8 Homeschool Things to Avoid This Year

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Are you one of many parents opting for homeschooling? You aren’t alone. Even before the pandemic, many parents preferred this educational model for multiple reasons. 

You probably have your hands full with making plans for the coming school year. You can find scores of information on what you should do — but what should you avoid in your homeschool classroom? It’s time to rethink the following eight practices and techniques to create your young learner’s ultimate educational experience. 

1. Relying on Outdated Materials 

If you find the prices of updated textbooks staggering, you are in good company. Traditional public schools must also contend with the economic cost of keeping these expensive supplies relevant. Quality books can come with price tags in the triple digits. 

However, you don’t have to rely on texts alone to educate your children. You can find the most updated data online. Locate reliable, trustworthy online databases that you can use for instruction. You can transform the search into a teachable moment by asking your children how they would determine whether a website contains accurate information. 

2. Using a One-Size-Fits-All Curriculum

One of the reasons many parents give for homeschooling is that public school systems lack the time and money to tailor their curriculum to meet individual learning styles. However, you won’t enjoy the full advantages if you rely solely on the lesson plans suggested by an outside company. 

As you plan your lessons, keep them student-centered. Consider how your child learns best. If the materials you bought include worksheets that make them groan, supplement them with alternative activities or replace them. While you do need to adhere to state standards, homeschooling isn’t a coloring book. You don’t always need to stay between the lines.  

3. Lecturing 

Adults have an average attention span of 15 minutes when it comes to tuning into TED Talks and the like. Children have a much shorter one, but traditionally, educators expected them to sit through lectures lasting significantly longer. Is it any wonder that they become distracted and engage in frustrating behaviors? 

You will need to provide direct instruction at times. However, keep these sessions small and manageable — no more than five to ten minutes at a stretch. 

4. Lack of Hands-On Learning 

Experiential learning helps students master challenging concepts because it allows them to apply their knowledge to solve real-world challenges. Letting your child sit at the computer all day may enable you to get your work done, but it won’t necessarily help them learn. 

Instead, get your kids moving and using their hands. If you teach a lesson on plant biology, head out to your garden and apply the knowledge. If you study astronomy, bring your telescope, or borrow one from the library and go stargazing on a clear night. Invest in that chemistry set, and watch your child’s engagement levels soar. 

5. Grueling Sessions at the Computer

Do your head and eyes start to ache after staring at an expense for hours? Children aren’t tiny superhumans — blue light exposure can trigger migraines, and too much sitting can have adverse health effects. Make sure your child’s learning environment is comfortable and ergonomic. Limit the amount of screen time they enjoy. Every 30 minutes they spend on virtual lessons, include a five to ten-minute break for unplugged activities. 

6. Skipping the Library

Your local library has probably reopened already, but if they haven’t, they’re likely making plans to do so. You’ll need to follow a new set of guidelines for your visit, but you can find a wealth of resources and information. Call ahead to determine if you can browse the shelves or arrange for curbside pickup. If you have concerns about enclosed public spaces, many facilities will bring your items to your car. 

If you lack a home computer, or your internet goes out, your library may provide help. Many have limited access to adhere to social distancing guidelines — you may need to reserve a slot. Ask the librarian if they know of any charitable initiatives to help you get the equipment you need at home. They may have connections to community resources. 

7. Missing Out on Field Trips 

Field trip day is among the best times of the year for students. Who says your little one has to miss out on the fun? You have an advantage as a homeschool parent — you don’t have to worry about adequate chaperone coverage or crowded busses. 

Where can you go? Museums and science centers often offer low-cost or even free admission for children under a given age. You can head to state or national parks or wildlife centers to learn about your region’s flora and fauna. If you have a theater near you, you can treat your young learners to a live play or orchestra performance. 

8. Eliminating Phys. Ed and Home Ec. 

Homeschool parents sometimes forget the value of electives. Kids need movement to develop healthy bodies and minds. Go several steps better than your public school by having gym class every day — even if it consists of a walk around the block. 

Home economics also offers multiple educational enhancement opportunities. The littlest learners can count the ingredients in a given recipe, while older children hone their math skills by reducing or increasing measurements to meet serving requirements. Plus, a healthy diet reduces the risk of various diseases. Discuss the nutritional content of different foods and how they enhance or harm your body. 

Avoid These Eight Homeschool Foibles for a More Successful Academic Year 

Homeschooling offers a ton of benefits, but you do need to avoid the pitfalls. By skipping the activities above, you leave more time for engaging educational activities. 

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