Homeschooling is not for everybody, which is why parents choose to send their children to school. But in times like these where we are all challenged to adapt to the situation that we have found ourselves in—the community quarantine brought about by the COVID-19 global pandemic—homeschooling can prove to be a blessing and a welcome change of scenery to both parents and children.
The beauty of homeschooling is that children can learn at their own pace, and parents who are new to homeschooling are encouraged to keep this in mind. Unlike in traditional schooling where there is a fixed curriculum and teachers go through the year guided by lesson plans that dictate exactly what needs to be done per day or per week, homeschooling offers flexibility and assures the learner that they there is no need to rush and that they can take their time in understanding the new lesson.
All children learn differently and there is nothing wrong with needing to have a lesson repeated a few times because it wasn’t understood the first time. Homeschooling provides children with the opportunity to figure things out without the added pressure of trying to keep up with their peers. Additionally, it is best that parents not be the source of this pressure to do well and keep up with the lesson as well. Self-paced learning is part of tailor fitting your child’s program in homeschooling.
Allowing your child to learn at their own pace also entails understanding and accepting their current abilities. There is nothing shameful about experiencing difficulty in a lesson that the child is expected to know at his or her current grade level. If this is the case, go back to the basics and help your child grasp the fundamentals first before moving on to more difficult content. Conversely, give your child more challenging content when the current lesson is proving to be too easy or if your child is showing signs of boredom.
Part of the flexibility of homeschooling is the freedom to integrate more than one subject area into one activity. For example, if the lesson in math is about weight, the child can measure the weight of the different people in the household. You may integrate HELE into the lesson by talking about eating the right kinds of food to maintain healthy body weight. If the child is advanced, you may even discuss the concept of body mass index (BMI) and introduce the formulas on how to compute it for an added challenge. English can also be integrated by providing word problems suitable to the child’s level. Want to take it a step further? Translate the word problem into Filipino.
As previously mentioned, all children learn differently, and that means that some children may have difficulty grasping a concept when it’s presented to them as an idea without anything else to support it. Again, this is fine. Embrace it as an opportunity to delve deeper into the topic.
The concept of experiential learning is not new and has been around since the 1980’s. Thanks to David Kolb’s experiential learning cycle (1984), we have a step-by-step guide as educators to help students who need a more concrete learning experience.
According to Kolb, there are four stages of the learning cycle and effective learning takes place when a learner is able to cycle through all four stages, regardless of which stage a learner starts in.
Using the example above of the math lesson involving weight, one way to make the lesson more experiential and contextual is to integrate life skills such as packing one’s luggage for a trip. Explain the concept of baggage allowance and have your child pack for a three-day trip, for example, without exceeding the allowed weight. This will allow them to learn concepts such as trial and error and even prioritizing things and their importance all while still targeting the main concept of weight.
By providing a more concrete experience like this, the child is better able to appreciate the lesson, which may result in a better understanding and retention of the lesson.
Creativity in Implementing a Homeschool Program
While the materials for the homeschool program are already provided to the parents, it still pays to exercise one’s own creativity in working to make integration and experiential learning work for your child. Other more unconventional approaches to teaching and learning are not included in the homeschool program and it is therefore up to the parents to implement the program in a way that engages their child based on their child’s interests. Parents may learn that it’s not always so simple to hold and maintain a child’s interest especially when learning a new topic, and so parents are also challenged to exercise their own creativity and flexibility to meet their goals.
It may require a little bit of additional work, but try not to be frustrated if something is not working. Just as parents should avoid putting too much pressure on their children to succeed, avoid putting the same pressure on yourself to get your child’s program right the first time. It may take time and adjustment on both ends before everyone can reap the benefits of homeschooling, and that is perfectly okay.
Who knows? There may be parents who, even after the community quarantine is over and children are allowed back in school, realize that perhaps homeschooling is something they want to pursue. Could that parent be you?
Mcleod, S. (2017, February 5). Kolb's Learning Styles and Experiential Learning Cycle. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/learning-kolb.html
Photo by Jerry Wang on Unsplash
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Carla Denise Javellana