Surviving the first year of homeschooling
I was very fortunate that the decision to homeschool was made while my children were in elementary school before things got too intense, but after they learned to read. For many momager types, the children are older and the educational stakes are higher. Other parents decide to start homeschooling from day 1 and they have to teach EVERYTHING! Don’t panic. Surviving the first year about homeschooling is more about assessment and planning than conquering astrophysics. This guide is mostly for children in middle school or before, although it is useful or older kids as well.
Find the holes:
Chances are very high that your child missed or underperformed in a few important topics in school. You will want to spend some time giving the child placement tests to find out where they stand. I like to back up a couple of grade years and test through the material they should know. The reason for doing this is that in school, your child has been tested on how fast they can learn the material, instead of mastery of the material. Mastery is more important than speed because they can build upon the knowledge they have mastered. Have you ever wondered how a child who gets a B in Algebra, a C in Algebra 2 and a D in Intro to Calculus?
This is because, without mastery, they don’t have the base knowledge on which to build the tougher subjects. Math is the most common subject to find learning holes in, and you can discover these holes through curriculum placement tests that are free online. There will be holes in reading and writing and science and social studies as well. I like to pick up “Summer Bridge” workbooks for lower grades and use them to test the children through the subject matter. This will tell you what your child has missed so you can fill it in.
Fill the holes:
Your child may balk at the process of filling the holes, but it will go quickly. What they will like the least is that they will find themselves working on the subject matter they already covered and that their learning materials might be labeled with a lower grade level than they were last in. The good news is that they have at least been introduced to this material in the past, so they can work through it quickly, and better master the work instead of just accepting a low grade on the subject matter in question.
Khan Academy is a great program for reviewing math. I suggest doing the math along with the student, starting from the same place and competing/racing through the material. It will motivate the student, and also refresh the parent on the material, making it easy to help the child through rough spots. As far as the other subjects are concerned, online videos, small research projects, and workbooks are the best way to fill your child in on the information they may have missed.
Plan for the future:
Once your child has mastered the topics of previous and current years, they are not more equipped to learn new things. New information and topics should build on things they have learned instead of being separate and disjointed facts to be stored into separate boxes in the brain. Because you have gone back and retraced the child’s educational past, you have turned all of these disjointed facts into a narrative that makes more sense and leaves them open to continue building through new information.
What you should be doing at this point is mapping out the rest of your child’s education. If your child is elementary aged, you need to map out through middle school. If your child is middle school or higher, you need to map out through college entry or graduation. Mapping it out isn’t as daunting as it sounds, although this will require an article of its own. It is simply figuring out what your child needs to know to get to the next step and creating a list you can follow to make sure you don’t miss anything