Let’s start with the obvious, homeschooling is not easy. For truly dedicated parents to homeschool their children, it takes an enormous amount of time, effort, and planning. If you are currently homeschooling your child or children, you understand this better than anyone else. However, there are some lesson strategies that can be used to overcome several challenges faced by homeschool parents.
Often, you may find yourself running out of time to cover the planned topic or lesson. If this happens frequently, it can usually be traced back to the original planning of the lesson. As with all work, school or otherwise, the carpenter’s motto can be used here: Measure twice, cut once.
Planning an effective homeschool lesson by spending extra time before the lesson’s start will save you time in the end. Use the following checklist when planning a lesson:
- Do I have the content necessary for the lesson?
- Is the content related to a previous lesson or can I build on it for future lessons?
- Is the content at my child’s readability level or will it be too difficult for them?
- How much time will I need to dedicate to the teaching of the lesson?
- How much of the lesson can they do independently?
- Have I included effective review work and assessment tools?
- Is there some supplementary work I can use to extend the lesson?
- What supplies will I need for possible activities or experiments?
- Will they need to access the Internet or other resources?
As you plan each lesson, try to foresee the questions or obstacles your students (children) may face as they work independently or as you conduct and facilitate the learning. Either way, the time used upfront for planning will ultimately save you time and allow you to plan more effective lessons.
It can take an effort to locate effective resources as well. The Internet is home to thousands of websites for educators, and many of them are focused on helping the homeschooling parent. However, there is often a cost for access to the best sites and it can become quite expensive, especially if you are operating on a fixed income or a shoestring budget. What can you do?
Of course, Clarendon Learning is a great resource for any homeschooling parent. All of the resources are free and are written by experienced teachers with years of active, in-classroom experience. Knowing you have this great resource in your back pocket, prior to the beginning of the homeschooling year, identify the standards you will be using. Some states require you to use the Common Core State Standards, others have their own, and still, some are flexible as to what homeschoolers can use. Clarendon Learning’s lesson plans are written with Common Core State Standards in mind but may be adapted to meet other state standards as well.
If Clarendon Learning does not have the resources you are looking for then locate an education resource site (like Clarendon Learning) that also includes standards for their lessons or resources. There are many that offer free lessons with step-by-step instructions for teaching your child the content. Much of the content includes links to related sites as well, plus printables or interactives.
Once you find a preferred site, stick with it as the starting point for all lessons. It may be tempting to visit many other sites during the school year, but resist the temptation because you will find yourself spending more time searching online for the next “best” site, and less time planning and teaching the lesson.
However, you can always give your kids time to locate and discover new information related to content from a lesson, but use it as a supplementary exercise. They may find a site that offers additional activities or ideas, and if that is the case, allow them to further explore, experiment, and learn on their own. Do not make it the focus of your planning.
Finally, every lesson can be connected to the real world. And as a homeschooling parent, you have the flexibility to connect the content in a lesson with current events or even with a planned or spontaneous field trip.
As an example, imagine a simple Introduction to Verbs lesson. You can easily take your child/children outdoors and have them list all the actions that are taking place, and then at the same time, list all the persons, places, and things they see—the nouns.
However, even with this flexibility, you must still plan accordingly and choose wisely the lessons used with those real-world connections. You do not want the activities and short field trips to take away from the new content that students must learn. A child can step outside at night and see the moon, but it does not help him or her to learn how the moon affects the Earth’s tides.
Using homeschool lesson strategies will help you as a homeschooling parent more effectively teach your children, allow for additional time for teaching, and will help you enhance the lessons used throughout a school year.