With summer here and kids at home, creating your own home-school curriculum is a great way to make up for lost time and get your child’s education back on track.
Our intent with this article is to provide an introduction of sorts, giving some ideas on how to create a curriculum that will work for your family and child(ren). This isn’t going to be the only strategy you need but it certainly helps you with creating a custom learning plan that works for any person in the household.
We have tried to remove all confusing terminology so even those new to home-schooling will succeed in creating their own custom plan. We also encourage you to explore other resources as well as discover what works best for you and your family.
Here We Go!
1. Know Thy Student(s)
Developing a good home-school curriculum means knowing your students, what they know and don’t know, their weaknesses and their strengths. The most important thing you can do is spend time with each child learning about them individually for this will allow you to create a custom plan that works best for them – regardless of grade level or age.
You may learn that one child needs lots of hands-on work while another prefers more independent reading or writing assignments. These are things you need to discover over time because creating an individualised curriculum is the only way a home-school plan will bring maximum reward.
2. Set A Schedule And Stick With It
Once you know who you’re teaching, create a schedule to fairly accommodate both their needs and your availability. Since everyone learns differently, setting aside time to meet each child’s individual learning style is essential. Equally important, is following that schedule every day throughout the year. It may be difficult at first, but eventually, set times for lessons during the school year will become habitual. In this way, you’ll know exactly when things need to get done without having to think about it too much. Once your routine becomes comfortable, stay with it from year-to-year, child-to-child. This consistency will make your life easier in more ways than one!
3. Find What Works For Your Family And The School
Since school schedules are different for everyone, pick a style that best suits your family. Try to match the academic subjects learnt at school along with the extra-curricular ones. Develop a combination of hands-on activities with independent work. Once you have decided upon a balanced schedule, create an atmosphere that is efficient, organized and pleasant – making this time something the whole family can benefit from.
You can find out more on how to create a perfect study environment in our article here.
You may find it helpful to include some prepared worksheets to pass the time between subjects, or when students find it difficult to motivate themselves for independent study. These could be colouring sheets, spelling, vocabulary and maths exercises to complete, etc. Don’t forget to add in some fun – although this is still school work, it should be enjoyable for the students, no matter their age.
4. Build On What Your Child Already Knows
Just because he or she is in Year 4 / 3rd grade doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch for that year group. They may have already had an introduction to algebra or pre-algebra or whatever subject you’re thinking of teaching. You don’t necessarily need to re-do lessons they learned in previous years but it is highly beneficial to make them available for review if needed. This gives both you and your student(s) a chance to brush up on things they may not remember as well. There’s no sense in wasting valuable time when there is already a foundation in place!
5. Allow Time For Projects And Activities
For younger children it’s important to include some free-time during the school day, allowing them to work on any activity they choose or to simply doodle or be independently creative while they wait for their next lesson.
For older kids you may find it beneficial to let them work independently more often than not. This means letting go of the reins and giving them some freedom with regards to their educational choices. While this may seem risky at first, your student(s) will benefit much more from self-motivated learning – so consider letting them take ownership of their education by researching topics they are interested in learning about themselves.
6. Keep A Record Of Daily Activities And Progress
Have each student create a binder (or several binders – one per subject) where they can keep all of their work organized together. This is helpful not only for easy access during lessons but also serves as a good study guide after completing exams.
Knowing where to find things is often more useful than the lessons themselves so develop this habit early on.
7. Let Technology Aid You
Technology is everywhere these days and it can be a wonderful learning tool when used correctly. Take advantage of technology wherever possible: there are many home-schooling websites that offer activities, interactive lessons and much more online. Some even provide lesson plans making it easy for both you and your student(s) to access materials from the comfort of your own home!
At Online Super Tutors, we have a wealth of study materials – both prepared by the team in-house, as well as links to a whole host of others. Contact us for more information!
8. Let Nature Teach
One of the most beautiful things about nature is that it’s all around us; you simply have to get outside to learn its secrets! There are so many things children can observe and discover when they get out of the house – and there is no better season than summer to make the most of this.
Allow your child(ren) time to explore their surroundings with little supervision (expect accidents, of course!) – this will foster creativity, curiosity and confidence. Maybe there’s a trip in store for an afternoon? Why not let the kids plan it? This builds independence and gives them a sense of what it means to be in control in certain areas of their education and lives on the whole too.
9. Take Advantage Of Learning Opportunities
Teach your students about responsibility by letting them sign up for volunteer work at a local nursing home or animal shelter. Not only will they learn about what it means to give back, they will be able to share these experiences with their classmates when school starts back up.
If you don’t have time to plan trips on your own, get involved in the community so you can take advantage of opportunities that present themselves! There are many organisations and youth groups that can provide great lessons for older students while building character and leadership qualities.
10. Go On Field Trips!
Using real world examples of what you are learning in class is a great way not only to teach but for students to retain that knowledge later on. Going on field trips allows your child(ren) to see how concepts they are studying can apply in everyday life, while also giving them new opportunities for discovery and learning outside of the traditional classroom setting.
Make time for these kinds of excursions by planning ahead; sometimes it takes months before an opening at specific exhibitions becomes available at local museums or zoos (especially during the summer season).
11. Schedule Time For Family Activities
It’s important for both parents and students alike to take a break from education now and then. Try scheduling some time during the weekend or after school for family outings, unrelated to academia (although the filed trips above prove that many fun excursions can be educational for all!)
Adventures don’t have to cost any money – they can be as simple as a bike ride or taking your pet to the dog park. Family time doesn’t have to always take place at home so consider scheduling trips to the library, bookstores, aquariums, amusement parks or expositions!
12. Consider Home-School Meet-Ups With Other Families
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need some support then why not reach out to other home-schooling families? Many people find conversations with others going through similar struggles helps them feel less alone and prevents despair. It also provides opportunities for parents and students alike to share their experiences (both good and bad), allowing for insight into future problems and challenges.
Sometimes it’s helpful just knowing there are others like yourself is enough motivation for those times when you don’t feel like home-schooling anymore. Meet-ups don’t have to be formal either – you can organise playdates so your children(ren) can make new friends or even invite other students over for ‘classroom’ instruction. There are also a growing number of home-schooling groups that meet in person or online. These could serve as a great resource for lesson plans, advice, study materials and, most importantly, peace of mind!
13. Don’t Be Afraid To Make Mistakes!
Nobody is perfect and if you make a mistake it certainly doesn’t mean your child(ren) won’t be making progress. Everyone makes mistakes; the important thing is to learn from them – this means re-visiting lessons at home or asking for help from your neighbours, friends, family or local schools’ guidance counsellors.
Mistakes are a great way to teach children about problem solving skills and that not everything is going to go as planned. Learning how to adapt can strengthen critical thinking skills!
Bring It All Home
As you can see, creating your own curriculum brings many benefits when done in the proper way. And when you do create your own, you never have to worry about validity or grade level appropriateness again. You will know where you all stand, what you need to do, and last but not least – you will be bonding with your children and getting to know each other through lots of quality time spent together. Your child can explore all the good things in life, while getting a great education, and all with you at the helm.
We hope you enjoyed these ten steps on how to help your teen succeed at studying from home. For more information about school, college, and their professional programs visit www.onlinesupertutors.org. You can also subscribe to our free newsletter and download the resources we have available to aid your student in their academic pursuits.