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5 Tips for Staying Connected with Your Children When You’re Busy

5 Tips for Staying Connected with Your Children When You’re Busy

We seem to be busier with work and other distractions in our lives than ever before, and that can make it challenging to stay connected with your children. Kids will inevitably gravitate towards whatever has the biggest influence in their lives. If you do not forge a strong connection with your children, they will look to create a strong connection with something else. That other strong connection can have a bad effect, whether it is the poor influence of bad friends or the debilitating effects of spending too much time with technology.

But how can you forge a strong connection with your children when you are busy? Fortunately, you don’t need to plan some overpriced and annoying trip to Disney World to stay connected. Here are some easy ways to show how much you value your kid.

Turn off the Car Radio and other distractions

If you commute a lot, you almost certainly listen to the radio or a podcast. And you may continue to do that out of habit if you are driving your child to soccer practice or school.

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But those fifteen minutes you spend driving can be a valuable time to connect with your child. Ask them what they think about where you are taking them, how their day is going, or whatever comes to your mind.

It should be noted that the quality of the time spent with your kids matters more than just the sheer number of minutes. But even a few minutes in the car is a good place to start connecting as you try to make time for other, better activities.

Eat Together

Families are eating together less than ever, and The Atlantic states that “the majority of American families report eating a single meal together less than five days a week. For most of human history, sitting down and breaking bread was an opportunity for people to get together and discuss everyday things together. The Atlantic notes that children who eat with their parents are healthier, have better grades, and are more likely to avoid drug or alcohol problems.

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You may be too busy to eat a huge meal with your child every day, but even a light lunch and conservation is a good way for you to find out about what your child is doing. If you have a bit more time on weekends, try cooking something with your child that he likes such as cookies or pancakes. Cooking is always a useful skill to teach, and you should enjoy having those few hours to try something new with your child.

Give Gifts

We may buy gifts for our children on birthdays and Christmas, but you can also buy small gifts for your children at another time. The act of giving in and of itself shows the child that you really care about them.

What sort of gift should you buy? I would avoid toys or anything expensive because you do not want to spoil them. Look for something which they may be interested in, such as a baseball cap or some nice decorations. If they don’t like the gift, try not to feel disappointed or angry, but talk with them about how maybe you can get them something they will like if you can spend better time with them.

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Share secrets and life lessons

Children like to think that parents are perfect, but we are not and should not pretend to be. Sharing life lessons or talking about past mistakes will make you more relatable to your child and teach them that it is okay not to be perfect. Furthermore, your child can take your life lessons to heart and hopefully avoid making the same mistakes that you did.

Such lessons and intimacy can be built over shared activities you do with your children. Try taking them out on an excursion, like a fishing trip, which can be really exciting, especially for a child. Places like Ultimate Fishing Charters makes the process easy, even if you don’t have a boat.

However, I would stress that when you talk about mistakes, talk about mistakes you made when you were their age instead of ongoing troubles. You should not burden a child with the troubles of adulthood.

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Do NOT be their friend

In all the time that I have spent dealing with children, this is the most important thing I was taught. Obviously, you should treat your child with kindness and respect, understand what they are interested in, and play with them. But you are a parent and they are a child. And children do need to understand that they sometimes have to listen to what their parent says. As Psychology Today notes, “a parent who desires to be a friend to their child is going to have a much harder time holding a child accountable.”

Balancing the desire to treat your child well while making it clear that they do have to listen to you is one of the biggest challenges in raising a child. But while you should listen to your child and be kind to them, understand the importance of setting limits and do not be afraid of grounding or punishing them.

Featured photo credit: Jako Jellema via flickr.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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