Sunday, November 30, 2008

Homeschool Grading

Grading in homeschooling is done by the teacher-in-charge. In most of the cases, this is the mother! Grading can get a bit tricky because it can be a little difficult to grade your own child objectively. There is no benchmark against which you can evaluate your child's performance. In most cases, you also have no awareness of how well other children are doing. So, obviously the traditional method of grading is perhaps not the best method to follow.

When grading a child undergoing homeschooling, it is more important to assess whether the child has understood the subject that is being taught. Inherent in this is the fact that if the child has not understood something, you will go over it again.

This will work in your child's favor in two ways. First, the child knows that if he or she fails to catch on, the topic will be repeated until it is mastered. Secondly, the child knows that once the topic has been mastered, he or she will get full credit for his hard work. Getting full reward for hard work put in is a great motivational factor, especially for kids.

When assessing your child's abilities, do not allow emotions to overcrowd your rationale. Do not yield to the cries and tears of your child if he or she resists certain topics or subjects. If mastering these skills is necessary, then you as the teacher AND the parent have to go over the topic until it is fully understood.

When the child is still young and unable to understand the importance of his lessons, it is your responsibility to see to it that the child develops the skill set necessary for future growth.

If you live in a state that requires yearly standardized tests, this will help you to judge your child's ability vis-à-vis his peers.

Even if it is not mandatory, you may want to test your child every year. These tests will reveal the variations in the child's learning pattern. It may show up unexpected areas of strength and hitherto unknown areas of weakness. This enables you to structure your teaching to cover the areas that are weak, and build upon the areas that are strong.

In case your state requires a homeschool report card, keep a record of the yearly development and scores of your child. Also, include pertinent areas like punctuality and discipline in the report. You may also need to keep a record of the number of working days and attendance.

While grading your child, make sure that you use as many external tests as possible. There are several websites that deal with the various age groups, and allow free downloading of question papers.

This is an excellent and cost-effective method to assess your child. Homeschooling, if done in the proper manner, will boost the child's confidence because he will be studying to satisfy his natural curiosity. The scores therefore will reflect his true intelligence.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Maintaining a Home School Discipline

When the child stays at home all day, and the mother or father is the teacher, there are certain issues of discipline at stake. It is easy for he child to misconstrue the freedom he has at home and feel that homeschooling is just a long summer holiday. This is a potential landmine and children need to be disciplined right at the start.

Homeschooling gives you and your child a truly immense amount of flexibility. You and your child decide where to learn, how much to learn and when to learn. But, these should be decisions made at the beginning stages. If your child is too little to take an active part in the decision, chart out a few hours of the day for the various activities, and stick to it. When there is no outside agency to supervise and no exams to answer, it is easy to get sidetracked. If your child is old enough, consult him and find out when he wants to learn. Apply your parental discretion and come up with a timetable.

Homework is also a part of homeschooling. What this means is that once lessons have been taught, the child should be asked to do some part of the course work by himself without your guidance. You will need to make sure that your child sits willingly and finishes his work.

Courtesy, manners and punctuality are some of the various facets of discipline that a child has to learn in the early years of his life. The school where he interacts with his peers, his seniors and juniors and his teachers fine tune these values automatically. At homeschool, the child should be taught the importance of speaking and behaving in a proper manner and appropriate corrections need to be meted out if behavior is unsatisfactory.

It is advisable to keep aside a particular room or a part of the room for your homeschool. The child should be expected to reach his desk at the appointed time, in proper attire with all the necessary material. It is easy to allow the school to become an extension of play if these ground rules are not laid out and followed. As the teacher, supervisor, principal and janitor rolled into one, you should also approach the study area with a cool professionalism.

Homeschooling is doomed to fail without patience. In spitre of all the precautions and steps one takes, it is easy for a child to get side-tacked at homeschool. At such times, it may be difficult to discipline the child and get him to listen to you attentively.

When this happens, switch to something new. Allow the child to take a breather and enjoy a break yourself.

Homeschooling is not easy. It requires a lot of hard work and patience. The very informality of the whole procedure sometimes works against it by making it too easy. If you take steps to establish rules at the very beginning and adhere to these rules, your homeschooling experience will be a huge success.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Home School Structure

Now that you have begun your homeschooling schedule, there are various questions that trouble you. Should you study continuously, take a number of short breaks or a long vacation? What about public holidays? When should you take a break?

The answer to these questions and many more like these are actually quite simple: Do whatever suits you best. This is one of the appealing benefits of homeschooling. You do not have a set pattern to follow. You do not HAVE to take that autumn break, or close shop for a prolonged summer vacation. Flexibility is the key here. For some practiced unschoolers, even a definite curriculum is not necessary because lessons are a part of their day- to-day life. But this may not be the case with beginners. Beginners may need to chart out their activities to fall into a pattern.

Before you plan the structure of your classes, consider some of the most important issues. What method of homeschooling will you be following, what is your teaching style and your child's learning style, what are the work and play schedules, what are your vacation plans. Some families plan small 1-week vacations at different times of the year. Other families prefer to go away for a month or more. Consult with the members of your family, and chart out a holiday schedule that most suits you.

There are some positive benefits in following the traditional summer vacation schedule. Firstly, your children can benefit from the various summer activities, camps and classes. Your child's schedule will coincide with that of his school-going friends. A summer job may be possible. A longish summer break also means that both parents as well as children get a break from their daily lessons. This could also be a major drawback, as it is sometimes difficult to get back on track once the classes resume.

On the other hand, there are some advantages to taking numerous small breaks in the course of a year. Firstly, children do not get bored since they get time to explore other interests. You can cover more topics in the extra time that you save. You can also take family trips and vacations during the less popular periods of travel. This means lesser crowd and better prices. But beware if your child becomes restless when other children are enjoying their long summer vacations.

As far as homeschooling is concerned, you and your family are the people in charge. Taking care of the individual needs of the child is the primary focus of this system. So, tailor the school year to suit your child's needs. Periodic evaluation is a must. Set some realistic goals and see if you are able to achieve these goals. Most importantly, avoid burnout - both in yourself and your children.