Do you have too much together time?

Teaching Tip:

Do you have too much together time?

When homeschooling your family, typically there is automatically plenty of “together time.” It is interesting to think about how constructive some of that “together time” really is. Sometimes there can be too much together time! Just as adults crave time alone, students do too. When we as teachers make everything a group activity, school can quickly fall into the category of too much together time.

Choose group activities wisely.

It is important to actually choose when to have an activity together and when to have students work alone. There definitely should be some subjects where a student is able to work alone in a quiet environment.

Be creative in finding quiet work spaces for your children.

You might have to get a bit creative in finding space for your students to have quiet work time alone. I know we had to use my bedroom for one of our older students as a work space! At the time, it was the only quiet spot in our busy household of boys!

Train your children to make good use of their quiet work time.

Often students need to be trained to make good use of their quiet work time. It is wise to keep track of your students when they are first trying to work alone. To help me keep track of my students, I sent my boys up to their quiet space with a timer. The timer was set for the length of time their work was supposed to take. I also set a corresponding timer downstairs to remind me to check on the child after the allotted time. When the timer rang, the child had to check in with me. If the child hadn’t successfully progressed, then he had to work near me for the next subject. This helped train my children to make good use of their quiet work time.

Train your children to be diligent workers.

Through this process, my boys have learned to crave a quiet work environment and to be diligent, independent workers. Try training your children to work alone, and see if they learn to desire a quiet work space too! You may find that when you balance together time and alone time your students will be more attentive during group time too.

Blessings,
Carrie

Give your students two desirable choices.

Teaching Tip:

Encourage your students to keep a positive attitude.

As we near the end of our school year, my kiddos need extra encouragement to keep a positive attitude! It is possible that your students need encouragement too! Today, I’ll share a quick tip that works well to encourage students of all ages to cheerfully comply or obey.

Give your students two desirable choices.

To avoid power struggles, it helps to give students two choices (both of which are desirable to you). This means that while the child gets the power to choose, you also retain power because either choice is acceptable to you.

The choices strategy works especially well for young children.

This strategy works for kiddos of all ages but can be used repeatedly with little ones (all throughout the day). Here are some examples of providing two desirable choices to little ones.

At naptime you can say, “Would you like to walk up the stairs, or do you want me to carry you?” This diverts the child from the issue of not wanting to go to nap. Instead, your child will be focused on the choice of whether to walk or be carried. The napping is a foregone conclusion.

Or, for a child who is always asking for juice, you can say, “Do you want milk or water with your lunch?” This rules out other beverages and focuses on what you will accept as choices.

The choices strategy also works with older children.

With older children, you can ask, “Would you like to do math or science first?” For a child who does not like one of those two subjects, the choice allows them to delay the unloved subject. Then, when the unloved subject arrives, they know they chose for it to be in that order.

The choices strategy also works well with mature students.

For even older students, you can ask, “What is the most important thing you wish to do today during your free time?” Then, as a parent you can be sure to get that one thing in that day. This forces the child to prioritize and choose what is most important. It also helps the child realize that you worked to be sure that he/she got in what he valued that day.

Try giving your students limited choices.

Try giving your students limited choices, and see whether you notice a change. Hopefully, you’ll notice a more positive attitude which will help end your year on a positive note!

Blessings,
Carrie

Take a moment to introduce each subject.

Teaching Tip:

Take a moment to introduce each subject.

One thing that will help your school day go more smoothly is to take a minute or two to introduce each subject. Subjects that repeat and your child gets to know well will need less introduction. Even routine subjects can benefit from a brief reminder of what you are expecting and what needs to be accomplished.

Go over needed directions prior to beginning an assignment.

Often, it is especially helpful to go over directions prior to beginning the subject. This way the child knows what is ahead and what he/she will be asked to do. You can also help your child by setting out needed books and notebooks open to correct pages.

Be sure your child begins the assignment right.

Next, stick around to be sure your child begins any assignment right. Check the first few lines, problems, or answers to be sure they are done right. For subjects of difficulty, stay nearby to redirect as needed.

Students working independently can still benefit from brief introductions.

Independent students still benefit when you point out things they might miss in the guide that day. During a meeting time with older students, you can correct completed work and briefly go over remaining assignments.

