- Create a homeschool room that contains all the necessary materials for each child. It may help if each child has a shelf or cubbie for his or her materials.
- Include folders for each subject. Completed work can be put in one pocket while work in progress is in the other.
- Create a portfolio for each student to store papers on a long-term basis. You can use a crate with colored hanging folders to match that student’s color. Identify a specific location for papers that need to be sent in with a test to the Advisory Teaching Service.
- Give children the responsibility of cleaning up the room at the end of the day and putting materials away so they are ready for the next day.
- Use a calendar to note daily assignments, due dates, and other key information.
- Create a quiet, private work cubical using an old cardboard box. Large boxes can be cut and folded for this purpose. An alternate location in another room may help an independent worker.
- Review lesson plans the night before or a few days ahead when children are not around. Reflect on what strategies are working or not working to choose strategies for the next day. Be sure to gather any necessary materials that are not stored in the school room.
- Make specific plans, but allow for flexibility. Review the lesson to see which items can be done independently, which items should be done orally with you, or which items may be done with another student.
Homeschooling More than One Child
- If homeschooling more than one child, create a schedule that works for all of your children: If one child is an early riser, use the time before the others are awake to do some instruction with that student. He or she can save the independent work to be done while you are working with other children.
- Tailor the schedule as needed. If one student is strong in a particular subject, schedule that subject for the same time as a difficult subject for another student. This allows you more time with the student who needs it. In the Lesson Manual, highlight the subjects with different colors and place a chart in the room with the order for the day or simply order the subjects with numbers.
- Encourage students in Sixth Grade and above to follow their own schedule. They should continue to the next subject if they do not have questions about their work. They should organize their work so you can grade it at the end of the day, when you have time.
- Schedule time each day for individual time with each student as needed. Other students should not interrupt during the time block unless it is an emergency.
- Some families prefer to start their older students first, and as they begin independent assignments, the parent starts working with the younger students.
- Delegate chores around the home. Use a calendar to track each person’s responsibilities. Children should help with these chores. Assign chores based on who is capable of completing the task without assistance from an adult. While some children are doing chores, you can have individual time with other students.
- Use older students as peer tutors. The older students can help the younger students with their work. They can check math problems, read to the student, or help practice flash cards or spelling words. Children of many ages can help a sibling study for a test using flash cards. Younger students may have strengths in different areas and could help an older student if they are particularly talented at a certain subject.
Tips for an Effective School Day:
- Begin each school day with a brief, consistent opening exercise. This could be a song, poem, a quote, the pledge, or even a review of the day’s calendar.
- Establish classroom rules early and stick to them! For example, if you are teaching multiple children, having students raise their hands instead of calling out can be very useful.
- When developing the daily schedule, include regular breaks. Breaks should be five to ten minutes. Students should get up, use the bathroom, and get a snack if necessary. The schedule and length of breaks will depend on the age of students and individual learning styles. Breaks are not a good time to watch television, play video games, or any other activity that will make returning to work difficult.
- If students are taking a long time to accomplish their assigned lessons, allow them to answer some problems orally. Use your judgment.
- Keep outside interruptions to a minimum. Turn off phones, do not schedule appointments, and ask that you not have visitors during school hours. Save these items for nonschool hours.
- Have weekly round-up on Fridays. Allow students to share their ideas about the week. Each child may pick a piece of work to display during the coming week to show their accomplishments. If you keep a portfolio of your child’s work, perhaps she can choose one piece weekly to include in addition to the papers you choose.
- Create a signal for students to utilize when they need help. Some families use a “paper cup” system. At the beginning of the session, each student places a paper cup in front of him. If, while working independently, he discovers that he needs assistance, he simply inverts the paper cup as a signal to the parent, then goes on to something else he can do independently until the parent is available.
- Create a “Fun Box” for students to use when they are stuck or waiting for their turn with the parent. This box can be filled with fun, educational activities, such as Sudoku puzzles, word searches, or other activities that would occupy the child until you can work with him. These items should be used only during the school day while a student is waiting for help. The items in this box should be changed frequently to keep them fresh and interesting for the student. Such boxes could also be created for non-school-age children who are in the home. Their box may include coloring pages that relate to older student’s curriculum, puzzles, play dough, books, and other activities that will keep them quiet while older students are working.
“Presence is an inner strength you naturally project if you are focused, poised, and aware of what is happening in your immediate environment. When you have presence, your children can feel it whenever they are around you, and your presence helps them maintain their focus.”
-Lawrence Williams, Ed.D.
Homeschooling Study Skills
Before reading new material, have your student do the following (work alongside with a younger student):
- Read all of the headings and subheadings—these will give a heads-up on what the student will be reading about.
- Pay attention to any information that is in bold print—this means the material is important.
- Highlight the main ideas and definitions in the text using a highlighter.
- Have the student give you a summary of the main points after each section or page of material is read.
- With an older student (grades 4–8), have the student make flash cards for new vocabulary, important events, and important people they read about. Put the word on one side of the card and a definition on the back. These cards can be used daily for review.
- Use color coding to help the student organize/categorize material. A variety of colored pencils, markers, or sticky notes help your student categorize and retain information learned.
- Use online resources such as math and grammar games to reinforce learning.
- Use pictures, graphs, webs, timelines, etc. as aids to help a visual learner study new material.
- Have the student review the material orally as he writes it down.
You will find that some of these tips work better than others for the individual student. Make sure that you mix things up from time to time.