As my oldest enters middle school I am realizing the importance of teaching her good study habits. So far this has consisted of telling her to “go study for your test”. That is the same thing I was told as a child. It didn’t work out to well for me…. AND based on her last history grade it’s not working out that great for her either.
It wasn’t until my first year of college that I was really taught HOW to study. I was taking a course called “College 101”. They taught us the basics, things like balancing a checkbook, getting along with a roommate, and how to study. That class laid a foundation for me that helped me succeed in college. The professor gave me tools to help me fully understand what was important.
So, why was I just telling my daughter to “go study” instead of showing her the tools she needed? I think too often times we assume kids KNOW how to study. I mean, for the most part, it should be common sense, right? That’s what my parents and high school teachers thought. And for some it is.
But for other kids they truly NEED someone to come alongside them and SHOW them HOW to obtain good study habits. As a homeschool parent, the person responsible for teaching your child good study habits is you. And, we need to do it BEFORE they are in high school.
What Are Good Study Habits?
So, what are good study habits? Study habits are the behaviors used when preparing for tests or learning academic material. What study habits does our homeschool children need to know to succeed in middle and high school? Things like how to take notes, get organized, and research and skim material are important for our homeschool children to know. Yet, too often times we don’t teach them how to do it
Yes, even homeschoolers who may not be in a typical “teacher lecture” environment can learn to take notes. If you use videos in your homeschool, a student can learn to take notes. Things like documentaries, preachers in church services, speakers at a field trip or co-op, are all great opportunities for learning to take notes. Teach them how to identify key phrases, vocabulary words, facts, and main ideas in a speech. This will prepare them for the day when they may sit in a more “teacher lecture” environment.
Learning How to Skim Material
Learning how to skim material is an essential skill for faster study. Instruct your students to pay attentinon to the first and last sentence in a paragraph. These are usually where the essential information is hiding. Also, note bold words and end of the chapter summaries. Teach your children how to selectively highlight imporatn passages for easier study later.One of the most important studying skills your child will learn is how to narrow down what’s important and what isn’t.
How to Get Organized
Many adults struggle with organization, so it is easy to understand how our children can too. Purchasing your homeschool child a planner can help with this. They can write down assignments, appointments, and to-do lists. Encourage your child to review items in the planner at both the beginning and end of the day to stay on track. Also, keep all schoolwork in one place. This eliminates the need to look all over the house for a textbook or assignment.
Teach your children to review information often! Each day before they start a new lesson, encourage your student to read over each day’s previous lesson and information. This should consist of simply reading his or her notes and paying close attention to them. Doing this will help them remember the information simply by seeing it over and over again.
Create a Study Schedule
Studying should be part of your student’s daily homeschool routine, not something he or she tries to cram in the night before a test. It may be helpful to have a study time planned for the whole family. This gets younger children in the habit of studying now, and allows the older children time to study in a quiet environment. For us, we have made this time a part of our evening routine.
Misty Bailey is a work at home homeschool mom. She loves helping new homeschoolers and has a Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.
How is your school year going? Are you on task? A little behind? Or ahead of schedule? If you are behind, or not sure where you are then you may be contemplating taking a short Holiday break, or not taking one at all.
In reality though, a holiday break is crucial to homeschool success. This may surprise you, but it is true! I encourage you to take a holiday break from homeschooling, for your sanity, and the kids!
Why Take a Holiday Break?
Holiday breaks give you much needed time to break away from school and just be a family. Not a student, teacher, or principal.
Holiday breaks give your kids time to refresh, regroup, and play!
Holiday breaks give you time to catch up on things that may otherwise go untended to…. (like housework!).
Holiday breaks give you time to focus on the meaning of the holiday you are celebrating.
Holiday breaks give you time to visit with family and loved ones.
Holiday breaks allow you time to catch up on the kid’s portfolios that you may have been neglecting…
Holiday breaks allow you to assess what is working, and what is not in your homeschool.
Holiday breaks are a natural way to separate the year into semesters.
What are Holiday Breaks Not?
Holiday breaks are NOT the time to drill your kids on what they have learned this year.
Holiday breaks are not the time to assign book reports on what they learned over Christmas break…
Holiday breaks are not the time to assign documentaries.
Holiday breaks are not the time to drill how students in other cultures celebrate Christmas!