Set your child up for success by minimizing frustration.

Briefly going over subjects helps set your child up for success. When your child knows what to do, he/she can get started right. Getting started right often means your child will make fewer mistakes and will finish earlier. You will also save time not having to reteach incorrectly done subjects later. Try briefly introducing subjects at your house. Then, take time to get your child started right. See if it minimizes frustrations and reteaching later!

Blessings,
Carrie

Tell your children what you want them to do.

Teaching Tip:

What should you do when your children need correction?

Today I’ll share a simple tip for correcting children that I picked up during my public school teaching days. It is a tip that remains incredibly helpful to me every day of homeschooling! This tip is so simple that it almost seems like it couldn’t be a real tip. Yet, it will yield big results if you use it (and you can start today)! So, here it is… Tell your children what you want them to do, not what you don’t want them to do.

Tell your children what you want them to do.

If a behavior that you do not want to see crops up, direct your children toward the behavior you do want to see. Instead of saying, “Don’t do that!” say, “Please do this.” For example, if your children continually rush about the house loudly, instead of saying, “Don’t run!” instead say, “Walk.” Or, if your children write very messy, instead of saying “Don’t write so sloppy,” instead say, “Please write neatly.” Or, if your children speak to you inappropriately, instead of saying, “Don’t talk back to me!” instead say, “Please use respect when talking to me.”

The mind is a powerful visualization tool.

The reason this is such an important tip is because the mind is a very powerful visualization tool. It automatically pictures what is said. To show you what I mean, ponder this scenario. If I say to you, “Don’t run,” what is your mind picturing? It is probably picturing you running, isn’t it! However, if I say to you, “Please walk,” now what are you picturing? You’re picturing yourself walking, aren’t you! The words you use when you give directions to your children are powerful. Your directions should help your kiddos picture themselves behaving the way you desire, so they can act on that desire.

Paint a positive picture in your children’s minds.

Watch yourself today as you direct your children. See how many times you catch yourself painting a negative picture of their behavior rather than a positive picture in their minds. Then, change the way you give directions. You will find this tip will change your homeschool attitude and your kiddos’ attitudes too! Try it today, and see what you think!

Blessings,
Carrie

How do you deal with life’s unexpected surprises?

Teaching Tip:

How do you deal with life’s unexpected surprises?

Life is full of unexpected surprises! Some of these surprises are wonderful and others are not. There can be unexpected job changes, financial situations, moves, pregnancies, illnesses, issues with children, educational decisions, and relationship challenges. In our 20 years of homeschooling, we have dealt with every one of these surprises. So, how do you deal with life’s unexpected surprises? Today’s teaching tip will share a way to do just that!

What unexpected surprises are you facing today?

As we continue to be in and out of the hospital with our son Greyson, we never know what our day might hold. Will we be packing in a hurry to rush out the door? Will we be wondering how many days we will be gone? Will we be home but waiting on doctors to call? Will we be able to teach our boys for the day? Or, will we be calling on others to help as we make the 4 hour drive to the hospital? In the midst of these uncertain days, my sister gave me some wonderful advice from a devotional she’d read! She said, “Trust God with the future and plan for the day.”

Trust God with the future.

I must admit that I get overwhelmed when I try to look too far ahead these days. Yet, God is not overwhelmed! He knows what the future holds. So, when I trust God with the future, my burden is lighter. When I stop considering all of the possibilities ahead and just plan for the day, I do much better.

Plan for just one day.

Blessedly, the Heart of Dakota plans are written to show just one day. When I focus on doing one day at a time, I feel more able to do what the day holds. When someone else has to jump in and teach, it is easier for that person to focus on one day too. For the child who suddenly has a different teacher than expected, it is easier to think about only one day.

What can you do when you are facing an unexpected surprise?

So, when you are facing an unexpected surprise, just work on getting through that one day. Try to think of school as a series of single days. After all the Bible promises God will give us what we need for the day. So, the next time you feel overwhelmed by one of life’s unexpected surprises… remember to trust God with the future and plan for the day.

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, 

Because his compassions fail not.  

They are new every morning; 

Great is Your faithfulness. 

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul. 

“Therefore, I hope in Him!” – Lamentations 3:22-24

 

Blessings,

Carrie