Face it. Homeschooling isn't easy. It's a balancing act between the teacher-parent and the student-child. Creating a learning space separate from home life can be a challenge. But for your family, the rewards of homeschooling far outweigh the inconveniences. Remember, you are qualified to teach your kids a homeschool curriculum, and organization is easy if you follow a few simple rules — even grading can be fun.
1. Understand the Role of Homeschool Teacher
The unique experience of homeschooling provides a customized experience for the family as a whole — sometimes in harmony and sometimes disunity. It can be tricky when lines blur and roles overlap. Parents are expected to be the authority figure, the mentor and the educator; and when learning happens within the home, expectations must be clearly defined. If not, success with homeschool curriculum may suffer. Sound familiar?
While this dynamic is complicated, it sets the stage for deep growth and understanding in two ways: It allows you to understand your children's needs as students in ways you would not through traditional schooling. You are also given the tools to strengthen and diversify the bond you have with your children by taking on the role of homeschool teacher.
It's important to establish boundaries. Don't be afraid to experiment with techniques based on learning interests and goals. And don't discredit your abilities. Studies have found teacher certification (or lack thereof) does not affect academic achievement for the homeschool student.
2. Grade as a Homeschool Teacher, Not Parent
Did you know a home-educated child will typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests?
Grading in homeschool is critical to assessing progress without allowing parental emotions to enter the equation. Put on your teacher hat, and continue to help your students master their homeschool curriculum, as this is more important than any numerical grade they will receive.
Work on building trust with your children as students, so they understand when you are the educator and when you are "mom" or "dad." Classroom rules should be laid out separately from rules of the house.
3. Explore Your Child's Learning Style
One major indicator of homeschooling success is developing a curriculum to match learning style. If you don't know how your students learn, explore different methods, and see what sticks. Most students naturally lean towards one of the four main styles, but some are able to work easily within all of them. Understanding how your student retains information gives you the keys to a well-matched delivery.
By first identifying strengths, you will not only be able to cultivate a well-rounded classroom structure, but you will also be able to plan activities to help strengthen problem areas. Taking advantage of trial-and-error using a variety of approaches can be the difference between a good report card and a bad one.
One of the perks of homeschooling is having the freedom to design your own program. But do your research first. An optimized classroom requires a well-thought out plan.
4. Establish a Rewards System
Because homeschooling doesn't necessarily rely on grades as competitively as traditional schooling, establishing a rewards system is a positive motivator. Without the restrictions public schools face, homeschools can determine guidelines relating to both discipline and grades.
Reward systems are relevant to age. Younger students respond well to tokens and prizes. Older students are motivated by experiences, like field trips and family outings. If your kid is hooked on YouTube, reward them with these (parent-approved) channels. Rewards systems can be based on behavior or academics, try both. When the student is in control of their own fate, independence and autonomy become inherent traits.
5. Keep a Homeschool Planner, Stay Organized
Getting organized is critical to homeschooling success — after you overcome the initial emotional and mental hurdles of transitioning from parent to educator, of course. At the beginning of each school year, buy a daily planner for you as the teacher and for your child as the student. Organizing classes within a structured environment helps your child feel more relaxed and allows you both to keep track of goals and progress. Write everything down. Keep space only for school. And record accurate, current and detailed records of everything you have studied with your child to guarantee your hard work won't go to waste.
The Bottom Line: You've Got This
You are qualified. You are capable. And you are empowered. Use these tips as a framework for your own homeschool. Modify for your curriculum. Personalize for your classroom. And keep records with confidence. Make the transition to college easier with accurate gradebooks for easy translation to a homeschool high school transcipt.