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1) How do you teach a subject you were never taught? (e.g., foreign languages, higher math, higher sciences, etc.)
There are many options, we can ...
1) Hire a tutor,
2) Join a homeschool coop that makes this subject available,
3) Trade skills with another homeschooling family that can teach the subject you need help with,
4) Enroll your student in a correspondence course, and/or
5) Take the course with your student and learn right along with them.
6) There are organizations that do workshops and classes
If you have more than one child, learning along with the first one is obviously a good idea. Saxon Math at all levels, for example, provides well-written textbooks, step-by-step solutions manuals, offer a help telephone line, encourages Saxon Math users to e-mail questions, and provides website resources. There are CD/video/online courses from Bob Jones University and other homeschooling providers. Also, free courses are available in almost everything online.
Parents are much smarter than they think they are or give themselves credit. Re-learning Algebra (or Biology, or Literature, etc.) as an adult with an adult mind, adult maturity and adult life-experiences is so completely different than when we were 15, 16, or 17. Age, time and experience do make a difference. Do not base your thoughts on what you remember from government school when you were 14 or 15 and how hard Algebra was for you in an overcrowded government school classroom.
With homeschooling becoming more mainstream, there are lots more options that are out there that were just not there a few years ago. See what is available in your community. There are more and more programs out there for just these subjects and concerns. Sometimes Christian college offer labs for the higher sciences to homeschoolers and many local community colleges offer dual credit courses for high school age or ability homeschoolers. Check with local colleges or universities to see if there are graduate students who may be able to tutor. You may be able to barter for services use of laundry facilities, home-cooked meals, etc. in trade for tutoring.
Be sure to check with members of your church. You will be surprised at the hidden talents in your church family. Many will step forward when they realize someone in their congregation needs help; otherwise, they will remain silent due to modest humility.
2) What happens when you think your child is not learning as well as you think they should be?
Pray with your children, asking the LORD to show you how to be the best teacher you can be. What a marvelous lesson you are teaching your children they will know that you attempt to do nothing without the LORD, but everything with or through Him. Ask the LORD to enable your child(ren) to overcome the difficulties they are experiencing in a particular subject and to continue to encourage them in the academic areas they are strong in. This is a HUGE faith builder.
One of the beauties of homeschooling is the parental ability to stop and assess the learning process each step of the way. If you do not think your child is catching on to a particular concept, stop and analyze why.
Is the child having problems with her eyes? ears? motor ability?
Sometimes a simple visit to the eye/ear/nose and throat doctor or your family medical doctor may solve this problem immediately.
It is also important to remember that not all children will be ready for certain subjects at the "prescribed" time. Some children are late bloomers. Other children are precocious and will take on subjects with or without the teacher's permission. Many homeschooling parents will consistently report stories where their children were reading pieces of literature that normally are not tackled until the teen years.
How do you or your husband learn? Do you learn by seeing, doing, reading, hearing, or a combination of these styles? How does your husband learn? Now watch your child. More than likely, your child will have a combination of learning styles from the mother and father along with their own quirks.
In the early years when homeschooling parents are gaining confidence, many homeschoolers make arrangements to have one-on-one evaluations with a Christian teacher who evaluates other homeschoolers and who the parents trust to be honest with them. Even though we are not to compare with others, this process can encourage homeschooling parents by letting them know that their child(ren) are not really behind. Usually, these teachers are able to share with the homeschooling parents what others have done to overcome the particular obstacles to learning about which they are concerned."
Some parents are totally opposed to textbooks and will not even consider using them, yet their child may thrive on how academics are presented in textbooks. Other parents may insist on using textbooks, but their child learns best by doing and hearing. It is important to understand how your scholar learns and focus on that style while gradually increasing tolerance for other styles of learning.
Your child may be learning very well without you realizing it. You may want to consider the option of testing to determine exactly where your child is at academically and decide from there.
3) How do you homeschool with babies and preschoolers?
Many homeschoolers try to do academics while babies and preschoolers are napping. Swings and playpens for the very young work quite well.
Homeschooling is so much more than bringing a private school classroom into your home. Many families incorporate many different grade levels as well as a preschoolers and toddlers into the homeschooling environment. Younger children do very well working, listening and even just playing side-by-side with older students. Coloring books are a great resource for topic related material for the younger set. The little ones may opt to play with math manipulatives during school time. By the time the little ones reach K-1st grade level, they are already very familiar with the math manilupatives and how they are used. Oral reading becomes a family affair with Legos and playdough being invaluable tools!
Another tool is to have older children occupy younger ones while the parent is working one-on-one with another child. Not only do siblings bond, but gives the parent the necessary peace to proceed with instruction. This is not a time for the young scholars to watch TV, but a time for older scholars to play a special game or teach the little ones a new activity. The little ones thoroughly enjoy this time! Depending on your neighborhood and ages, you may even be able to allow them to go for a walk down the sidewalk and back.
Training is probably the most work when teaching older siblings how to train younger scholars. Yet, this aspect of the homeschooling life is so highly rewarding that the time and effort in training the older siblings is well worth it in the end. By training children in what is expected and when, there is less crying and gnashing of teeth.
