Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Grading in homeschooling

Grading in homeschooling is done by the teacher-in-charge. In most of the cases, this means mom! In this situation, grading can get a bit tricky because it can be a little difficult to grade your own child. There is no benchmark against which you can evaluate your child's performance. In most cases, you also have no awareness of how well other children are doing. So, obviously the traditional method of grading is perhaps not the best method to follow.

When grading a child undergoing homeschooling, it is more important to assess whether the child has understood the subject that is being taught. Inherent in this is the fact that if the child has not understood something, you will go over it again. This will work in your child's favor in 2 ways. Firstly, the child knows that if he or she fails to catch on, the topic will be repeated till it is mastered. Secondly, the child also knows that once the topic has been mastered, he or she will get full credit for his hard work. Getting full reward for the hard work put in is a great motivational factor, especially for kids.

When assessing your child's abilities, do not allow emotions to overcrowd your rationale. Do not yield to the cries and tears of your child if he or she resists certain topics or subjects. If mastering these skills is necessary, then you as the teacher (and not as the parent alone) have to go over the topic over and over till it sinks in. When dealing with tougher concepts, the child may get restless and may even show frustration or belligerence. When the child is still young and unable to understand the importance of his lessons, it is your responsibility to see to it that the child develops the skill set necessary for future growth.

In case you belong to a state that requires yearly tests, this will help you to judge your child's ability vis-à-vis his peers. Even if it is not mandatory, you may want to test your child every year. These tests will reveal the variations in the child's learning pattern. It may show up unexpected areas of strength and hitherto unknown areas of weakness. This enables you to structure your teaching to cover the areas that are weak, and build upon the areas that are strong.

In case your state requires a homeschool report card, keep a record of the yearly development and scores of your child. Include pertinent areas like punctuality, discipline etc in the report. You may also need to keep a record of the number of working days and attendance schedules. While grading your child, make sure that you use as many external tests as possible. There are several websites that deal with the various age groups, and allow free downloading of question papers. This is an excellent and cost-effective method to assess your child. Homeschooling, if done in the proper manner, will boost the child's confidence because he will be studying to satisfy his natural curiosity. The scores therefore will reflect his true intelligence.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Financing homeschooling

When people talk about teaching their children from home in the absence of any definite or structured curriculum, it is perhaps natural to think that homeschooling is cheap. But this is far from the truth. Although homeschooling does not stick to any particular text, this is perhaps more of a bane than a boon, when it comes to finance.

When you need to make sure that your children receives state-of-the-art education so that they can compete with regular school goers, expenses will naturally mount. The actual cost of educating a child at home is surprisingly high. Up-to-date textbooks, course materials, a library, computing equipment, lighting, specially designed furniture all cost money. In this case, the cost may be slightly lesser when it comes to homeschooling the second child. Add to this any additional tuition cost for tutors who come to teach subjects that cannot be handled by parents, like higher-level math or science. The total cost can be a bit mind boggling.

If you take another important factor into consideration, homeschooling costs may effective triple. The need for having one of the parents tied to the house and fully dedicated to providing education deprives the family of a second earning member. The average homeschooling teacher is usually a lady with a college degree. This means that she can easily bring home a pay of $35,000 or more. It is also interesting to note that most families that have more than 2 children do not opt for homeschooling at all.

But, there are those who have been successful in carrying out homeschooling at low rates. This is dependent on the size of the family, the support group, the type of materials used and the availability of the material. When successive children can reuse the materials, cost goes down. Much of the course material can be got from vendors of homeschooling materials. A membership in a public library, theatre, concerts, ballets and other cultural events also help in cutting costs. Sometimes, it is even possible to barter expertise. For instance, the mother of an 8-year old gives dancing classes, and her daughter receives drawing classes for free. Support groups allow you to divide the cost of field trips, science projects and fairs.

Whatever the cost, advocates of homeschooling say that the benefits far outweigh these considerations. When you are able to decide what knowledge your child receives and when he or she should be taught and to what extent, it gives you a lot of freedom and a lot of power. Both the children as well as the parents benefit from this mutually enriching experience.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Homeschool - staying connected

The world has become a jungle of knowledge. Wherever you turn, you find a new fruit that just has to be passed on to your child. In the middle of all the knowledge flying to and fro, we sometimes forget to talk and relax with our children. A mom who doubles as a teacher needs to leave the teacher behind and simply become mom for a few hours everyday.

Listen to your child. Do not just hear the words, but notice the emotion too. Many children find it difficult to express exactly what they want. Talk to your child about general stuff and allow him to be 'just a kid'. When you talk to your child, as for his opinions. Few things please him more. It also adds kilos to his self-confidence.

Most parents interrupt when their children talk. We, as adults, detest it when someone cuts across our lines. Kids keep mum because they are forced to be silent when we shut them up. But this is unhealthy and unfair. Allow your child to finish and then express your views in a rational manner. The child should have the confidence to confide in you.

Gentle parenting is the key to successful homeschooling. Be a parent first, and then a teacher.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Benefits Of Homeschooling

Why let Tim and Lisa learn at home than send them to school? Well, first of all, you don't have to wake them up at 7 every morning and bundle them off to school with umpteen numbers of instructions, and wait with an anxious heart till they return. Homeschooling gives you more control over the influences that affect your child. The growth and development of your child is removed from the realm of the unknown. You, and you alone
can decide what your child needs to do or learn. Tailoring the curriculum to suit the needs and interests of the child is one of the most obvious benefits of homeschooling

Individual attention is another salient benefit of homeschooling. For instance, if Lisa needs more time to learn
Math, then she can reduce the time for her English lessons. There are no fixed hours of learning per subject. This means that a child has the advantage of assigning more number of hours to the subject that seems tough WITHOUT any additional pressure. The amount of time needed to learn each subject will depend on the abilities and interests of the child.

