Schoolwork: Keeping Kids on Track

“I have to feed the dog. “

“Oh, look! There is a squirrel in the yard!”

“This is too hard; I can’t do it!”

Have you heard any of these comments when you are teaching your son/ daughter? There are times when kids find every kind of excuse not to do their work. I have even had the kids volunteer to do chores they normally detest in hopes that I would forfeit their assignment.

“Haha! Nice try!” I would tell them.

So, how do you keep them on track without losing the battle or your mind?

Go over the day’s lessons and what you will be doing. We all do better if we know what will be happening.

Talk about your expectations. There are certain non-negotiable things you want from your child when doing schoolwork. This could be a good attitude, legible handwriting, etc.

Start with success. If your child is having difficulty finishing their work, it could be that they didn’t know how to do the lesson. Begin your lesson by reviewing something s/he knows. For example: If the short <e> is difficult, then review the vowels that are already know and teach to the level of success.

Do the lesson together. After you have taught the lesson, make sure you do enough of the problems that they can successfully complete the rest themselves.

Set a time to finish the assignment. Be sure that it is a reasonable time. If your daughter/son is having difficulty staying on task, redirect and set a timer.

Save it for tomorrow. If the task is not finished within a reasonable time, review the lesson the next day and see if the lesson was understood. If not, reteach, do some of the work together until they are successful and can do it independently.

Reward for completed work. We all have tasks that we don’t like to do and give ourselves a treat when we are finished (chocolate comes to mind lol). Of course, I am not talking about rewarding them for every little thing they finish, but if it has been an issue, then a small reward will help.

Praise your child. Draw attention to the fact s/he has completed their work and celebrate! It’s a big deal!

Have a great week! ~Lisa~

Establishing a Schedule

Photo by Mat Brown on

You may have been homeschooling for a few weeks now and noticed that you need some type of schedule or routine. In my early days of homeschooling I thought that I should set up a schedule like I did when I was teaching school. It looked something like this:

Math 8:00-8:50 Language Arts (Reading, Spelling, Grammar) 8:50-9:50

Snack/ Break 9:50-10:00 Writing/Handwriting 10:00-10:30

Social Studies 10:30-11:15 Science or Health 11:15-12:00

Lunch 12:00-12:30 Quiet Time/ Silent Reading 12:30-1:30

That schedule lasted a couple of weeks before I realized that school life at home is quite different from a classroom setting.

Consider blocks of times and subjects instead of specific beginning and ending periods. You will see that sometimes you breeze through subjects, so you might wrap up math is 30 minutes and other times you get involved with a topic (like dinosaurs) and just want to keep on going.

Choose a routine. Things run more smoothly when your daughter/son knows what to expect. For example you may choose to have these things be done prior to school: breakfast is eaten; bed is made; teeth are brushed, and bed is made. You can have an order of subjects that you follow each day, a snack time, and lunch is at/ around 12:00. You can vary this according to what works best for your family and schedule.

Plan a starting and ending time. Do you need to start precisely at 8:00? Of course not, but pick a time that is good for your family’s schedule and aim to start and finish at that time every day. I liked to start early so we could be done early. I also told the boys as they got older that I was available to them all morning, but after that, they were to wait until the next day to ask questions. Any work they did not finish during our school time was their “homework”.

Pick a place to keep school books and supplies. This may seem strange to put this under scheduling, but I thought it important to mention. Having a designated place for items will cut down on them being misplaced and time lost in looking for them. You can have a certain color for each of your child’s things if you have more than one child.(notebooks, binders, folders, etc.) If you don’t have the room for a lot of things, then purchase a milk crate or stackable cubes to put textbooks and binders in them.

Expect the unexpected. Some days things are not going to go the way you want or planned. That’s okay! There might be a lesson that is difficult and your daughter/ son just isn’t understanding it. Put the lesson aside and come back to it. You might need to look for additional resources to help with the concept, or just some time for it to make sense. There might be an unexpected opportunity to go on a business trip with your spouse; a family member comes to visit; a cool display is in town for the week, and so on can disrupt your school day. Take advantage of the opportunity and make it a learning experience.

