You go to sleep the night before your first day as a homeschool teacher with visions of sugarplums dancing in your head. Well, okay, not sugarplums, but you are dreaming of how well you hope your day will go. You just know that little Johnny is going to love the math game you found to help him practice his addition work. Science class will be a nature walk in the park. You will read “Treasure Island” and stop to look up words together in the dictionary. It is going to be wonderful!
What happens if your morning is nothing like you planned? Johnny refuses to play the math game, he won’t put on his shoes for the nature walk and he isn’t interested in reading aloud together. What happened? You put so much effort into planning all of this out, and it isn’t working. Do you start to think that maybe you shouldn’t be homeschooling?
Before you throw in the towel, take a deep breath and then take some time to reevaluate your methods. Sure, you would have loved to play games to learn math when you went to school, and getting outside would have been a huge treat. That is you, but it may not be your child. We all have different learning styles, and one of the best things you can do for your family (and your sanity) is to spend some time considering how each of you learns best. What worked for you, may not work for him. And what was great for one child won’t always be right for the next one.
Here are some things to think about when evaluating your child’s learning style (the term “learning style” refers to the way, or style, a person most easily learns and processes new information or skills) – Does he constantly have to be moving? Does she insist that everything be in its proper place? Is he more comfortable on his own or does he need people around? Does she view competition as a good thing or bad? The answers to these questions will help you teach your child in the way that he will learn best.
“The Guide to Homeschooling” is published by the FPEA and available for members. In it you will find incredibly helpful information about learning styles. You will be introduced to “Wiggly Willy” who needs to move around and is a hands-on learner, “Perfect Paula” who likes the typical school set up. You will also meet “Competent Carl” who is analytical learner and enjoys problem solving in math and science, and “Sociable Sue” who doesn’t like memorization but loves change and the big picture. Knowing these things about your child and about yourself will make your homeschool journey much more joyful.
If you are feeling stressed out and thinking that maybe you need to re-evaluate your teaching methods, you might want to take a short break from your regular homeschool curriculum and materials. Do a little less teaching and a lot more observing. Watch and find out who your child is and what his learning style is and then work from there. You and your child will be so glad you did.
by Melanie Thurman, FPEA Relationship Ambassador. Melanie is a homeschooling mom of five in her 21st year of this adventure. She would love to see more and more moms give homeschooling a try and works to help encourage and support them through her local support group and as an FPEA Ambassador. You can catch up with her at www.thurmanmom.blogspot.com