One of the greatest advantages of homeschooling your children is the freedom you have to try different things. However, sometimes new homeschoolers are too rigid, and they attempt to operate as if they were in a regular school system. I urge you to take advantage of this freedom and be flexible. Here are three areas to experiment with: time, setting, and what I like to call basics plus.
Since you are teaching from home, you have every day for an entire year to have school. You are not restricted to a set time Monday through Friday for thirty-six weeks. Your state can tell you that your children have to be in school a certain number of days each year, but they cannot tell which days those are. If, like me, you live in the South and want the kids to experience New England in the fall, you can schedule a vacation for October in Vermont. Not only will it be enjoyable for all of you, but it will also be educational. The time of day for schooling can also be varied. Have you ever tried to schedule a doctor appointment for a time when school was not in session? You can now! How about that borderline ADHD seven-year- old who cannot sit still for long hours? Take a break and go to the park for an hour. We did with our son. Use your time in ways that suit your family’s needs and desires.
Another area where you have great flexibility is in your setting. School does not always have to be around the dining room table. Field trips are fun and give your children ample opportunity to learn something new. You don’t even have to leave home. You can teach a class in your backyard. It is an excellent setting for a nature class. If you have a garden, it’s even better. They can help you with planting and weeding. Learning how to work is something worthwhile. Just use your imagination. I am sure that you can think of hundreds of ideas for helping your children learn without spending all of your time in a formal setting.
We all know that we have to teach our kids the basic core classes, like reading, grammar, math, history, and science. The advantage of being a homeschooler is that you can teach so much more than just the basics. Schools are not allowed to teach morality, but you are. They don’t have the time or money to teach life skills. You can let your children sit with you and watch you pay the bills while you teach them about fiscal responsibility. One of my children’s history lessons required them to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner. That was during fourth grade for my son and sixth grade for my daughter. That brings up another point of flexibility: no two kids are exactly alike. You can teach them at their own pace. When my son, Seamus, finished his lessons, he always said, “I’m done. Can I go play?” Little sis, Jenna, asked, “Can I go on?” Consequently, she did the first four grades in two years. She isn’t any smarter than her brother, but she had a different attitude towards learning. It also helped that she was allowed to play quietly in the same room where he was being taught. She could read and write at the age of three because she was listening and watching us teach him. Once a child learns to read and write, your teaching time is freed up to explore other subjects.
You have a wonderful and exciting opportunity to do so much more for your children with homeschooling. Do not be afraid to take chances. Be flexible with your time. Change your classroom settings. And by all means, add topics to your children’s curriculum. They will be better off for it.