Have a great week! ~Lisa ~

5 Reasons You are Qualified to Teach your Child

This question has been asked at least once by every homeschool parent in their homeschooling journey. But the answer is, “Yes!” You are definitely qualified. Let me allay your doubts about your abilities and qualifications.

1. You are a parent.

That is an obvious statement, but it’s because you are the greatest advocate for your child. You want the best for them and that includes a quality education. I bet if your son/ daughter said they would love to learn about dinosaurs you would be looking for videos, books, and resources to help foster that interest, even if you are not interested in it. That is a quality of a great teacher.

2. No one knows your child better than you.

You know when your child is getting overwhelmed; when they are interested in continuing; when they are interested in a subject and really, really really want to delve further into a topic. The classroom cannot provide more than just the necessary things needed for your child’s education since they have so many children to teach, specific topics to cover, and a limited amount of time for each subject. You have the choice to spend what time you need or want on a particular subject.

3. You can tailor your daughter/son’s education to fit them.

Perhaps you have a child who is squirmy, or a child who is quiet and doesn’t enjoy large, noisy discussion groups. You can make your child’s learning environment fit their unique learning style.

4. You don’t need a teaching degree.

You are uniquely qualified to instruct your daughter/son in more than just reading, writing, and arithmetic. Although, it goes without saying, teaching school subjects is essential and must be taught. Consider this, you instruct your child all day in matter such as: personal hygiene; caring for the house; being empathetic; serving others, and the list continues. Ohio has a provision that everyone, no matter your own education, can homeschool their child. CLICK HERE for more information and see item #9.

5. You don’t have to teach every subject.

There are a few people who can teach every subject from K-12, but that person is as rare as finding a real diamond ring in the box of cereal where there is a toy surprise inside of it. There are so many resources now that you can find a class for that particular subject. Here are a few ideas to help teach those difficult subjects.

  • Curricula Cathy Duffy Reviews has a list of curricula to help you decide which one is best for your family.
  • Online
  • Community programs and classes
  • Fellow homeschool moms
  • Co-ops (after all of the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted)

To learn more about the laws of homeschooling in your state, go to Home School Legal Defense or Home School State Laws.

Have a great week! ~Lisa~

Using Wordless Books for Language Arts

Students of all ages like well crafted wordless books. Young readers/ writers and those who are struggling can tell a story when given these types of books. There is not a right way to narrate what is happening and children do not have to create a story line since it is already in the book.

Here are some ideas to get your child talking and the pencil moving.

  • You can partner write with Post-it notes the events of the story. You can take turns telling the story and writing the details. If your child is reluctant to write, then you can be the scribe.
  • For new/ struggling/ reluctant writers, they can use Post-it notes and just write brief words that some of the characters would say. For instance, “Help!” or “Watch out!”
  • Write and/or illustrate a sequel to the story.

A favorite of mine and my students is Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner. Mr. Wuffles is a cat who has a plethora of toys, but is not interested in any of them. Well, he is interested in one, a spaceship. What ensues is sure to make your student want to tell you what is happening.

I hope you get to try this activity with your writer. Have a great week! ~Lisa~

Homeschool: Teaching Music

One of the requirements you may have to teach when you are homeschooling is music. You do not need to do anything so ambitious as enroll them in music lessons or teach them how to read notes. Although, if you want to do that, it would be great! You can introduce your daughter/son to musical instruments with books such as these titles. If you click on the books it will take you to the site to learn more about them and purchase if you so choose.

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss is a lyrical book teaching children about instruments and how each one adds to the richness of the orchestra.

Here is a video of the book that has a short musical piece as each instrument is introduced for children to see and hear it.

A Child’s Introduction to the Orchestra by Robert Levine is terrific book because not only does it teach about the various instruments in the orchestra, but it has song selections too.

Have a great week! ~Lisa~