1. Dress for Success
As tempting as it may be in the homeschool setting to roll out of bed, pour a bowl of cereal, and begin instruction in your bathrobe, it is important that you dress for success. Your children need to know the importance of the education they are receiving. There is no quicker way to give your at-home classroom an aura of respect, than by dressing the part. Clothing does not have to be formal, but it can’t be sloppy either. Similarly, your students should get ready for school in the morning by grooming and dressing appropriately to set the tone for the days work. Expectation is one of the greatest factors in student learning, and your dress reflects your expectations.
2. Eliminate Distractions
Learning time should be focused and efficient. It is important, therefore, to eliminate as many distractions as possible. As a homeschool teacher it may seem impossible to get rid of all the daily interruptions that take place, from phone calls to door-to-door salesmen. However, with a little bit of effort and preplanning disruptions to your class schedule can be minimized. To begin with make sure that you choose a room in your home with no TVs or inherent noise problems. To prevent disruptions in your class, hand a sign on the front door reading, “No solicitors, homeschooling in progress.” Also make sure to turn off the phone and put any pets outdoors.
3. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
To create an efficient use of time and space in your home, it is vital to have a daily and weekly schedule. School hours should be set and regular so that students know what to expect and are prepared to learn. While schedules are important to the educational environment, don’t let them be your only focus. Unique teaching opportunities arise all the time that should not be passed over to keep to the schedule. These are some of the greatest joys of homeschooling, being about to adapt learning to your individual students.
4. The Proper Tools
The homeschool environment needs to have the proper learning tools just like any ordinary classroom. Beyond the obvious paper and pencils, students need tools at their fingertips to encourage inquiry and problem solving. Every homeschool environment should have reference materials such as a dictionary, encyclopedia, atlas and internet. Hands-on learning tools are also important. Simple objects like dried pasta or building blocks can serve as aids to demonstrate math functions.
5. Text-Rich Environment
The homeschool classroom can always be improved with posters, letter cards, word walls, diagrams, and poems displayed for easy reference. Students are influenced by their surroundings. Giving students a text rich environment will encourage them to read and the repeated reference to these different pieces of language will encourage understanding and memory.
6. Multiple Modalities
There has been a great deal of focus on multiple intelligences in the area of education. The idea that each individual has strengths in different areas can be a very important key in presenting information in a way that individual can understand. Consider including things in the learning environment that will promote the different intelligences in your child. Include photos, graphic organizers, and illustrations for the visual learner. Have books on CD, music and chants for the auditory learner. Provide physical gestures, models, and tracing sand for those kinesthetic learners. There are ways to encourage and incorporate all of your learner’s specific intelligences into the daily lesson.
While you certainly have rules that your children follow in your home, you may want to create a more specific set of rules for school time. Having a set of rules that you develop with your children for their learning time is very effective. When everyone knows the rules and why they are necessary it is much easier to get compliance. Once you and your kids have decided on the rules and the consequences for following or not following the rules, take the time to write them down and post them where they can be referenced when appropriate.
8. Take a Break!
While, as adults, we may be able to push through an entire days work with few breaks, this is not ideal for children. In fact, it may be more beneficial to allow students regular movement breaks. These breaks can be part of the learning process or more of a recess. Either way, physical activity breaks refresh students and give them energy to refocus on their studies.