Holiday breaks are a time to sit, refresh, and enjoy your time together as a family. There is no greater time to relax than over the holidays. And, realistically, the holiday season is busy enough without trying to fit in school.
So, take a holiday break and go shopping during school hours. Many families take off from Thanksgiving until the first of the year and just focus on Language Arts and Math. Some, do a simple study on cultures and Christmas. Whatever you decide to do, I hope it includes taking some sort of holiday break. Whether it is one week or four we all deserve one! And so do our kids :)
Misty Bailey is a wife to Roger and a homeschool mom to three beautiful blessings. She resides with her family in Southern Ohio. She loves helping new homeschoolers and has a free Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey. You can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest.
Van is a life learner and loves to teach. After having children, her husband simply suggested that if she wants to teach, then she should teach her own. She decided to leave her corporate career to homeschool her three daughters, incorporating her business background and her Vietnamese culture.
She would like to share her insight and experience with fellow homeschoolers to help make the most of their homeschooling years. She is continuing her teaching propensity by tutoring, mentoring, and writing columns in the local newspaper which can be found in The Gwinnett Daily Post and The Buford Illustrated.
As parents, we want to teach our children the importance of serving others. Giving back to our community is important, and we want our children to realize how valuable it is to volunteer. The two greatest things we can teach our children is to love and to serve. Both of these can be done by volunteering as a family.
Local Animal Shelter
- Take up donations (see your local animal shelter for ideas about what may be needed)
- Go in for a day and walk the animals
- Volunteer to clean up pens
- Have a bake sale and donate the money
- Make treats for the animals.
- Work at an adopt a pet event
- Take up donations. Things that are usually needed include blankets, jackets, socks, etc. Check with your local shelter and see what their needs are.
- Host a canned food drive at your next homeschool event
- Make food baskets. These can be given to families when they leave the shelter.
- Make toiletry bags. These can include toothbrushes, toothpaste, a comb, and other hygiene items. Place items in pencil pouches and deliver them to the homeless shelter.
- Playing with the children
- Working fundraiser events
- Assist with basic maintenance of facility
- Help staff with landscaping of facility
- Taking up needed donations.
- Find/Recruit a “grand friend” at a nursing home or assisted living facility.
- Play card games with residents who maybe don’t have many visitors.
- Make cards during the holidays and deliver them to the residents. This can be done during and outside of the normal Christmas season, think Valentines Day, Grandparents Day and Veterans Day.
- Raise a service dog, typically a puppy training commitment of two years. There are many organizations out there.
- Certify your family dog as a therapy dog to volunteer in hospitals and schools.
- Many Salvation Army branches offer a wide variety of ways to volunteer. They assemble food baskets, serve meals to the needy in the community and collect donations for families in needs.
- The Red Cross offers their own branch of volunteer services for kids. Check out more information here.
- Be sure kids and parents have CPR/First Aid training so they can help with life-saving services if necessary.
Additional Ideas for Volunteering in Your Community
- Volunteer to deliver Meals on Wheels in your neighborhood, perfect for parent and young children.
- Grow vegetables and offer extra produce to people who don’t have space to garden.
- Have kids draw special pictures. Use these as wrapping paper, tucking inside them a piece of wrapped candy or silk flower, along with a note and hand them out to people in your community like a cashier, librarian or other community helpers.
- Let little kids offer popsicles to garbage truck workers
- Do errands, cook for or help out someone dealing with an illness
- Pick up litter in your neighborhood or wildlife area.
- Volunteer for your local community theater.
- Adopt a town monument and keep it clean.
- Make treats and deliver them to your local police or fire station.
- Volunteer as a family to help at aRonald McDonald House in your area.
- Organize to build a playground in your neighborhood.
There are so many ways homeschool families can give back to their community. Make a plan NOW to serve in your area. Build it into your homeschool day. Set aside a day every month to volunteer. Giving back to your community will fill you with joy and let others see the light of Christ in you.
Misty Bailey is a work at home homeschool mom to three active kids. She loves helping new homeschoolers and has a Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.
Homeschooling children of multiple ages can be challenging, however it can be done. In fact, it is done all the time. The vast majority of homeschool families are made up of multiple children and they manage to make it work for them. So can you! In fact, there are some advantages to homeschooling multiple children that you may not have considered. Read on to learn about some of these advantages, some of the challenges you may face, as well as some practical tips on homeschooling multiple ages.
