Think you want to homeschool your gradeschooler? You’re not alone. A lot of us have our reasons for doing so these days.
Yet after you move past your “A-ha!” moment and decide to teach your kid(s) at home full-time, it’s helpful to identify and nurture certain attitudes and behaviors that will help you succeed from the get-go:
• Demonstrate a love of learning daily– Eager to explore (not necessarily embrace) new ideas? Do you draw satisfaction from acquiring a new skill? Is your home stocked with books, either purchased of borrowed? Do you use the Internet for things other than shopping or checking out those goofy cat photos? If you want your kids to learn in from you, then you have to model an appreciation for learning in general.
• Develop and maintain a flexible routine – Here I part company with hardcore parents who keep a tight 8-to-5 school schedule. This may be fine for other households, but it won’t work for us. Strict, hard-and-fast routines make me jumpy, and yet if I don’t have some sort of vision for the week ahead–and some sort of structure to keep me from over-extending myself, I quickly get lost in the weeds. For us, the sanest path is a middle one. Learning to keep a “rhythm” to our week allows teacher and parent to seize unforeseen opportunities. If this sounds most natural to you, then be on the lookout for ways to embrace learning opportunities as they pop up. For instance, maybe a sudden thunderstorm appears, allowing you to segue into a discussion about cloud formations. Or perhaps a health matter comes up that must be attended, giving your kids some “downtime” to catch up on reading or writing for pleasure.
• Keep your sense of humor – Even ardently secular homeschoolers can appreciate this old Yiddish saying: “Man plans. God laughs.” Experiments go wrong. That perfect curriculum turns out to be lackluster. Rather than collapse in frustration, laugh with the universe and keep moving. You’ll take your sanity with you on the journey.
• Embrace improvisation – In the theatrical world, the art of improvisation rests on a willingness of all parties to say “yes” to the action on stage. Of course, with kids… well, sometimes they are more keen to say “no.” When you meet with resistance, suppress the urge to throw up your hands and walk away. Instead, look for ways to get everyone back on track with the ultimate goal. This may mean switching temporarily from worksheets to card games to learn math. Or it may mean checking out a couple of Pokémon books rather than reading a richly illustrated copy of the Brothers Grimm. As long as they’re reading material suitable for their age, it counts as reading practice.