Many homeschoolers choose to learn using workbooks and textbooks just like school kids. Even if you don’t use a full homeschool curriculum, you may want to teach your kids certain things. There can be a nice balance between lots of freedom and life learning, with a mix of some introduction of tools and curriculum. Some unschoolers will disagree and believe all curriculum tries to force learning, rather than allow for organic learning. However, I like my kids to try new things and practice skills they’ve learned. Often they end up liking something, or at least understanding something they may never have attempted to even try before and I see the pride of accomplishment when they do understand and can move on. If nothing else, it can lead to thoughtful questions.
What if you want to do some traditional teacher to student style educating, but your kids do not respect you in the role of teacher? Here’s the solution:
Don’t be the “teacher”
Don’t even see yourself as a “teacher”. I don’t have to command the attention of a full classroom to keep order. I don’t need all eyes on me to know they are listening. I don’t need to explain every detail in multiple ways to cover many different learning styles. I know my kids’ learning styles or they will tell me if they don’t get it and we’ll find another way. My job is to be a support and a mentor only helping & guiding as needed.
Be a Mentor
Sit side by side rather than stand in front or at the head of your table as much as possible. Let the kids play with manipulatives or materials for a bit before you begin to try to tell them what they are for or how you think they should be used.
Let them do their work and only step in if they need help. Wait until they ask, “what am I supposed to do on this page?” Then you’re helping, not directing. Let them make mistakes and then go over their work when done. Gently ask if you can show them how you would do it because you see they are not getting it yet. “Honey you did a great job, but this is not really what this question was asking. Can I show you a way to figure this out?”
Give choices about what to study. Hold a vote if you’re working with more than one child at once on what subject to start with. For that matter, let them create the schedule so they’re more willing to follow it. My kids get to pick whatever we’ll study for science each month. If they disagree they have to work it out among themselves.
Give choices in how and where to study as well. My son gets really stressed over reading and won’t even try unless we are cuddled up together on the couch or in bed. Even just my touching his arm calms him, so, I make sure I have time to sit with him for that time. My daughter likes to sprawl out on the floor to do her workbooks. If you’ve been sitting at the table for learning, try a change of scenery. Ask your kids where they would prefer to work.
Giving them choices helps them to feel in control of their learning. If my kids think of a “better” way to learn, such as building a tower and measuring rather than measuring pictures in a book, why not? They are learning and hands on, fun projects stick in their memory much more than any work page ever would.
I’m not saying it’s always smooth sailing over here, though. Sometimes it’s just a change in moods or interests as they grow or a lack of sleep that make them uncooperative. Some days we need to skip all formal learning and go for a long hike or cuddle up and read a novel together for hours.
The great thing about homeschooling is you can always change it up! Of course, all families and learning styles are different, but I hope this helps you and your kids relax and enjoy learning together.