For better or worse, like it or not…we’re all homeschoolers now.
As a veteran homeschooler (to be fair and accurate, my wife, Gia, has been our primary homeschool teacher; and she’s been GREAT), here’s a little advice: Don’t panic. Don’t stress. Don’t worry about following a rigid curriculum. Don’t worry about “teaching to the test.”
Getting a good education isn’t about getting “good grades,” a diploma or a degree.
Your kids are gonna be fine. They have an infinite capacity for learning.
Don’t try to do it all. Don’t stress over “missing something.” Just stick to the basics: reading, writing and ‘rithmetic. Then throw in a few electives – like side dishes to the main meal.
If your kids haven’t learned to read yet, read to them. A LOT. Morning, noon and night. Everything and anything. From “Run Spot Run” to the Wall Street Journal. Just make it fun. For both of you.
Once your kids have learned to read, encourage them to read. Every day. But don’t force them to read something they have no interest in. The important thing is for them to learn to LOVE reading.
If they love to read books, great. But if they prefer magazines, or even comics, so be it. As long as they’re reading. Sports, mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, sci-fi, westerns, whatever.
You can always direct them to specific books and topics AFTER they learn to LOVE reading. But they won’t learn to LOVE reading if you force them to read boring, dry textbooks.
Next, writing. Write, write, write. A daily journal or diary is great. Or give them a writing “prompt.” Cassandra Lipp has a bunch of them at www.writersdigest.com/prompts. Here’s an example…
“Fake Vacation: Write a scene set somewhere far away from your character’s home. Be sure to include the sights, smells, and sounds of the setting to give your piece a strong sense of place.”
Don’t score on penmanship, grammar, punctuation or spelling. Gently correct. The main thing is for them to WRITE. Write, write, write. Hand-writing is best, but typing into a Word document is fine – though the spell-check option might disguise a spelling deficiency.
Forget algebra, geometry, trig and calculus. Nail down the basics first. One plus one equals two. Two times two equals four. Buy or create flash cards to get addition, subtraction, multiplication and division down cold. The rest will take care of itself down the road.
Physical education. Simple: Walk.
A good friend of mine, Dr. Ben Chavis, ran one of the most successful charter schools for low-income kids in Oakland a few years ago. There was no gymnasium in the building or playground. So every day the kids just went for a walk around the neighborhood for Phys-ed.
If you want to add some calisthenics, push-ups, sit-ups…fine. Just get ‘em off their butts and moving around.
Home economics. Again, simple: Cook. Simple meals. Cakes, cookies, brownies. Hot dogs, hamburgers. Then move up. If they’re too young to do so themselves, let them help so simpler things: Measuring, mixing, etc.
And don’t forget household chores! Dishwashing, laundry, taking out the garbage, mopping the floor, vacuuming, etc.
Social studies. Simple: Watch 30-60 minutes of news every day. But I highly recommend avoiding “fake news.” Stick with FOX. Avoid CNN.
For more advanced studies, there are all kinds of options online. Check out the Kahn Academy (www.khanacademy.org). It’s free.
The worst mistake you can make is making learning a chore rather than an adventure – which is also the biggest mistake made by government schools. Kids have different interests and learn at different paces. Don’t force the issue.
Make learning FUN. Get them to learn to LOVE learning. What they learn is less important then sparking their desire to learn.
And when all else fails, don’t yell, scream and force the issue. Use the oldest trick in the book: Bribery. Let’s make a deal.
“You read for an hour and you can play video games for an hour.” “Write your story and get a dish of ice cream.” “Watch an hour of Animal Planet and you can watch your zombie show.”
Don’t let “professional” educators, government bureaucrats, union stooges and the Washington Post (boneheads) scare you into thinking that teaching your kids is “too hard” and you can’t do it.
Of course you can. You’ve been doing it since they were born!
I’m not saying it’s a piece of cake. But it ain’t rocket surgery either.
And if there’s a silver lining behind this Wuhan virus dark cloud, a LOT of parents are going to decide to KEEP teaching their kids at home and NOT send their kids back to their neighborhood failure factory once the government schools reopen.
For that, we can all be grateful!
Lastly, if you ARE thinking about continuing to homeschool your kids in the Las Vegas area beyond the corona-scare crisis, check out the RISE Resource Center (riseresourcecenter.org) – we’ve been using them for years – to get more information, support and assistance.
Here’s the bottom line: When your kid is homeschooled, the whole world is their classroom.
And the best learning experience you can get today is still a good book under a shade tree.
FAMOUS LAST WORDS
“From the day you became a parent, you also became a teacher, and you are equipped to be a teacher.” – Anne Campbell
“Don’t question your ability to teach your child. Question putting your child into the same system that left you feeling incapable of teaching your child.” – Anonymous
“It is far more valuable to nurture a love of learning than a love of getting the correct answer.” – Grace Koelma
“Every student can learn, just not on the same day or in the same way.” – George Evans
“There is no such thing as a child who hates to read. There are only children who have not found the right book.” – Frank Serafini
“We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading.” – B.F. Skinner
“We must be careful not to discourage our twelve-year-olds by making them waste the best years of their lives preparing for examinations.” – Freeman Dyson
“It shouldn’t matter how slowly a child learns as long as we are encouraging them not to stop.” – Robert John Meehan
“It’s true there is just not enough hours in a day to teach children, clean the house and cook well. The difference between me and other mothers is that I’d rather hire out the cleaning than the children’s learning.” – Theresa Thomas
“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain
“Schools have not necessarily much to do with education. They are mainly institutions of control, where basic habits must be inculcated in the young. Education is quite different and has little place in school.” – Winston Churchill
CORRECTION: In the last Muth’s Truths I noted the percentage of positive Wuhan virus tests was less than 1%. Blame an editing error, plus the fact that I went to public school.
The percent of positive test cases is under 10%, not 1%. The 1% figure was the percent of actual deaths reportedly attributed to the WuFlu. Either way, neither justifies Gov. Sisolak’s draconian order to destroy Nevada’s economy.
(Mr. Muth is president of CitizenOutreach.org and publisher of NevadaNewsandViews.com. He blogs at MuthsTruths.com. His views are his own.)