Less Than Ideal: Preparing for and Dealing With Common Homeschooling Problems
You may have been working for weeks- even months on developing and preparing your curriculum. If you’re anything like me, you’ve poured over library books, researched topics of study online, watched documentaries, and spent many hours learning the material yourself. You’re excited about the topics you’re about to cover. The details excite you. You’re interested. You’re hooked. You can’t wait to begin.
Your Child’s Level of Excitement May Not Match Yours
As teachers, (and never forget that is what you are, homeschooling parent!) we often become passionate about some of the topics we teach. I often begin studying topics months before I will teach them, learning simply for pleasure – soaking in all the information and details I can. I get EXCITED to teach my kids.
However, everyone is different. What makes me tick, might not make my child tick. What I find fascinating, you may find dull. Don’t go into a unit study or topic of exploration expecting your child to match your level of interest. They may….but they might not. Don’t take it personally. We are all interested in different things.
One thing I do know – kids will often take their cue from you. If you are genuinely excited and you allow your passion and interest to come through in your teaching – particularly in a dynamic way (not simply through worksheets and paragraph reading), your child is much more likely to become engaged and enthusiastic. Give them a reason to be interested. Make learning fun. Do as much hands-on activity as you can. They may not want to dive as deeply as you do, but they’ll be much more likely to participate cheerfully and retain the knowledge they glean.
Crickets and Hamsters
As a classroom teacher and now as a homeschooling parent, there have been so many times where I’ve anticipated a rich and lengthy discussion with my students. I’d taken time to carefully come up with thoughtful and probing questions. Eagerly, I asked my questions to my students/children and got back nothing in return. Crickets.
Even after appropriate “wait time”, our children are not always going to engage in our questions. Be prepared to be met with silence or to be derailed by questions, comment, and stories that are completely off-topic.
When you are met with silence, try asking the question again in a new way. Use different language. Try a different type of question. Perhaps ask your child to demonstrate their understanding or communicate their thoughts and ideas in a non-verbal way. Many people (myself included) communicate through writing. Other children may do better expressing thoughts and ideas through pictures. Be ready to try a variety of strategies.
Know that with ALL children, there will be days that despite your best efforts and varied instruction, they will just be in a “mood” and will not be “present” in your classroom. Accept those days along with the good ones, and plan to circle back to any information on another day.
I added the words “and hamsters” to this section, as there was one student in one of my kindergarten classes who, no matter what we were discussing, always raised his hand to make a comment about his pet hamster. Expect it. Be ready for the occasional “bunny trail” and have a strategy in place to get things back on track.
During my time as a classroom teacher, timing was perhaps my greatest challenge. Due to short attention spans, lack of interest, distraction, or on the other hand, intense interest and discussion, things rarely go as planned. What we anticipate will take an hour, often takes 20 minutes, leaving us with down time and time to fill.
My advice? OVER-PLAN. It’s always better to prepare too much material, than be left without enough books, activities, or assignments to fill your time. Just like in the classroom, your children will know when you are not prepared. Prepare in advance. Plan too much. You can always get to things you don’t accomplish or finish on another day.
In another post, I will be talking about HOW to plan your curriculum. I plan using a structure rather than a schedule. More about that later! (It’s WAY too much to talk about in this post!)
I LOVE to talk homeschool. Is there something you’d like to know more about? Just contact me and let me know! In the meantime, check out a few of my favorite homeschooling posts: