The pandemic has forced a homeschool approach for families, and more parents are deciding to forgo the traditional classroom even after things are back to normal. Flexibility, student-centered learning, quality of education, and convenience top the list of homeschool benefits. But students must learn, and that means having to complete assignments and being evaluated on their progress. Classwork and homework, however, don’t have to be stiffly regimented chores; with a little creativity, homeschool parents can get through the process painlessly.
Rewards for Efforts: Tech Time and Backyard Science Experiments
The human brain is wired to seek rewards. Children, especially, tend to seek out activities that spark creativity and satisfy their natural curiosity. Sitting at a desk with a pencil and paper in hand doesn’t cut it. With the help of technology, children can continue their learning efforts and actually enjoy the lessons. For example, they can explore different subjects like history, art and music by downloading a variety of apps on a tablet. Or they can access a streaming service and watch a children’s educational show.
Additionally, many classroom lessons can be supplemented with hands-on activities that strengthen the child’s awareness on the topic. Once a child’s classroom education is complete, he or she can be “rewarded” with the opportunity to display their knowledge. Setting up an area in the backyard for science experiments is a great way for families to get outdoors together to foster fitness and relieve stress. Children won’t consider it work and will be more willing to move on to the next lesson and the next fun post-classroom activity.
Books Not Necessary
Not all learning requires a pencil and paper. Students can be given the opportunity to learn about topics ranging from science to math to engineering and culture without ever stepping foot in the classroom. And their homework can be the result of their academic efforts instead of a measure of their rote memory. Former White House correspondent Joseph Williams recently explored the viability of classroom-less learning and explains that many students thrive when they have the ability to self-direct their own curriculum.
Leave Them Be
While homeschool parent-educators have the responsibility of teaching their students-children, there comes a time when the lesson ends, and parents should step aside. In a recent post in The Atlantic, journalist Dana Goldstein outlines the results of a large-scale study measuring student performance based on parental involvement, specifically with homework and post-elementary-age students. The study was performed by professors from Duke and the University of Texas at Austin. What they found was that students whose parents constantly check over their homework actually don’t have any better academic outcomes than students whose parents take a hands-all approach to their education. In many cases, students whose parents try to help often wind up with grades lower than their peers. It stands to reason that parents and students alike will stress less if the book-learning is left for school hours.
Play Is a Priority
Regardless of the child’s age, physical activity is paramount to proper physical and mental development. Unfortunately, society prioritizes academics over fun. The American Academy of Pediatrics asserts that reduced playtime can actually have a negative impact on a child’s academic success. Homeschool parents should consider scheduling unstructured playtime at least twice in each school day. While it may seem contradictory, stepping away from classwork is one of the best things that parent-educators can allow their children to do. Not only does play help reset the mind, but it enhances decision-making skills and can keep the brain alert, resulting in better focus in the classroom.
When Help Is Needed
There are times when students will simply need a little extra help understanding certain concepts. This can cause lots of stress between parent and child. Before trying to offer a helping hand, parents should first ensure they understand both the question and how to come to a solution. Their children’s concerns should be fully heard and under no circumstances should any child be belittled for failing to comprehend a specific subject. Children who are struggling may benefit from the services of an academic tutor who can offer strategies for learning.
In conclusion, while education is of the utmost importance for a child’s future success, it can be difficult for homeschool parents to make learning fun. Parent-educators should utilize every resource at their disposal, especially those who don’t involve classroom learning.
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