A Holistic Approach for the New Homeschool Year
No more wondering, “Are we doing enough in our homeschool?”
It’s probably the single most posted question in the Time4Learning Families group on Facebook. Over and over, group members post some version of, “I’m worried that we’re not covering all our homeschool bases. Is Time4Learning really enough?”
The answer (in case you are having the same concerns) is a resounding, “NO!” That’s not because Time4Learning isn’t a comprehensive curriculum – – it certainly is. Rather, the idea of one educational curriculum being “enough” to homeschool a child is a notion you should probably throw out the window right now. To create a truly holistic approach to homeschooling, you’ll want to take a full, three-dimensional look at your child. When you do that, you’ll discover that your homeschooler has:
- a need to learn
- a need to experience
- a need to connect learning and experience to their life and their understanding of the world
Thinking of our children within that more expansive framework can help us immensely as we plan for the new homeschool year. When you understand that your overall goal is to educate the whole child, not just the part that learns facts and masters skills, you’re on your way to creating a comprehensive homeschool experience.
Besides the fact that your child or teen needs to make educational progress because the law says so, you’re probably well aware of how learning enhances our lives from the cradle to the grave. Thankfully, in terms of core subjects, Time4Learning’s online curriculum covers preschool through 8th grade with engaging, interactive lessons in math, language arts, science, and social studies. High school includes courses in these subjects as well as optional electives for health and economics/finance.
Even with a strong core curriculum, though, you’ll want to take into account your unique child’s needs when determining what other learning options to include in your homeschool plan. For example:
- Is their hand-eye coordination progress cueing you that it’s time to start handwriting instruction?
- Are they showing an interest in other cultures which indicates that foreign language learning might be worth adding to the mix?
- Do they have a specific educational weakness that might lead you toward supplemental learning options such as additional spelling help or targeted writing practice?
Determining how to best meet your child’s learning needs depends most of all on truly knowing that child’s strengths, weaknesses, interests, temperament, and motivation. Homeschooling, luckily, allows you to customize the learning to the child; what a bonus!
A Homeschooler Needs to Experience
If you’ve homeschooled for more than a minute, you’ve probably realized that it means a lot more than sitting around the kitchen table scribbling in workbooks. One of the chief perks of home education is the ability to provide your children with an experiential education. The more a child or teen interacts with their learning, the more they’ll internalize that learning, and the longer they will retain it.
Those experiences, of course, will look different from family to family and even from child to child. The ways to make homeschool an interactive adventure are limited only by your imagination. Here are a handful of ideas for getting your child involved in his or her own learning:
- Supplementing their Time4Learning lessons with related educational videos from services such as YouTube, PBS, Netflix, or Khan Academy.
- Taking field trips that are tied to what they are currently studying in their core subjects.
- Enhancing lessons with hands-on activities such as art projects, science experiments, cooking sessions, or Lego™ creations.
- Practicing skills they are learning with printable worksheets, online learning games, or even active games that build muscles in the brain and the rest of the body.
A Homeschooler Needs to Make Connections
Even the most interactive learning, though, won’t stick with your child unless they can personalize it. A well-rounded homeschool plan will include projects that help children connect what they are learning with real life. How to make learning meaningful for students will vary from child to child but, in general, meaningful education can be accomplished by:
- tying lessons to a child’s specific interests (for example, having a dinosaur lover use prehistoric figurines to practice addition skills)
- tying lessons to a child’s past experiences (for example, connecting a teen’s Time4Learning lesson on weather patterns to storm clouds they took photos of last week)
- tying lessons to current events in the world (for example, discussing with your middle schooler how a lesson on American colonization relates to current immigration controversies)
This homeschool year, paint your plan with a broad brush. Let Time4Learning handle the core curriculum, then base your decision about supplements on your child’s unique needs, interests, and skillset. Taking this kind of holistic approach will leave you confident, this year and every year, that yes, you are “doing enough.”