Most parents probably think they can’t be good homeschool teachers to their children because they don’t have any formal training as teachers. What they don’t realize is that anyone can become the best homeschool teacher to their children with resourcefulness, the right attitude, perseverance and lots of patience.
Homeschooling is not always the cheapest option to education, especially when you live in a country where there is a free public education system that is quite good. However, there are always instances when homeschooling might turn out to be the best option for you. Regardless of the reasons, where do you get the materials?
If you want to
homeschool your child according to the current educational standards followed in public schools, one of your options is to enrol your child in a homeschool
program that is tied up with a school. That way, you can get all the school materials and program from the school and simply make sure that your child accomplishes all the readings, paperwork and other exercises at home. Most school-based homeschool programs will also provide an occasional in-school meeting where your child will meet a teacher who will administer tests or check on the work accomplished.
If you choose not to enrol your child in a homeschool program, you can still find out the current educational standards by searching for them on the Internet, through public education boards or the Department of Education. Several Internet sites provide standards for education across all basic subjects taught in school. Most standards are defined in terms of skills that children should be able to demonstrate at specific age or grade levels. Referring to these standards helps you, as a parent, check to see if your child is achieving what is expected of other children of the same age.
Once you are aware of the standards and skills that your child needs to learn, you can go about the task of finding materials to help your child learn those skills. You can shop around in bookstores and pick out task books, workbooks, and other exercise and activity books designed for specific grade levels and skills. If you have a computer at your disposal, you can shop around for computer software that offer the same learning experiences but usually with a more interesting presentation. The advantage of using computer software is that it uses both visual and audio input and is highly interactive. Computer software also generally provide immediate feedback and your child knows whether his or her responses are correct or up to standards.
Another resource you can use, if you have access to the Internet, is the hundreds of websites that provide free materials, activities, lessons, and projects that teach the concepts and skills children are usually taught in school.
Besides using available technological resources, you can also take advantage of public libraries, art galleries and museums. Most libraries and museums have programs for children and many museums even have interactive displays that children can learn from. Don’t forget other places around town, such as the zoo, bookstores, parks, movie houses, and even your local market or grocery. Places around the community are excellent venues for children to learn the value of money and mathematical operations. They also offer excellent opportunities for discussion on myriad topics from biology in zoos and farms, to concepts such as entrepreneurship, service, time management, and other life skills that are often not emphasized enough in formal schooling.
The most important thing you should remember when you are homeschooling your child is that every situation is a learning opportunity. Need to teach counting, matching and progression? Use the kitchen utensils, measuring spoons and cups, dish sets. As children get older, get them into recipes and actual cooking and baking. Use the tools around the house, hardware, sheets, clothing. Make up songs and rhymes if you can’t find enough to suit your needs. As you get into the habit of taking advantage of every situation as a learning opportunity, you will find it easier to find materials or make them up yourself. A positive and optimistic attitude toward learning will rub off on your child as well, and before you know it, your child will be able to find his or her learning opportunities.
Sometimes, searching for just the right materials can be very frustrating, especially if you have something in mind and are fixated on it. There will always be something out there, whether on the Internet, public, or commercial establishments, that you will be able to use to teach your child. It takes a lot of perseverance finding things, especially on the Internet, and most especially if you want free stuff. Of course, it doesn’t help to be fixated on something that can easily be replaced by something else. If you can’t find stacking cubes, you can always get empty boxes of all sizes from the supermarket. A little imagination and flexibility can go a long way.
Finally, as a
homeschool teacher, you will need to remind yourself to be very patient. As parents, we are sometimes impatient with our children because we expect them to know things the way we know them. We need to remember that children do not see things from our perspective. Their minds will not always work the same way our minds work and the way they make connections between concepts and skills will not always be the way we expect them to. Sometimes we need to do things repeatedly and not see our children comprehending an idea or acquiring the skill we are trying to teach, then one day, they are suddenly able to demonstrate the skill or use the idea on their own. Many times, children need to process things in their minds and feel confident that they understand things or know what they are doing before they even attempt to use the knowledge or attempt a task. We can help them succeed more if we avoid being critical of their results and let them do things at their pace. We should keep on encouraging them to try new things, not make fun or blame them for failure, and let them understand that everyone makes mistakes, that no one is perfect. If they see you trying new things out with them and see you keep a positive attitude even if things don’t work out right the first time (or more), then they will be learning not only the concepts and skills that educational standards have defined, but they will be learning life skills and attitudes that will help them succeed in every situation they encounter through life.