Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Homeschooling Words of Wisdom & Encouragement

As this year comes to an end for most of you, I wanted to share some advice that was given to me by a fellow homeschool mom when I was struggling through our first year of homeschooling high school.  I'm a worrier and have had a seriously hard time adjusting to the rigorous amount of work involved in homeschooling my 9th grader.  Thankfully I reached out to some fellow homeschool moms in my tiny Catholic homeschool group and received these words of wisdom.  I am sharing them with you with her permission.

1 - Prayer. Pray alone, together, and as a family.

2 - Family Unity. Enlist your husband's support to back you up emotionally and practically, if possible. Have him help strategize accountability.

3 - Consistency. Be consistent with expectations and consequences. If it is a situation where respect isn't being given, address that issue. If it's underperforming academically, set benchmarks and enforce them.

4 - Communication. Discuss the situation with your child and strategize ways to resolve disconnects. Chances are that not only you are unhappy about the way things are going, but they are as well. They should have a vested interest in helping to solve these challenges with you.

5 - Listen. Listen to God speaking to you through your heart, your intellect, your husband, and others. Then take steps that will best fit your family's unique challenges. For me, it meant choosing a subject a child loved (acting) and immersing her in set design and acting classes for high school credit (which also motivated her to work harder to complete other work so she could pursue her passion). For another, it meant looking beyond the skipping of lessons/ missed class work to determine that child was bored and needed a more engaging way to learn math beyond textbook (it ended with a math tutor for one and online for another). 

6 - Think Outside the Box. If every subject is simply read a chapter and test, that would bore most people. Skip every other chapter test and find another way to pursue learning of those concepts. Write a report on a related project. Cook a meal from a country you are studying. Have them prepare a 4 week exercise routine for you and their siblings to do with them. Watch a documentary and prepare a paper on 10 things learned from that documentary. Research and draw medieval costumes in history. Write a poem about a book they read. Design a PowerPoint presentation about types of mammals in Biology. Pre establish a grading rubric (x points for neatness, x for creativity, x for grammar, x for content, x for using MLA or APA format, etc.), then use these types of projects to break up the testing monotony, and provide other ways to earn grades that aren't solely based on traditional tests.

7 - Keep Goals in Sight. Determine if your goal is college preparatory or not. Do you want to take advantage of free community college classes by grade 11 (only books have to be bought)? If so, make sure they are focusing on those subjects that will best prepare them for their future environment. Reading, writing, and math skills must be strong before entering community college, and a solid science foundation is important as well.

These are some things that come to mind. It's a huge challenge to be seeking ways to challenge and encourage your kids spiritually, academically, emotionally, and socially. 9th grade was a big challenge year for me with my firstborn daughter, 8th and 10th for my son.... Quite honestly, it was prayer, communication, and the support of my husband that got me through it. 

Hang in there, and do what you can to take a step back and re group with your child so that your relationship can grow in a positive way, and you can work together to find ways to make these high school years successful and rewarding for both of you.