Whether you are just getting started in homeschooling or you've been teaching at home for years, you may be at a crossroads where you need to decide whether to run a formal or relaxed homeschool.
The Right Way to Homeschool
You'll quickly discover that there is no single correct way to homeschool. Every family is different and thus the means and methods that work for their children will be different. What works for one family may not work for another. There are several basic types of homeschooling from which to choose, including:
Any of the methods above will also work with a relaxed homeschool atmosphere. Just because you choose a structured curriculum, does not mean you can't be relaxed in your approach. The last thing any parent wants is a stressful homeschool and stressed out kids. Basically, a relaxed homeschool is not so much a method of how to homeschool, but an attitude and the delivery of the chosen method.
Ideas for Creating a Relaxed Homeschool Atmosphere
There are many ways to create a relaxed homeschool environment.
Parents Have to Relax
There are many fears that come with the decision to begin homeschooling. Many parents worry that they'll miss teaching some important concept and "ruin" their child forever. Perhaps you are lacking in one subject or another and worry that your child will miss out on important information he or she will need to be a competitive worker one day.
While these fears are normal, as you'll soon discover as you talk to other homeschooling parents, they can be overcome. In fact, the majority of homeschooled students excel whether using a formal curriculum or taking an unschooling approach. Even if a key concept is missed, it can be learned quickly by a motivated student. One homeschool parent mentioned that her daughter caught up on three years of math in one year once she found the motivation to do so.
Think Outside the Box
If you start school at seven a.m. sharp, have your children sit at a desk and fill in the same worksheets the school uses, you may be missing out on one of the many benefits of homeschooling, which is taking the time to really explore concepts that interest your children and letting him or her discover the joys of self-taught learning. Why does all learning have to be at a desk or table? There is nothing wrong with letting your child read a book while she rests in a hammock swaying in the breeze. Or what about floating in a plastic tube in the swimming pool and reading Robinson Crusoe?
Nothing Replaces Real Life Experience
Your child can read about horses for months, but until she gets to visit a local stable and spend the week working with these beautiful, magnificent animals, there are many aspects of horses she won't fully comprehend. Look for ways to expand book knowledge into real life knowledge. If you are studying about bees, visit a local bee keeper for the day. Learning about how plants grow? Visit the local nursery and pick the brain of the owner. This will also translate into a relaxed method of learning and great memories and fun for the entire family.
Try to remember what it was like to be a child. If your son wants to hang upside down off the couch and read a book, let him. At least he is reading, and learning. Does your daughter want some music playing softly in the background while she does her math? Why not? You're at home, and as long as she is doing her work and learning there should be some flexibility.
Some Final Relaxing Thoughts
Remember that while you are schooling at home, you aren't really a traditional school. Simply by doing things in a way that works best for your family, you'll eventually be more relaxed and a happier homeschooler. Being relaxed means going with the ebb and flow that life typically sends your way. If you need to break the school day up into several parts, need to take a week off for a family emergency or need to do unschooling for a while and then switch back to classical elements, there is nothing to worry about. Your children will learn what they need to function in this world over the course of their homeschooling careers and any gaps are easily and quickly filled with a little hard work. So, take a deep breath and just relax.
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