Here are some areas or reasons you might not be successful in homeschooling.
You as the parent are too busy to offer the proper supervision or assistance.
It is easy to get distracted, even if we start out well. Some parents start out so enthusiastically, they structure themselves integrally to every aspect of the homeschooling. The parent is then essential for even the smallest amount of student progress. What happens if the parent is unexpectedly out of the picture? What would happen if the parent becomes busy with a critical distraction? What would happen if the parent later becomes tired or overwhelmed with all the daily responsibilities? Normally a homeschool parent does not have a substitute teacher like a school does. There is no one that can cover for the parent or give the parent a break, unless academics are sacrificed. In many cases, the parent will eventually send the student back to public school, which was something that would never have been considered before.
A good homeschool structure is to use a self-teaching curriculum that will allow the parent to concentrate on motivation and encouragement, yet allow the parent to be involved academically if desired or as time allows. A self-teaching curriculum is where the curriculum is designed to be the teacher. The parent is more of a supervisor. If the parent’s time is needed elsewhere, the student can still move forward. If the parent becomes sick, it is easier to have someone cover without having to “teach” or learn a complicated system. A self-teaching curriculum will allow the parent to homeschool through high school.
Most online schools offer teacher support or a teacher on call feature. Along with being available to help the student with occasional difficult concepts, the instructors can handle subjective scoring the curriculum cannot automatically score, which reduces the parent responsibilities.
You are having trouble motivating your student.
Even parents have times we don’t feel like doing anything. However, if it is a chronic problem with the student, it can be a huge problem. The friction from parent pushing can cause more attitude. Once again, a self-teaching curriculum can be a benefit. Most self-teaching curricula use a mastery-based individualized structure. These curricula often use a daily student goal. The student quickly learns the faster the work is finished the faster school is done for the day. Some programs even let the student work ahead to reduce work on another day that week. This structure helps motivate many students. Another critical structure that helps with motivation is using an online school or homeschool program that is more than just curriculum. Often these programs have minimum progress requirements for small periods of time. It is a big strength for the parent to have someone else that also expects a certain amount of work to be done. This can make the parent’s job much easier.
Some online schools or homeschool programs offer teacher support in some form. This can be an extra strength for motivation. Along with helping students with occasional concepts that are difficult, the instructors often offer encouragement and challenges for the student to meet goals. Just by having a real person that is monitoring work volume and quality, the student has an additional person to please.
A system of rewards can also be used. There are two main areas to focus on: meeting volume goals and getting higher scores. Some students need to work with very short term incentives, while others do better focusing on reaching long term, bigger incentives. Usually a combination is best. The goals to earn the incentives need to be achievable, or it won’t take long for the system to collapse. Some adjustment may be needed. Depending on the curriculum, there would be a short and long term incentive system for meeting volume requirements. There would also be a short and long term score or grade incentive. Some parents use a point system that is low maintenance for the parent where the student can earn points for different accomplishments. This system is used in conjunction with a shopping list of activities or rewards that have point values. There needs to be low value items so the “spender” type of student is motivated, but there also needs to be big items for the “saver” type of student. Examples to adjust from: A point would be given to complete the day’s goal by a certain time. Two bonus points would be given if all the week’s goals were completed on time. A point is given for every quiz or test score above 87%. Two points are given for 94% and above. Three points are given for 100%. Points can be given for other areas of need as they appear. Normally, you do not want to take back points as a penalty or the entire system can collapse.
You and your student are not getting enough outside activities.
When homeschooling, the parent and children can be with each other 24/7/365! That is a good thing, but can be like “cabin fever” for most of us. One approach is to find a combination of outside the home activities for the children. Depending on where you live, they can be educational, craft, or cultural activities. It might be able to be used as an elective. It is vital they are safely supervised! The best approach is to find activities that do not make the parent run all day providing transportation. Sometimes the parent can find other homeschool families that are like-minded to develop this activity day, so transportation and supervision can be pooled. It is vital to know these families well enough for safety and social concerns. The families can sit down together and develop their safety rules together, so no one is offended and all concerns are addressed. Depending on how many other families are involved, it can give the homeschool parent a regular day off each week. Even if there is a spouse that will be around on weekends, this regular activity day has several benefits. It keeps the weekends free to do entire family activities. It gives the students regular structured outside activities, possibly with educational and leadership opportunities. It frees up time for the parent’s personal needs and shopping.
If using a self-teaching curriculum, it isn’t difficult to have a spouse, grandparent, or other person supervise the students while they are working, so the main homeschool parent can have some time off.
Even if it is tempting to implement a system where the parent is teaching, it might be better to use a self-teaching curriculum. A self-teaching curriculum is like an insurance policy to protect your child’s education when the parent’s involvement fluctuates. A self-teaching curriculum will remove teacher duties from the parent, so more parental duties can be protected. A self-teaching curriculum will allow the parent to home educate the student through high school. A self-teaching curriculum can help with motivation issues.
The parent should prioritize encouragement and supervision. The parent still needs to make sure the student gets to work. The parent should monitor that academic goals are completed. As with any curriculum, the parent should monitor for skimming. The biggest clue the student might be skimming is lower quiz and test scores. Skimming is where the student is not using the curriculum properly. In skimming, the student skips or skims the reading assignment and jumps to the lesson questions.
Using an online school or homeschool program that is more than curriculum can provide an outside accountability system that is not a loss of authority for the parent! Most Christian programs consider themselves to be a “support” to the parent. A homeschool program that monitors progress is an additional motivational strength to the student. Some students need this more than others. Sometimes it takes more than Mom or Dad to meet daily or weekly goals.
Using a homeschool program that offers additional teacher support with the self-teaching curriculum is important, especially for middle and high school. Even if the student does not need much help, the teacher support might do all the tedious subjective scoring that would normally fall on the parent. There is extra motivational help with teacher support.
It is important to protect the ability to homeschool for the long-term. This is often decided by the structure the parent starts with. It is better to have more of a self-running structure that allows the parent to be involved as much as the parent can than a parent-run structure that will collapse when the parent cannot be involved as much later.
It is important for the parent to have some regular structured “me” time. This can be done with an activity day and/or a spouse or grandparent committing to supervising the kids regularly.
Overview of a good homeschool structure:
A good homeschool structure does not cost that much in comparison to even free public school. The money saved for transportation and school lunches in campus-based situations is often all it costs for the suggestions below.
- Use a self-teaching curriculum. Most self-teaching curricula are also called “mastery-based and individualized”. Allow the student to be done for the day when the daily goals have been completed. Watch for skimming to get done early.
- Use an online school or homeschool program that doesn’t just sell you curriculum and then leaves you on your own. Their extra services are invaluable. Look for a program that offers an academic counselor, so your student knows someone else is monitoring progress.
- Use a program that includes recognized standardized testing in the home that will reduce the hassle and time to have your student go to an unfamiliar school to fulfill state requirements. Normally, accredited schools or programs offer this.
- Consider using a teacher support or “teacher on call” support feature to help with subjective scoring, concept help, and motivation. At least make sure the school or program offers it to implement when needed. This is usually essential at high school level.
- Make sure you have a motivational system for quantity and quality.
- Make sure the main homeschool parent has some protected “me” time. Consider finding safe, supervised activities for the student that are educational or have a potential for leadership training.