Friday, 18 October 2013

Home learning tips

I am no expert but here are some basic pointers that help me to successfully implement homeschooling for my very young. I think it may be helpful for those who are just starting out and with very young kids- I hope. :)
1) Home learning corner
First and foremost, designate a corner specifically for home learning. This is where you keep & display all your educational materials. You want your child to associate learning with this corner and nothing else. Such that whenever she is in this area, she knows it is time for learning and nothing else. At best try not to use a common area i.e dining table for home learning because you want the child to understand it is time to learn not to eat or play.
Also, as far as possible ensure that this corner is kept separated (read: FAR FAR AWAY) from where the toys are. You want your child to focus on home learning and not be distracted with the toys.
Like most, I don't have the luxury of space. So I have a home learning shelf in the kid's bedroom. On this shelf, i store and display all the learning materials. When we approach this shelf, Doll understands full well that it is time for learning. She is there not there to play, sleep or eat but learn.
2) Set a routine
Just like nap/bed times, meals etc, set a routine in your day for home learning. I am not saying set a fix time like 12.00pm, but set the flow of events fix in your day to day. For instance, Doll knows that we do home learning after her lunch. She knows the drill so well that she will automatically ask to go to our learning shelf after her meal even when I don't lead her there.
3) Be consistent
Once you have set your heart and mind to it, make certain you are consistent with it at the same time, same place. Of course, there will be days when you or your child will feel off- that's okay. It's better to stay off track when either of you is feeling wonky than to force everyone to do it & be unhappy. But in general, be consistent as far as possible- just like sleep training! HA!

4) Name your learning session
When I first started, I always yelp excitedly 'DO WORK TIME!' (yes, it lacks of creativity and sounds super boring but ah well) and lead the kids to the shelf. Over time, they understood that when I say 'Do work time', they are to proceed to our learning shelf. Think of it like a school bell.
5) Have low expectations
Keep in mind that young kids have short attention span. Say that 1000 times before you start the lesson! Don't enter into the lesson thinking they will sit still, listen and follow your instructions to the T. In fact, do EXPECT and be prepared that they will do just the opposite. For one, don't prepare hefty lessons- make sure the concepts can be put across to them in a clear, concise and quick manner. Personally, I think our home learning is more than successful if we accomplish just 15 minutes with doll!
6) Be prepared to stop
Montessori's rule is be prepared to stop when the child shows no interest in the lesson. You want your child to be in a joyful state of mind when doing work not feeling like she is being forced into it. Also, always end the lessons when her interest level is still high. Don't wait for her to feel bored or tired to end the lesson. You want her to remember learning is fun and make her want to come back for more.
7) Follow her interest
The rule of thumb is prepare lessons that are skewed towards her interest. You can offer her to try something new but if she declines, respect that. Don't force it on her no matter how many hours and sleepless nights you have put in to prepare that lesson.
During our first few lessons, I purportedly gave her activities that I knew would make her squeal in delight. I wanted her to think that home learning is so much fun so that she will be attracted back to the shelf.
Once these are in place, the rest of the journey would be relatively easy. At this point, I rarely need to negotiate, bribe or convince her to attend my home lessons. It is a breeze. In a nutshell, make home learning into a habit and fun!

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