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7 Secrets to Growing Happy and Productive Kids

7 Secrets to Growing Happy and Productive Kids

Many parents believe that raising their children to be happy is the holy grail of successful parenting. All too often, happiness is thought of in fleeting moments, rather than lasting happiness. This lasting happiness is not only more complicated, but also ultimately more rewarding. Believe it or not, it is possible to increase the chance that a child will be happy just by the way that they are raised.

What are the things that will make happy and productive kids grow up into happy and productive adults? It is a byproduct of their emotional health, shaping the child into developing their sense of optimism.

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1. Practice Gratitude

Feelings of gratitude are linked to emotional well-being. How would one foster gratitude in children? Many families find it effective to take the time in their day to share with everyone what they are thankful for. This can happen before, during, or after a family meal. The most important thing is to make it a ritual. This will help grow the child’s positive emotions, which will lead to long lasting happiness.

2. Teach them to Share

By encouraging the child to play nice, they will develop empathy for others. When they are very young, demonstrate the behavior you would expect from them. They might not understand the significance now, but this sort of model will reinforce the concept that sharing is something that is expected. When sharing experiences are made fun (like handing out biscuits for dinner), it can make a positive impact.

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3. Give Responsibilities

People have a natural need to be needed. The idea behind giving real responsibilities to children is to convey to them that they are making a unique contribution to their family. When this is nurtured from an earlier age, the child will feel more self-worth. Meaningful roles can be filled by children as young as three years old. For example, they may feed the family pets or help set the table for dinner. Aim to pinpoint the specific things (organization, nurturing, etc.) that make them happy, and choose similar roles for them to fill for the home.

4. Allow for Both Success and Failure

Simply put, children will not know the thrill of success unless they have been allowed to risk failure. As adults, we know that there are very few skills that are perfected on the first try. It is only through practice that mastery is achieved. When children experience repeated mastery, they will develop an attitude that is positive, setting the tone for them to approach challenges in the future with optimism and gusto that is essential for a happy life.

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5. Nurture Your Own Happiness

Children absorb everything from their parents, so their moods matter significantly. Happy parents have happy kids. One of the best things for your child’s happiness is to nurture your own. Take time doing the things you love. You can even rest and relax doing things you love, like listening to music. For example, you could lineup all of your favorite country songs on repeat. Nurture your own relationships, including the one with your spouse.

6. Praise the Right Things

Self-esteem is linked directly to happiness. When children only hear praise when they achieve something, they will be conditioned to think that this is how to make a parent happy. Only praising specific traits will also harm a child’s self-esteem later in life. Redirect this praise from the result to the effort. Praise the child’s creativity, persistence, and hard work rather than the achievement itself.

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7. Foster Connections

Help your child feel connected with friends, family, and neighbors. This will allow them to feel understood, loved, acknowledged, and wanted. Snuggle with them, laugh together, show empathy when they cry, and read to them aloud.

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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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