Many homeschooling mothers simply hold the baby or preschoolers while they are homeschooling. Crayons, blocks, toys or a good old-fashioned movie like Robin Hood with Errol Flynn are marvelous ways to distract young ones. Cut out various shapes from construction paper and give the preschooler a glue stick and a sheet of any color construction paper they would like and create some artwork. Rubber stamps with washable ink can be a lot of fun. Let the child look through an illustrated cultural atlas for young people, illustrated dictionaries, Audubon Guides, etc. Tupperware and pots and pans offer endless fascination. Cardboard boxes make terrific shoppes, race cars, etc. and offer endless hours of pure joy. Measuring cups both dry and wet measuring cups with water at the kitchen sink is fun entertainment as well! Make "worksheets" with numbers and letters for them to trace over or color. Attempt to include the young ones in whatever homeschooling activity you are involved in! Audio books at the appropriate age level are wonderful ways to keep a child entertained. If you feel comfortable, you may let your little one play in the yard or, better yet, have school on the picnic table in the yard! Housework like the dusting game is also beneficial not only for the little one, but is extremely helpful for the entire family. The laundry game where the little ones are folding wash cloths, dish cloths, dish towels are great along with sorting socks.
The important thing is to try your own routine and what works best for your family.
4) How can I help my preschooler be ready to homeschool?
Reading to your child is an invaluable way to prepare your child to homeschool. Read with expression and point out the words and pictures on the page. Coloring helps with learning not only colors but shapes and sizes. Singing the ABC song, learning nursery rhymes, listening to old fairy tales, Aesop's fables and similar activities help the preschooler as well to be ready to homeschool.
Interacting and being with your child is the first step. Allow your preschooler to help in daily activities and chores. If this is your oldest child, have the preschooler help with cleaning, baking, taking care of babies, gardening, etc. If this is a younger child, include the preschooler in your other children's activities (Refer to: homeschooling with preschoolers & babies) as much as possible. You know your child best and continuing to key in on those instincts will bring about a wonderful start to homeschooling!
5) What do I do if I decide a particular book or homeschool style is not for me?
The beauty of homeschooling allows the family to assess at any given point in time to determine if a particular homeschooling style is working for their children and for the parent the needs of both may be different. Most homeschooling parents find that their homeschooling style may change at least 12-15 times during the first week of homeschooling! Moreover, as your scholars grow older their academic needs may change as well as their homeschooling style. Each child will learn at a different level and at a different pace according to their internal clock. What may be the most appropriate learning style for your child at 5 (say "doing") may change when they are 10 (to, say, seeing) and may change when they are 15 (say reading).
The important thing is to be sensitive to changes in the learning style of your scholar.
6) What about lesson plans?
There is an old saying that says: Fail to plan and plan to fail.
Some homeschoolers are extremely organized and some states demand a calendar at the end of the year documenting what is done academically during the homeschool year (like Pennsylvania).
Determine how many days your state requires you to be homeschooled. In Pennsylvania, it is 180 days. After you have decided on your curriculum for the year, divide the number of pages in each book by 180 days or how many days your state requires you to be homeschooled. If you have an office store nearby, you may want to purchase a week-at-a-glance calendar. At the beginning of each week write down what is required for each student varying the color in ink pens for each child. In this way the each child know what is expected of them for each subject on a daily basis. The lesson plans in the week-at-a-glance calendar is not set in concrete, but can be changed as needed and/or desired.
You may want to consider keeping a portfolio for each child. If so, have your child put their school work in their portfolio as it is completed daily.
7) What have you learned since you have been homeschooling?
Prayer is essential to homeschooling.
Relax! Enjoy the homeschooling journey!
You are not a failure if your child is struggling in a particular academic area. They just have a different learning style or way of processing information.
Curriculum choices are overwhelming, a parent will never be able to do every textbook, workbook, or unit study that is out there. It is important to stay focused on the family homeschooling goals and aim to accomplish those.
As a parent/teacher it is our job to train lifelong learners. We want our children to enjoy learning in a variety of areas and in a variety of ways. We want our scholars to be able to explore a topic, concern or interest further on their own, either now or in the future.
8) If I choose to use a textbook, do I have to do EVERYTHING the book says?
You are the headmaster of your homeschool. If you opt not to do everything the text book says, then do not do it. Basically, a textbook (like history) is a type of outline. It is there to give you ideas. Some individuals use parts of history textbooks, but yet, do not use the textbook on a formal basis.
YOU and your children's academic needs will determine if you need to do everything in the textbook.
9) What if our family decides not to finish a textbook?
You are the headmaster of your homschool. If you have determined that you only need a few things in a textbook, then only use those few things.
You determine how to best meet the academic needs of your scholar, if the textbook only has certain chapters that will aid your child in their education.
10) What is meant by incorporating character traits into one's curriculum? Why is that important?
Incorporating character traits in history is fun, easy and memorable. As you study personages in history, discuss stengths in terms of character traits courgeous, dependable, reliable, cheerful, persistent, etc. Literature is also a good way to begin to explore character traits as well. Discuss if these individuals are sad, glad, mad, scared, cruel, kind, etc. Discuss how character traits influenced how these individuals acted.
Now is the time to introduce the concept of: "We act on what we think."
Discuss how their actions both good and bad impacted other people. Discuss what God has to say about these character traits and how He wants His people to behave. Discuss the consequences and rewards as a result of particular thought processes that are demonstrated through actions.
11) What should I do when I question my ability, sanity and want to give up? Is this common?
This is usually the time when God is getting your attention to rely on Him and not on yourself.
The whole aspect of questioning our abilites, sanity and desire to give up may be avoided or minimalized. via prayer, daily immersion in the Word, and being aware of our own areas of weakness.
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