As home-educating parents, my husband and I are fortunate enough to tailor our children’s education to suit each of them individually. We made many mistakes along the way and must correct the course on a regular basis. Our journey is far from perfect. However, our relationship with the children is our motivation to continue.
I provided the first set of tips in part one. Here are more tips on how to make the most of home-based learning.
Repair and restart
There are days that start off bad and get progressively worse. On those days when nothing is going well, you need to implement a ritual that fixes whatever happened and starts the day over again with a clean slate.
When my children were young, I used the 10 a.m. snack time as an opportunity to stop, relax, and restart if that was needed. The snack break was a great way to make sure that we repaired the day quickly and did not wait too long.
Our ritual was the same every day and created structure and calm. I prepared a snack and called the children to the table. While they had their snack, I read a book to them. This was an opportunity for us to take a break and enjoy a good story. If the day was bumpy, we also talked about what happened and agreed to restart the day. Most of the time this worked, but over the years there were days when we had to agree to restart more than once. The children learned that a bad beginning can still have a good end.
Consider creating an activity that allows everyone to pause, calm down, and connect with ways to have fun. You could play a board game or have a dance party. Make it enjoyable.
You may have noticed that the younger your child is, the more they need your presence when they are completing their schoolwork. It does not mean that you need to sit next to them the whole time. You will need to regularly check on them. This applies to teenagers as well. They will need your physical presence less, but it is important to find out what they are doing and whether they need your support. If you leave a child on their own for long periods of time, chances are they will drift off and will not bring themselves back to task.
It may be difficult for you to be present when your own work is waiting. However, we should not expect children to sit and work for extended stretches of time without an adult present. You will need to put your own frustrations aside and give your children the attention they need. Once they have completed their work, you can focus on yours. Accept that this is difficult and requires great amounts of discipline from you. It helps if you make sure schoolwork is completed early enough for you and your children to have time to do other things as well.
If we are constantly expecting criticism from our spouse or parent, we will not feel positive or energized. I encourage you to cultivate a culture of appreciation in your home instead of a culture of complaint. Focus on what is going right instead of what is going wrong. Start noticing what your spouse, children, and you are doing right. It is a great way to motivate people. It also has a huge impact on the atmosphere at home.
Every time your child does something right, let them know you noticed. Use words! Do the same with your spouse and yourself. Mindfulness expert Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “As long as you are breathing there is more right with you than wrong with you, no matter what is wrong.” I believe that whatever is happening, your child, your spouse, and you are doing more things right than wrong in that given moment. All you need to do is notice and name them.
Focus on What is Important
If you notice that your child’s education is starting to erode either their love for learning or the love that the two of you feel for each other, it is time to stop and reflect. Cultivating a child’s love of learning will teach them to actively participate in their own education as well as make sure they will never stop growing and developing. Cultivating love in the family teaches your child that they deserve to be loved and treated with respect. This confidence and these relationship skills may not be covered in your children’s textbooks, but you can help them learn at home and that will allow them to flourish in life.