpence. Older children could start their day off by listening to their favourite music and singing along at the top of their voices, if they’re really into it!
Now that they’re wide awake, the academic programme can begin and, ideally, should be completed before lunch.
After lunch, you could still visit various places of interest, read, watch educational videos or meet up with other families who are homeschooling. This will provide you and your child with social interaction, support, advice and affirmation. This is, most probably, the least formal of approaches to homeschooling and works very well for foreign languages, as your child will learn by ‘doing’.
The focus in homeschooling is the child, as it is for unschooling.
Unschooling, however, is less structured than homeschooling and is determined by the child’s interests. While homeschooling is guided by provincial and national standards, unschooling is said to be “whatever the child wants it to be”.
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In essence, unschooling “is the practise of freedom in education and learning. The basic premise of unschooling is the recognition that all humans are natural learners and learn all the time; that learning happens as a by-product of living; and that learning happens intentionally because of curiosity, an interest or a goal.” (www.growingminds.co.za)
There is far less structure than is the case with homeschooling and this may come across as weird to some parents. As this is not an easy approach to follow, it would help if you have several children being unschooled – the older ones can then help the younger ones. Peer learning is very useful where children are concerned. All you really need to do is arouse their curiosity and allow their quest for knowledge to be the driving force.
With unschooling, you can ensure that they are learning what they want to learn. The activity will then be less formal and, possibly, better suited to children.
Find more about home schooling SA on Superprof.
You Don’t Have to Go it Alone
Homeschooling can be a pretty isolating experience, if not done correctly. The encouraging news is that there is a growing number of parents, across South Africa, opting for private home schooling.
Across the country, there are groups and networks of homeschoolers that meet up and participate in activities together. They, along with Internet sites, will provide you with much-needed support, as well as homeschooling resources and ideas.
Also, when you decide that you require some assistance, there are tutors available to you at just the click of a mouse. Online, you can easily locate a tutor who will travel to your home or one you can work with online, if you’re travelling.
Superprof has a host of dedicated, very professional tutors who can guide and assist your child in virtually any subject under the sun. Make sure that you make use of their generous offer of getting the first lesson free of charge! Mom, Dad! It’s your call: make it today!
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