Whether you are homeschooling one child or a number of them, it is important for the homeschooling parent/teacher to use her time and her children's time wisely. There are some basic principles that will help make the homeschool experience a more successful and productive one.
1. Have a designated place where teaching takes place and a separate space where your student(s) can do independent work.
2. Get caller-ID and an answering machine so that you can decide which calls to take and those to ignore.
3. If you are interrupted, have your students be prepared to switch to "independent work" until you are ready to resume working with them. These could include: reading, musical instrument practice, finishing up a previous assignment, or going ahead in the lesson independently. Being prepared for these inevitable times (e.g., having to schedule a repair visit for an impaired washing machine) makes it so your student is not sitting idly waiting for your return.
4. When you are driving to sport activities or doctor's appointments, have a tape or CD series that you listen to only in the car. (We've listened to history tapes, biographies, and sermons while driving on short and extended trips at what I call our auto university.) You can also use car trips to have your student read aloud and discuss a lesson or assignment.
5. Make use of the various activities of the family and turn them into educational lessons. Visits to the vet and pediatrician can give your students a chance to get questions answered and see how these professionals conduct their business. Make sure your students are always ready to "grab some reading material" for stints in the waiting room. Better to have them get some schoolwork done than just browse through mindless magazines.
6. Be ready to have to change plans on short notice. Sometimes a great opportunity will arise that requires you to alter your schedule for the day. A free ticket to a show or museum and/or an unexpected visit from a relative or family friend is a good reason to reschedule academics to later in the evening or the weekend.
Homeschooling is different than day school and some advance planning can allow for learning to take place in many ways and venues. I'm sure there are plenty of other sound practices that are implemented every day by home-schooling moms across the country. Feel free to share some.
- Andrea G. Schwartz
Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven Family, The Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your Household, Empowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom Service, Woman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, and Homeschooling Helps (weekly live Facebook event). She can be reached at [email protected].