Structure the School year
Now that you have begun your homeschooling schedule, there are various questions that trouble you. Should you study continuously, take a number of short breaks or a long vacation? What about public holidays? When should you take a break?
The answer to these questions and many more like these are actually quite simple: Do whatever suits you best. This is one of the appealing benefits of homeschooling. You do not have a set pattern to follow. You do not HAVE to take that autumn break, or close shop for a prolonged summer vacation. Flexibility is the key here. For some practiced unschoolers, even a definite curriculum is not necessary because lessons are a part of their day- to-day life. But this may not be the case with beginners. Beginners may need to chart out their activities to fall into a pattern.
Before you plan the structure of your classes, consider some of the most important issues. What method of homeschooling will you be following, what is your teaching style and your child’s learning style, what are the work and play schedules, what are your vacation plans. Some families plan small 1-week vacations at different times of the year. Other families prefer to go away for a month or more. Consult with the members of your family, and chart out a holiday schedule that most suits you.
There are some positive benefits in following the traditional summer vacation schedule. Firstly, your children can benefit from the various summer activities, camps and classes. Your child’s schedule will coincide with that of his school-going friends. A summer job may be possible. A longish summer break also means that both parents as well as children get a break from their daily lessons. This could also be a major drawback, as it is sometimes difficult to get back on track once the classes resume.
On the other hand, there are some advantages to taking numerous small breaks in the course of a year. Firstly, children do not get bored since they get time to explore other interests. You can cover more topics in the extra time that you save. You can also take family trips and vacations during the less popular periods of travel. This means lesser crowd and better prices. But beware if your child becomes restless when other children are enjoying their long summer vacations.
As far as homeschooling is concerned, you and your family are the people in charge. Taking care of the individual needs of the child is the primary focus of this system. So, tailor the school year to suit your child’s needs. Periodic evaluation is a must. Set some realistic goals and see if you are able to achieve these goals. Most importantly, avoid burnout – both in yourself and your children.
Social concerns of homeschooling
Social skills is an area of deep concern when it comes to homeschooling. Many critics point out that since man needs to hone his social skills, a homeschooling environment where social interaction is limited is detrimental to his growth and development. But studies have proved this wrong.
Children put into the fiercely competitive school environments lack the confidence to hold a conversation. Such children show little genuine interest in the topic of conversation and don’t know how to interact with people of various age groups, especially their elders.
Children who learn at home are more aware of the implications and the purpose of their learning. They will ask intelligent questions and make accurate observations. Children begin their life by imitating their parents. Homeschooled children therefore pickup the sterling qualities they see in their parents. On the other hand, they are protected from the detrimental influences of their peers.
These children are thus better equipped with the tools necessary to face the world. The positive reinforcement that takes place in the homeschooling environment as opposed to being abandoned, embarrassed or ignored in a normal school environment strengthens their self-esteem. Children turn out to be better balanced andwell-rounded as they progress into adulthood.
Developed from the work of Dr. Maria Montessori, this style ofteaching aims at duplicating natural laws that a child faces in life. Thus the aim of the teacher is to control the environment and not the child. It was observed that children who are left free to interact with their environment developed an innate self-discipline, love for order and natural curiosity.
The Montessori method of teaching is especially suitable to the preschooler who wants to do everything by himself. Finding ways in which your child can participate in the cleaning, washing, cooking, gardening and other ‘adult’ activities sets the perfect backdrop for the learning experience. By providing such opportunities for independence, the child’s self-esteem also gets a huge boost.
Artistic, cultural and scientific activities abound in the Montessori 3-6 class. There is no TV, junk food, or computer. Material is selected carefully. The child is never forced to work. Instead he is encouraged to do things that interest him, and the teacher picks up the teaching from cues given by the child. The Montessori method focuses on the child’s inborn ability to learn from his surroundings. Thus the teacher aims to encourage the natural curiosity of the child. He is never forced to learn or explore. When the child understands why he needs to learn something, he will love the learning process.