The schooling of the child becomes an extended family activity. Parents get involved in every step of the learning procedure. Field trips and experiments become family activities. Thus, the child receives more quality time with his parents. The entire family shares games, chores and projects. Family closeness becomes the focus here. The child is also free of any negative peer pressure while making choices and decisions.

Competition is limited when it comes to homeschooling. The child does not need to prove his ability with regards to other children. His confidence remains intact. Since parents have a deep understanding of their child, they can plan the learning program to pique the child's interest. It is also possible to intersperse difficult tasks with fun activities. A tough hour with Algebra can be followed by a trip to the nearest museum. Learning becomes fun. Parents can also tailor the curriculum to suit the learning style of the child. Some children learn through reading, while others need to write, and still others need to see objects in action.

Homeschooling allows parents to take control over the moral and religious learning of the child. Parents have the flexibility to incorporate their beliefs and ideologies into the child's curriculum. There is no confusion in the child's mind either because there is no variation between what is being taught and what is being practiced.

Lastly, more and more parents are getting disillusioned with the public school system. They believe that their children are being pushed too hard or too little. Other worrying issues pertaining to discipline and ethics also make the school system less welcome. Many repudiate the educational philosophy of grouping children solely on the basis of their age. Some parents themselves have unhappy memories of their own public school experience that motivates them to opt for homeschooling when it comes to their own children. 

Homeschooling is the best way to teach a child if you have the time, the ability and the interest to follow through with his education. After all, nobody can understand or appreciate your child more than yourself.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Homeschool burnout

When a parent takes on the responsibility of educating his or her child, home school burnout is one of the more common issues they have to deal with. There are many reasons that lead to this burnout: an illness, a new baby, added responsibility, change in routine etc.

The symptoms of burnout vary from lack of patience to overeating and crying without any apparent reasons. Surprisingly, a burnout need not be such a bad thing. It is a wake-up call - an indicator that things are not going well and that you need to reschedule. Reversing or avoiding a burnout is possible if you get fair
warning.

Firstly, lower your expectations. Do not be a perfectionist. Take the good days with the bad. Next, when something does not seem to work, look for alternative methods. Flexibility is a key factor. If tension starts mounting, take a break. When necessary, change the style of teaching. For instance, small children love to take on their spellings when they quiz an adult.

Avoid overkill. Do not pack too many activities for the sake of socializing your child. A worn out mom means a grouchy kid and that means no happiness. Get support from your spouse or a neighbor or a support group. Don't try to achieve everything by yourself. Homeschooling means 'happy schooling' - don't forget that.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Disadvantages of public schooling

When we consign our children to public schools, we feel satisfied that they are receiving 'quality education'. But, are we really getting our money's worth? More importantly, are the children gaining anything from this kind of a learning procedure?

Socialization is hailed as one of the greatest advantage of schools. This is the place where the child picks up the rudiments of social skills that help him survive. But in truth, a regular school-going child can interact only with his peers. He may bully younger children or fear older ones. He does not know how to behave with an adult. This is because in the school environment he interacts only with his peers. A homeschooling environment brings in a more natural social environment.

A regular school going child cannot read literature. He cannot keep silent or think in depth about any one thing. The artificial 'busy' ness imposed upon him by the school disallows quiet contemplation. Rowdy and destructive behavior, as seen among peers, is more noticeable in school-goers.

There is little long-standing knowledge among regular school goers because most things are learnt for the exam. There is no correlation of facts with life. The child may know a lot, but understands very little. This is where the homeschoolers beat the regular school goers. Ultimately, homeschoolers emerge more adept at facing the outside world.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Homeschooling hours

How many, how often and when? These are some oft-repeated questions when it comes to homeschooling hours. Flexibility is of course one of the key underlying principles behind homeschooling. This flexibility applies not only to the curriculum but also to the number of hours. It is only natural that parents, especially if they have just started out on homeschooling should feel that their children should be at their books all the time when regular school-goers are at school. This is not only fallacious but can also be damaging and counter-productive.

One of the most ignored but glaring drawbacks of the public schooling system is the sheer waste of time and energy that it causes. Many periods are simply wasted away and the child effectively derives only 1-3 hours of study everyday. Then, there are days when the studies become too intensive and other days when it's only games and no work at all. There is a lot of 'invisible wastage' involved here.

Early on in your homeschooling practice, work out a schedule. It is advisable to stick to the same hours everyday. A routine makes it easier to learn and gives structure to the learning experience. It also tells the students that parents are strict about their learning. A routine also allows your child to free his mind from other activities and concentrate on studies. He knows that a particular time is strictly set aside for learning.

The actual number of hours that you need depends on the curriculum you have chosen and the learning style that suits your child. If you are dealing with a subject that seems to be more complex, you may need to sit with the child for a longer period. Using various techniques, it may be necessary to demonstrate what you are trying to teach. For instance, a lesson in Algebra may take more time than a lesson in English.

Homeschooling does not refer to the practice of sitting in front of the books and learning the printed matter. Field trips, watching documentaries, visiting factories and libraries also make up an important slice of the homeschooling process. It makes sense to intersperse these activities so that learning becomes fun. You may want to finish off the few hours of textbook learning in the morning and dedicate the afternoons to these kinds of activities.

Given the fact that too many public school hours are wasted in meaningless activities ranging from talking to extra-curricular activities, do not allow public school hours to dictate the time you should spend teaching your child at home. Remember that at home, he is getting a high-quality one-to-one time that is highly productive. About 1-3 hours of study is enough in the primary level. It is of course true that the more number of hours you put in, the more learning takes place. This is also the reason why homeschooling children are much smarter and more balanced than regular school going children.