Home Educator's Family Times - Home Education & Family Services - Homeschool Support Network

Homeschooling Together

by Shirley M.R. Minster M.S. Ed.

It is an honor to homeschool children and teenagers. They have a desire to learn, although it may be masked at times. What better place to learn than in the home environment? The person doing the teaching may be one or both parents, but it is becoming more common for grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to also be involved. Sometimes even an adult brother or sister undertakes the mentoring, too. Homeschooling means custom designing the childâs educational program to encompass interests, using materials that address areas of known weaknesses and strengths. It also means including time during the day for the student to independently and/or with the mentor explore interests and hobbies.

Beautiful music comes after hours of practice with one's instrument and studying lessons with a master instructor. It is not always pleasant spending time with your instrument, but the time spent working together with both the instrument and the master is worth it in the long run. The same holds true for teaching. Placing a workbook before a child and telling him to read the directions and complete the work will not give him the guidance he needs. The idea is instilled that it is busy work, not practical, honest study. A child is not self-directed in his studies when he simply works alone for large chunks of time. The teacher must be the mentor and guide the student in understanding and reinforcing concepts as well as showing how to apply in a practical way what is being studied. Sitting the student in front of a computer or television to watch someone else teach can be helpful, but is not as beneficial if there is no personal instruction or investigation together.

If your child is struggling with learning how to decode (to read) words, work with her so she will learn how to understand the written word. Sit beside her, read the material together, and discuss it. If there are comprehension questions to answer, read them together and answer them together. You are using a true tutorial approach by showing her how to interpret the questions and she has the added benefit of feeling encouragement, love, and undivided attention.

If Junior is reluctant to learn a new math concept, sit down with him and work out some examples with him, muttering the process to yourself so he can hear you working it out. ãNow, letâs see, I need to decide what number multiplied by 3 comes close to 16. 3 times 2 equals 6. No, there must be a higher number. 4 times 3 equals 12, 5 times 3 equals 15. Aha - thatâs it!ä and so forth. Your son will understand that math takes time and is a process. He may even find it delightful if he hears you make a mistake and he can correct the teacher!

Wholehearted, sacrificial time both in season and out is a prerequisite when you homeschool. Dedication to the task is a must. A funny thing, though... Most parents find they increasingly enjoy it as they spend more time with their children. The family becomes closer as they discover how much they love one another. A true benefit of homeschooling.

Shirley M.R. Minster is the director of Home Education & Family Services, and Royal Academy in Gray Maine. The full-time work of these organizations is to help homeschooling families succeed. If you have questions for Shirley, just send them to the Family Times.

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