From Our House to Yours
Maximize Teaching Time by Not Hovering… Just Walk Away
My oldest son, Wyatt, has always been logical, even from a young age. He made one simple observation many years ago that became a lightbulb moment for me. He was working on his Bigger Hearts history notebooking assignment. My middle son, Riley, was running around the kitchen. Baby Emmett was crying. Wyatt gave me that little older-than-his-years sidelong grin and asked me why I was “hovering.” I didn’t know what he meant, so I asked. He told me he didn’t need me to “hover” anymore. I’d already explained his notebooking assignment. He knew what to do and was doing it. So, why hover? This is when I noticed I was actually standing over him, wringing my hands, kind of just watching him work. He went on to say, “I think Riley and Emmett need you more, don’t you? I’ve got this, Mom – just walk away.”
There is a time to hover, and a time not to hover.
Hovering has its place. It is necessary sometimes. When children are little, we must hover; they can’t do much on their own. Blessedly, teaching time is short when children are young. So, though we may need to hover, it won’t be for long. When children are beginning a new Heart of Dakota guide, it is also a good idea to hover. Training children to do new things is important. Everything we train them to do right will be done right all yearlong then. Therefore, hovering is worth it at the start. However, there is also a time not to hover. Once children learn how to do something well, we should not hover. Likewise, once we have gone through directions and seen they’ve made a good start to the assignment, we should walk away. No need to hover anymore.
One way to maximize your teaching time is to choose not to hover.
I can maximize my teaching time by setting up our schedule so I am less prone to hover. How do I do this? Well, I set up teaching blocks of time with each child that end with something they can finish on their own. Timeline entries, copywork, Common Place Book entries, the coloring of notebooking assignments, the drawing of science lab procedures, the labeling of maps, the final steps of a history project, etc. – all times to walk away. I start my teaching block with a teacher-directed (or a ‘hover’-type) thing or two. Then, I go through the directions for a more “S” semi-independent or “I” independent assignment. Once I see the child understands the assignment and has made a solid start, I walk away. I have other children to teach, other things to do. No need to hover!
Noteworthy Exceptions to the ‘Anti-Hover’ Rule
I do consider some things to be noteworthy exceptions to the ‘anti-hover’ rule. Even for children using more independent, older Heart of Dakota guides, there are times I need to hover. I find it best for me to stay for pretty much the entire Singapore Math lesson, even the workbooks. Singapore Math is challenging. Students must often complete multi-step, multi-skill problems. I’d rather be there to hover, to help at the onset of a misstep than to help backtrack multiple missteps later. Singapore Math doesn’t have many problems each day, so my ‘hovering’ is relatively short. I find the same to be true for high school math. Potentially dangerous science experiments (which Carrie often notes in the guide) and history projects that use the oven are other times I find it a good idea to hover.
I found it tempting to hover with the oldest, but the youngers needed me more.
I found it more tempting to hover with the oldest. He was always doing the ‘new’ HOD guide for me each year. I loved being there for all he was doing. The problem was he didn’t need me there… didn’t want me there. He needed some space to breathe, to grow up, to work independently without being constantly watched. This was healthy. Though it was tempting to always be focused on the oldest, I could see my youngers needed me more. I needed to give them the solid start I gave my oldest when he was younger. My youngers needed me to hover! My oldest, however, did not. Once I stopped constantly hovering over my oldest and instead made my time with him be focused on what he really needed me to teach him, things went better for everyone. He became more independent. I had more time to teach my younger, and the baby had me more to himself!
But what if a child is older and still needs you to hover?
This is possible. Sometimes an older child needs you more than a younger child. The younger child is maybe more focused, more a get-it-done worker, more a direction-follower, more driven. The older child is maybe less focused, more a dreamer, more lackadaisical, or more a how-about-I-do-this-a-different-way-that’s-more-MY-way person. What then? Well, you may need to oversee that child’s work more. However, the walk away is still important – even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes. Though that child may need you more, it isn’t fair to have you all the time. Not fair to you. Not fair to the child. And not fair to the other children. I have found that if I keep my high expectations and keep things moving along, in time, I can walk away. I hover a little less every day with the more familiar things, and we are all the better for it.
Try to take stock of how much time you ‘hover.’ See if you can master when to ‘walk away.” Maximize your teaching time, especially with your older(s), so you have enough time with your younger(s) like they need. Even if you are homeschooling only one child, try being conscious of the importance of not constantly hovering. Imagine someone constantly standing over you, watching you work all day long, giving you tip after tip of how to improve. That kind of hovering starts to feel like an invasion of privacy. Try using the “T”, “S”, and “I” letters to monitor how much time you stay by your kiddos’ side and how much time you walk away. Check out the suggested time allotments as another way to balance time together and time apart. Give your ‘hover’ time a check, and be encouraged by what a few changes can do!