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3 Important Lessons I Learned From My Students

3 Important Lessons I Learned From My Students

Every teacher knows that they are, many times, the ones who learn from their students.

I am no different. Yes, I educate students about course content, and I do it quite well. I have taught public school for about a decade and a half. I have had the privilege of teaching students of all ages throughout my teaching career. I must say that I have always enjoyed teaching — every level has its special qualities. However, I have become the learner many days in my classroom. Simply by observing my students and the way I interact with them, I ended up learning many lessons. The following are my top three. I feel that they are lessons that all parents should take note of.

1. Listen.

There are a lot of things that take our attention away from our children — texts from co-workers, family issues, answering e-mails, work that you have to take home, and wanting some time to just sit down and watch a TV show for a bit of downtime after a long day. However, your children are begging to be listened to.

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No matter how outlandish, silly, or absurd the story is, just listen. They tell their teachers all kinds of stories, from the mundane to the just plain weird. What do they really want? For anyone, especially their parents, to listen!

Children, even seniors in high school, need to feel as though they are being heard; that their words are important. It helps their self esteem, it allows them to make real connections, and it helps them to learn how to interact with others. In a world where many of them simply communicate electronically, nothing replaces real world connections of the heart.

2. Accept them for who they are.

Children often go through many, and I mean many, phases and stages. They may have one group of friends at the beginning of school and a totally different group of friends by Christmas break. They are merely trying to figure out where they fit in and who they are. Parents are often too quick to judge sometimes — myself included, I will admit. What they really need is for us to just sit back and watch their transformations into what will be something wonderful.

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They need the support of those who really matter — their parents. Teachers will treat them the same no matter what stage in life they are in, supporting them and encouraging them. After all, that is what teachers do. As parents, we often wear our hearts on our sleeve. Our emotions run high because it is our child that is involved, and ultimately our baby out there.

I have found that if you simply take a step back and encourage them, more than likely they will end up making the right decision. After all, you taught them well as their parent.

3. Be there.

Again, our lives are hectic. We work all day, have to shuttle kids to practice, need to make dinner of some sort, run errands, and a host of other things before bed time — it’s no wonder high blood pressure is a norm. But, what your kids need from you is to just focus on them when you are with them. Put down the phone, ignore the text, don’t reply to that e-mail, and call that person back in an hour or so. Better yet, it can wait until after they are in bed! Teachers have learned that children simply need an adult to be the adult — to hug them, help them with the schoolwork, help them work through peer problems, and sometimes to just talk.

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Parents would do well to just focus on the child when they are with them. As a parent, our time with our children is fleeting. As the mom of a sophomore in college and a sophomore in high school, the time flies by.

Even if all you have are those brief moments in the car going from here to there, turn off the radio and talk. Talk about their day, talk about important issues, talk about things you want to pass on to them. Not to get too deep, but we are never promised tomorrow. Talk to your child as if today is the last day you will have with them. Look into their eyes, hold their hands, hug them tight, and let them know that there is no one else in this whole world you would rather be with than them.

Teachers know that they are doing everything they can to teach your child what he or she needs to know to be successful.

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Parents, too, need to remember that they are doing a great job. After all, parenting is the toughest but most rewarding job in the world!

For more thoughts on talking and listening to your child, read this.

Featured photo credit: Caught Reading/John Morgan via albumarium.com

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Published on November 7, 2018

How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

In 2016, it was estimated that 1.7 million children were being homeschooled in the U.S, roughly 3.3% of all school-aged children.[1] Although this may not sound like a big portion of the population, the growth rate of homeschooling has been 7 to15% per year for the last two decades.

The burgeoning numbers are not a coincidence. There are tremendous benefits to homeschooling, including one-on-one teaching, adaptability to individual needs and learning styles, a safe learning environment, encouraging learning for knowledge rather than grades, and tailoring a curriculum to the child’s interests.

Is homeschooling something that you have been considering for your family? With all of the tools and resources available for homeschoolers in the 21st century, it may be easier than you think.

How to Homeschool (Getting Started)

After thinking it through, you’ve decided that homeschooling is the right step for you and your family. Now what? Here are the first things you should do to get your homeschooling journey started on the right track.

Figure Out the Laws

Homeschooling is regulated by the state, not the federal government. The first step is to find the current and accurate legal requirements mandated by your state in order to educate your child legally.[2]

The regulations can vary widely, from strict guidelines to no guidelines at all. However, don’t be overwhelmed by the legal jargon. There are many resources and local communities for homeschooling families that can help you figure out the logistics.

Decide on an Approach

Every child’s needs are different. This is your chance to choose the homeschooling style or combination of styles that best fits your child’s learning style and interests. A brief description of seven different homeschooling methods are listed below.

Supplies/Resources

Often times, purchasing a homeschooling curriculum is done too early in the planning process, resulting in buyer’s remorse.

