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Transitioning from Parent to Homeschool Teacher: Covering the Basics

Isabel Shaw

But what about math and reading and writing? How can you effectively teach these subjects without a struggle? Many kids have difficulty because they begin studying too young, and the presentation is often boring. In school these topics are dissected into meaningless little elements that are painful to many kids. But in the big picture of real-life applications, math, reading, and writing are a part of daily living. As an active participant in this process, kids seem to pick up these skills effortlessly. Here are a few ideas you can try at home.

Math


Become aware of how you use math each day. Numbers on a page are often meaningless to kids, but measuring and planning a special project is fun. Try building a tree house, picnic table, or simple shelf. Include your kids in your routine activities: "How do we estimate how much paint we'll use for the kitchen? What is the total amount of our food bill each month? How much of that is junk food? How much would we save in one year if we don't buy junk food?" Even candy can present a challenge: "What is the average number of red candies in ten bags of M&M's?"

Writing


Most writing assignments are merely busywork, and kids know that. For a positive writing experience, children must believe that their work is meaningful. My girls enjoy keeping a journal of their daily activities. Buy a really cool-looking book and ask your kids to begin writing a few sentences about what they did each day. My 13-year-old loves to look back over her five years of journaling. Pen pals are another great way to encourage writing. I rarely have to coax my girls to write back, and they're thrilled to receive letters and pictures and even small gifts from their new friends.

Consider starting a writing club. Invite a few kids over to write together once a week. Let one child start the story, and ask the next child to add or change the direction of the story line. One mom filled a small bag with unusual objects – an old pair of eyeglasses, a tattered teddy bear, and a whistle. The kids wrote a story that included all the objects. The results were amazing!

Reading


I say this repeatedly because there's really no better way to foster your children's reading skills: Read aloud to your kids every day. Make going to the library a weekly event. Take out books on tape and play them in the car. Choose beautiful picture books for younger kids on whatever subjects interest them. Ask your librarian to recommend quality reading materials for your older kids. Consider a few subscriptions to interesting magazines – the same boy who balks at reading a book might just devour a soccer or sports magazine.

Parent as Teacher


My transformation from parent to teacher to learning partner has been a long and challenging one. After many years of home learning, I believe that the homeschool parent/teacher's role is to support, encourage, and enable each child to pursue his or her individual learning goals.

If you're still not convinced that you are qualified to teach your kids, read what Gatto – after 26 award-winning years of teaching – has to say about teacher qualifications: "That certified teaching experts like myself are deemed necessary to make learning happen is a fraud and a scam. Trust in families and neighborhoods and individuals to make sense of the important question, 'What is education for?' It is illegitimate to have an expert answer that question for you." Sounds a lot like homeschooling to me.

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