This blog is for those of you that find yourself homeschooling for the first time. As a former alternative school principal, former professor of education, teacher and parent very involved in my own children’s schooling I have one central piece of advice for you,
Do not try and replicate your children’s public-school experience at home!
I have two reasons for saying this.
- You can’t do it! The public-school model was designed with the assumption trained teachers and lots of structural support would be available.
- Given your small “class” size, it’s not the best way for your children to learn.
While I have the utmost respect for public school teachers who do their best to teach in a way that honors each child’s individuality, with 20-30 kids in a class and standardized tests driving the focus on teaching to be test preparation. With a PhD. in Education, I also know the public-school model is far from the ideal way for children to learn.
People learn best when our learning is playful, interesting and meaningful. So please, don’t stress about your kids keeping up. Instead, relax and engage in fun activities with your kids where learning will happen naturally. And, do you know where learning happens most naturally? You got it, outside in nature. Those of us who are fortunate to live in a natural wonderland have an amazing learning resource right outside our front doors. Nature is a natural environment for natural learning!
So, go outside with your children and explore what is happening in your yard and around our nearby trails. Look for signs of spring: lots of plants are sprouting, see if you can identify them. Some trees have started to bud. There are butterflies, birds and insects to be identified. Download the “Seek” app for your phone (Seek is an app for families that identifies species through your phone camera) and/or use field guides or the many plant, animal and mushroom identification sites and groups on the internet.
And remember, while it’s natural to get tense in tense situations, it’s always more effective to relax. And right now, the most important thing in the world for your kids is for you to relax and have fun with them. What they most need to know is that they are safe at home with people that love them!