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A curriculum is not always needed for homeschooling, and other types of free or less structured resources are readily available.

Find a Community

Getting connected with a community of homeschoolers is one of the most important parts of building a successful and thriving homeschool environment for your kids.

Look for communities online for virtual support or a local group that you and your kids can interact with. Partnering with others fosters better socialization skills for the students and provides opportunities for field trips, classes, and outings that wouldn’t have otherwise been a part of the homeschooling experience.

7 Different Homeschooling Methods

1. School-At-Home

Also known as Traditional homeschool, School-At-Home uses essentially the same curriculum as the local private or public school but at home.

The lessons can be completed independently, but more commonly, they are administered by a parent or a teacher-facilitated online school.

  • Benefits: formal standards, wide selection of curricula, same pace as peers, short-term friendly
  • Drawbacks: expensive, inflexible, time consuming, parent can get easily burnt out
  • Resources: K12, Time4Learning, Abeka

2. Classical

One of the most popular homeschooling methods used, it borrows educational practices from Ancient Greece and Rome. Subject areas are studied chronologically so that students can understand the consequence of ideas over time.

Socratic dialogue fosters effective discussions and debate to achieve beyond mere comprehension. There is often a strong emphasis on Great Books[3] as well as Greek and Latin.

3. Unit Studies

Rather than breaking up education into subjects, unit studies approach each topic as a whole, studying it from the perspective of each subject area.

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For example, a unit study about animals could include reading books about animals, learning about the classification of animals, figuring out which animals live on which continents, etc. This method is often used as a technique in other more comprehensive educational methodologies.

  • Benefits: promotes thinking about concepts as a whole, not monotonous or redundant, student-directed, bolsters weaker subject areas, beneficial for teaching multi-age students
  • Drawbacks: incomplete, knowledge gaps, curriculum-dependent
  • Resources: Unit Study, Unit Studies, Unit Studies Made Easy, Konos

4. Charlotte Mason

This Christian homeschooling style utilizes shorts periods of study (15-20 minute max for elementary, 45 minute max for high school), along with nature walks and history portfolios.

Students are encouraged to practice observation, memorization, and narration often. With a focus on “living books” (stories with heroes, life lessons, socio-ethical implications), reading plays a big role in this student-paced teaching style.

5. Montessori

Maria Montessori developed this method through working with special needs children in the early 20th century.

With a primary focus on the student setting the pace and indirect instruction from the teacher, this approach includes free movement, large unstructured time blocks (up to 3 hours), multi-grade classes, and individualized learning plans based on interests.

6. Unschooling

Unschooling is a learning model largely based on the work of John Holt.[4] The teaching style focuses mainly on the students’ interests, putting priority on experiential, activity-based, and learn as you go approaches.

For basic skills such as reading, writing, and math, a systematic technique is employed, but testing and evaluations are typically not utilized. Teachers, in general, play more of a facilitator role.

7. Eclectic/Relaxed

As the most popular method of homeschool, eclectic homeschooling is child-directed, resourceful, and non-curriculum based.

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Parents can sample any combination of homeschooling methods and styles or resources. One growing sector of eclectic homeschooling combines part homeschooling with part traditional schooling.

How to Facilitate Homeschooling with Technology

One of the reasons homeschooling is more feasible than ever before is due to the accessibility of tools and resources to enhance the learning process.

Email

Email is a tool that has really stood the test of time. Invented in 1972, it is still used today as a primary means of communicating on the Internet.

It is a great way to share assignments, links, and videos between parent and student.

Google Drive/Calendar

Google Drive offers a multitude of essential programs that can come in handy for homeschoolers, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.

With its sharing capabilities, easy accessibility, and auto-save ability, it’s easier than ever to organize and complete assignments. It will improve students’ writing and typing skills, as well as eliminate the need for paper.

Google Calendar is an excellent tool for tracking assignment due dates, planning field trips and activities, and developing time management skills.

Ebooks

Rather than invest in physical copies of books, ebooks are a wonderful option for saving money and space. There are plenty of places that offer a free or paid subscription to a wide selection of ebooks:

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E-Courses

When a structured curriculum is necessary for teaching a certain topic, an e-course is the way to go.

From watercolors to calculus, there are e-courses available about almost everything. Including different teaching styles that vary from the parents will encourage students to learn in different ways.

The visual and auditory stimulation will also be beneficial in helping students understand and retain the concepts being taught.

Some recommendations:

Youtube

Youtube is not just a platform for music videos and cats doing funny things. There are a number of Youtube channels that produce quality educational videos, free of charge.

Creating a playlist of videos for various topics is a great way to supplement a homeschool education.

Some recommendations:

Final Thoughts

Homeschooling in the current age looks much different than it did ten years ago. There are more options and more flexibility when it comes to educating kids at home.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of homeschooling your children if it could make a positive impact on your family.

Featured photo credit: Hal Gatewood via unsplash.com

Reference

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