Maximize Teaching Time by Not Hovering… Just Walk Away

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.

In Closing

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!

In Christ,

Checking Middle School Work in a Quick and Efficient Way

From Our House to Yours

Checking Middle School Work in a Quick, Efficient Way

Emmett, my 12-year-old seventh grader, is using Heart of Dakota‘s Revival to Revolution curriculum this school year. He is in Unit 18 now, which is halfway through the guide. By now, we have really hit our stride in checking his work in a quick and efficient way. As more boxes of plans become “I” independent, we as homeschool moms still need to check to make sure the work is complete. However, checking work need not take forever! A homeschool mom I helped on the phone asked this very question. After I’d shared some ways I correct Emmett’s “I” independent work, she told me this would be a great blog post for me to write. What a good idea! Here goes!

First Teaching Block: Efficiently Checking Bible Quiet Time and State Study/Research

I find I can check work quickly and efficiently during my teaching blocks of time. By my first teaching time, Emmett has completed his independent Bible Quiet Time and State Study boxes. To check Bible Quiet Time I correct his Hidden Treasures, circling incorrect answers, underlining any misspelled words, and writing their correct spelling in the margin. I do the same with his Common Place Book, when it is assigned. He makes any needed changes, and I make sure they are fixed. Next, I ask him if he prayed using his Prayer Starters and if he practiced his Scripture verses. (Simply asking makes him accountable.) On Day 4, he says his verses for me with the Bible open between us (so I can see it and he can refer to it if he gets stuck).

Next, I check his State Study, which is super easy. Using the answer key, I circle any incorrect answers. I don’t write the correct answers in the margin for him. Instead, he uses his State Study resource to fix them. One day a week he does Research instead of State Study. To check his Research, I have him read aloud his bulleted notes on the back of his signer cards. (I find he writes more neatly knowing he will be reading aloud his answers to me.)  I then underline any misspelled words or misinformation; he can usually fix them on his own. (If he can’t, I have him look at The Signers book for help or jot the correct spelling on a sticky note or markerboard for him.) And just that quick, two “I” boxes are corrected efficiently already!

Second Teaching Block: Efficiently Checking Reading About History and Independent History Study

By my second teaching block, Emmett has completed Reading About History and Independent History Study. For Reading About History, assignments rotate. To efficiently check his written narration, I have him read it aloud to me. I either use the sticky note method or the markerboard method to edit it. He makes any corrections right away. If it is an oral narration day, I listen to his narration using Appendix guidelines. On the period artwork day, I underline any capitalization/spelling mistakes in his caption in his notebook. As the caption is copywork from his guide, I have him use his guide to fix any errors. Then, I ask him the questions from the guide. For the U.S History Atlas/globe assignment, I ask him the questions in the guide. Or, if we are short on time, I might just ask him if he did it. (Simply asking makes him accountable.)

For the Independent History Study box, assignments rotate. For copywork, I underline misspelled words and have him look up the spelling in the resource he copied from to fix it. Or, if it is a drawing/coloring day, I make sure he did what was assigned. (Note: This is not an art assignment. It is a response to history. So, if you have a less than perfect artist, as long as he/she did the work as neatly as possible and it is complete, that is ‘good enough!’) If it is an audio day or a ‘read the timeline’ day, I ask him to share a few of his favorite or most interesting things he heard or read. Or, if we are short on time, I might just ask him if he listened to his audio or read his timeline. (Simply asking makes him accountable.)

Third Teaching Block: Efficiently Checking Rotating History and Storytime

The rotating history box includes four different assignments. To efficiently check the Timeline, I make sure he drew and colored each entry. I also underline misspelled words and mark missing capitalization or punctuation. Emmett uses his guide to fix any errors. For Poetry, I ask if he read his poem. Then, I check his copywork of the poem. I underline/mark any spelling or capitalization/punctuation errors. Emmett uses the poem in his guide to fix any errors. For Geography, I use the teacher’s answer map to correct his student map. I ask any questions in the guide about the map or the atlas. For Worthy Words, I ask if Emmett read it. Then, I ask the follow-up questions in the guide. For Storytime, I still enjoy reading aloud to Emmett. So, after reading it, I ask the questions or listen to the narration. Two more boxes quickly and efficiently checked!

Fourth Teaching Block: Efficiently Checking Science Exploration and Inventor Study

Science Exploration Education has an answer key, so I just use the key to correct the Logbook. I circle any wrong answers, and Emmett fixes them. If I am not there to see the experiment, Emmett takes a few pictures of it and texts them to me. To check the Inventor Study, I ask if he read the assigned book. Then, I check his Inventor Student Notebook. I underline any misspelled words and mark any capitalization/punctuation errors. He uses his book/guide to fix them. If it is an oral narration day, I either listen to his oral narration or have him record it and text it to me. If it is a ‘review the timeline’ day, I ask him to share a few interesting things he remembers. And just that easy, voila! The last two “I” boxes are quickly and efficiently checked!

In Closing

In closing, I find it important I check each “I” independent box somehow. If I don’t, their work suffers. Either they start omitting things, or they don’t do their work as well. I find simply asking if they read the assigned pages helps with accountability. When asked, it is difficult for students to say they read the pages when they didn’t. They would actually then be lying, and they don’t want to do that. Likewise, checking the written “I” independent work for errors helps students learn to write more carefully. Fixing marked errors in copywork by using the book/guide helps them learn to to be more accurate. Students realize they might as well take care to copy things right the first time this way, rather than copy them wrong and have to redo it. I hope these few simple tips can help with checking independent work quickly and efficiently!

In Christ,