Homeschooling allows parents to provide their children with a more personalized learning experience than they would otherwise receive in a public school or traditional classroom setting. Providing a quality education from home requires a positive, safe environment that bolsters learning. Here are eight tips for homeschooling families that want to create a “classroom” in your home that enhances the homeschooling adventure.
Designate a Homeschooling Area in the Home
Parents must provide an area in the home that is conducive to learning. This space can be a separate room in your home, or it may simply be a desk in a den or basement set aside for conducting schoolwork. Your homeschooling space should have minimal distractions so that students can focus on the material they are learning at that time. A study funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to observe attention allocation during instructional activities in elementary school students found that roughly 25 percent of elementary student’s time is spent distracted.
Select an area that gets plenty of light. This area does not necessarily need to be large, but it should have plenty of space, so your student doesn’t feel cramp and has plenty of space to spread out course materials.
Provide a Comfortable Learning Space
A comfortable area will greatly enhance the learning process. Your student should have a comfortable place to sit that also helps them stay focused and on task. Provide plenty of flexible seating options for children who tend to fidget or can’t sit still, such as stability balls and wobble stools. Bean bags or other floor seating options are great for reading corners, as well.
The homeschooling area should have plenty of light. Windows are great to let in natural light, but you may need to install blinds if the sun causes glares. Make sure the temperature is comfortable since your student will spend several hours a day there.
Develop a Routine
Creating a schedule is beneficial for homeschooling students, especially for those transitioning from traditional classrooms where strict schedules are followed every day. Developing a routine doesn’t have to mean that your student is working through curriculum for six to seven hours day. One of the many benefits of homeschooling is the ability to follow a schedule that aligns with your family’s preferences. For example, some homeschool families “attend” school from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. with a short break. Others may wait until around 10 a.m. to start on curriculum and go until their goals are completed for the day.
If you are starting to homeschool for the first time, give yourself and your student time to adjust into the new schedule and makes changes as needs.
Take Regular Breaks
When following a schedule, you should be sure to incorporate breaks. This could mean something different for every homeschooling family. You may decide its best for your student to take a mental break and play outside. Your student could also use breaktime to read or do something creative like draw or paint. Meals and snacks should be included in your break schedule, as well. Healthy snacks that provide the brain with essential nutrients are always best. How you and your child choose to spend breaks in the day is up to you, but it is important to give students mental downtime.
Create a Fun Area
The largest benefit of homeschooling is that your family can steer away from traditional, institutionalized methods of learning and implement non-traditional options. A homeschooling space should encourage creativity, exploration, and engagement. A homeschool “classroom” should reflect your student’s personal traits, including age, interests, and preferred learning style. Each child has different strengths and weaknesses, so create a safe learning environment that allows them to explore their individual talents and interests in a fun, engaging way.
There are several ways to create an enjoyable environment. Colorful decorations like pillows, furniture, and rugs create an area that spurs excitement and creativity in students. Likewise, inspirational posters and other wall decorations make for a more exciting space. For younger students, use educational toys as learning tools that help build enthusiasm around the concepts children are learning.
Stock Your Room with Supplies
Writing utensils are just the beginning of the number of supplies, materials, and resources you will need in your homeschooling area. Stock your area with markers, crayons, and highlighters as well as notebooks and reading materials—both for entertainment and as a part of the curriculum. Often, homeschool families use online teaching tools, so reliable Internet access is also a must when it comes to prepping your room.
There are a variety of homeschool curriculum programs from which to choose. Each program includes different resources that are available online or in text and workbooks. If you decide one of these homeschooling programs is a good fit for your student, you will receive lessons and course materials to structure your student’s education around.
Clean and Organize the Space Daily
Keeping your homeschool space clean and orderly is crucial for a positive, healthy learning environment. Too much clutter is distracting and overwhelming for students. To make sure your area is clean and organized, create a cleanup process for you and your child to do together at the end of every day. Get creative and make clean up time fun for your student by rewarding them with stickers, playtime, or a sweet treat. This ensures a clean and organized homeschooling space with little hassle.
Travel Outside of the “Classroom”
Homeschooling allows families to explore new topics with non-traditional learning methods. Although having a curriculum ensures that your child is meeting certain milestones, a homeschool education can expand outside the home. Students can spend time in nature, exploring animals, insects, and plants while doing nature sketches. On the other hand, you and your child can go to the museum to learn about history or art. Seeing things outside the home broadens the student’s perspective, helps them see concepts come to life, and exposes them to new ideas.
Homeschooling is a gratifying experience for many families. Traveling outside of the “classroom” is not only a great way to learn about new things, but it also gives you and your child time to spend together through fun adventures.