Advantages of Homeschooling Multiple Ages
When you have multiple children, they are most likely each other’s first playmates. Although you will still likely look for ways for them to socialize with other children their age (such as joining co-ops, setting up playdates, and enrolling in extracurricular activities), you also always have the option of letting your kids hang out with each other – especially if there isn’t a huge age gap. This also helps to free up time for you because they can keep each other entertained while you attend to other things.
Stretch Your Money
When you have multiple children from different age groups, you can often get more bang for your buck by recycling your homeschool materials. Instead of using the materials once, you can often use them for multiple children – especially things like textbooks that are not consumable.
This is also a great way to save money. Rather than having to buy all new materials for every child, you can reuse them.
Although it is not necessarily a good thing to compare one child to another, there is something to be said about having a little healthy competition. Siblings can motivate each other to work harder and do more. They will also learn to support one another’s progress. Remember, even professional athletes cheer each other on, congratulate each other on their victories, and encourage each other when they stumble.
When siblings learn together, you might find that they end up helping each other. For example, if you are teaching a concept and one of your children catches on quicker than the other, the one who has mastered the concept might be able to explain it to their sibling in a way that you would have never thought to try. You might even be able to convince your older children to tutor the younger children. This achieves multiple purposes. First of all, the younger child is getting help with learning new concepts. Secondly, by teaching a subject, the older child will reinforce their own knowledge. Finally, it will give you more time to attend to other things.
Challenges of Homeschooling Multiple Ages
Time Management and Scheduling Concerns
One of the biggest challenges that you will face when homeschooling multiple children in different age groups will be making enough time for each child’s educational needs. It can be challenging to figure out all of the logistics. This is especially true when you add in extracurricular activities.
Different Learning Styles and Paces
Another challenge is that all of your children might have different learning styles and also might learn at vastly different paces. It can be difficult trying to simultaneously accommodate all of their learning needs.
Although it is possible to reuse homeschool materials, when you are starting out, it will likely be more expensive because you will have to gather materials for each child. It becomes even more costly if you decide to engage in various extracurricular activities.
Less One-On-One Time
When you have multiple children, it can be challenging to get one-on-one time with each of them. This is especially true if one or more of them requires more time because they are younger or are having difficulty with certain subjects.
Although a little competition can be healthy, there is also the possibility of more serious sibling rivalry in which your children feel pressured to keep up with each other or vie for your attention and time.
Tips for Homeschooling Multiple Ages
Although your plans may not always work out exactly as you envision, simply having a plan in place can make things move along so much more readily. This is even more true when you are homeschooling multiple ages. Not only can planning ahead make things run more smoothly, it also helps to ease your mind and make you feel more confident. Knowing what you will work on, what you will need, and what times you will do everything can be a huge help. Some people plan far in advance (sometimes even for the entire academic year) and others plan on a short-term basis (such as the week or night before). Some do a combination (having a yearly plan, but working out the details on a weekly or daily basis). Do what works for you!
Adapt Lessons to All Ages
Whenever possible, adapt your lessons so that all of your children can participate. You might need to get really creative with some of them, but it is possible to teach one subject to kids of various ages in a way that each one can understand. For example, if you are learning about dinosaurs, younger kids might color or draw pictures of dinosaurs while older kids might construct a dinosaur diorama or write a story about a day in the life of their favorite dinosaur.
Schedule in Mommy Breaks
More than likely, you will need to take breaks to either rest or attend to other things. Schedule in times when your children either work together or do some independent work.
Recruit the Older Kids for Help
Whenever possible, get the older kids to pitch in with lessons. As was mentioned before, one of the benefits of teaching others is that you are simultaneously reinforcing your own knowledge and skills. This also helps you to be able to get more done.
As you can see, although homeschooling multiple ages comes with some challenges, it is far from an impossible feat. Do you homeschool multiple ages? What are some of the things you do to make things run more smoothly?
Sara is a homeschooling mom of three who has been blogging since 2008 at Embracing Destiny. She loves to encourage other homeschool moms with ideas for creative, delight-directed learning. She is also the owner of The Homeschool Post. You can find her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.