The kids are officially back to school, and in many cases, that means staying home with Mom or Dad teaching. States that require an application to homeschool have seen an increase of 21-75% in 2020, and anecdotally, 2020 seems to be breaking all previous records for parents trying out homeschooling for the first time.
If you’ve decided to give homeschooling a go this year, you might have run into these challenges that many first-time homeschoolers face. Here are solutions to 3 of the most common struggles plaguing new homeschool parents.
Problem #1: Your child doesn’t want to “do school.”
The Solution: If you weren’t doing school over the summer, your child isn’t in the habit of spending time on schoolwork each day. Your goal for the first few weeks of school is simply to build the habit of schoolwork being done at the same time each day. Remember that elementary school teachers also use the first week or two of the school year to get students acclimated to the classroom setting, rules, and expectations. It’s normal for students to take time to adjust!
Once your child is used to the new routine, it won’t occur to her to question it. Even if you only do school for 15 minutes a day the first week or two, just focus on setting the expectation that you’ll be doing school every day. It’ll be an established habit before you know it.
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Problem #2: You can’t keep straight what needs to get done each day.
The Solution: Use a basic spiral notebook to make a checklist of the next day’s assignments each night. This brilliantly simply method comes from homeschooling queen Sarah Mackenzie of Read Aloud Revival. You can see the day’s work at a glance, and it’s incredibly motivating for both you and your child to check off assignments as each one is finished! On top of that, by looking over the lessons the night before, you can prepare any materials you might need instead of scrambling to get things together at lesson time. You might also use the notebook to keep a running list of books your child has read, or a brief personal log of what’s working and what isn’t in your days.
Problem #3: Your child is deeply engaged in play and doesn’t want to stop for school.
The Solution: If your kids are young, you might face this situation with conflicted feelings. On one hand, play itself is real and important learning. On the other hand, after age 6 or so, play isn’t the only way kids need to learn. You don’t want to interrupt meaningful play, but schoolwork needs to be done. What to do?
Depending on your child’s age, your schedule, what schoolwork needs to be done, and other factors, you have two choices. One option is to let your child keep playing a few more minutes and save school for later. This approach works if you don’t have much that needs to get done, or your schedule is open and you know you’ll have time later. Flexibility in scheduling is one of the great things about homeschooling. (My family has even been known to finish schoolwork on a Saturday morning.)
Another option, which has been a big success in our home, is to invite the toys to come to school. Our Batman and Robin figures love hearing my first grader read stories to them, and he’s so much more motivated to finish math equations when they’re presented as riddles from the Joker that have to be solved to save Gotham City. Inviting the toys into the school lessons sweetens the sting of being pulled away from playing. Give it a try!
What are your best solutions to common homeschooling struggles?
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