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Why I love homeschooling and hybrid schooling as much as I do

As this calendar year draws to a close, my appreciation for homeschooling and hybrid schooling (a mix of school at home and outsourced classes)  keeps growing.  As new students attend classes at Learn Beyond The Book, I feel so grateful for the opportunities we have, especially where we live.  An individualized education for each kid is possible!  It takes work, but so do most things that is worth anything in life.

Here are some things I love most about homeschooling/hybrid schooling:

  1. Kids can learn at their own pace and in their own style!

Everyone is so different!  As adults, we all know it, accept it, and even appreciate that about each other, but in schools there is so much pressure to conform to a certain standard and all at the same age.  When you homeschool or do hybrid schooling, you can truly customize education!  Then it’s not a one-size-fits-all education, but a have-it-your-way education!   It’s the way of the future!

If you, for example, feel that your child is advanced in Math, you can put them in the skill level class that you feel they need to be in by either getting the curriculum for that level or attending a skills-based Math class at Learn Beyond The Book or signing up for some sessions with a great tutor.  If you feel they’re a little behind in Reading, there is a class for every level.  If they’re really interested in Science, there is a class for that as well!  Homeschooled kids are so used to kids of all ages that they don’t even bat an eye if an older or younger child is in their class or on their level.  We always stress in all our classes at Learn Beyond The Book that you can only know something if you’ve learned it, so we make sure no-one ever has any comments like “You don’t know that?!”  That way every class remains a safe learning environment for everyone to be in, on an emotional level as well as academically.

On the other hand, if your child is extremely interested in Technology, why not build their education around their interest? Why not sign them up for a Minecraft Science Modules class if they are a Minecraft fan, or help them learn how to program their own Video Games?  If they love History, focus most of their learning around their interest and see their love for learning blossom!!  We love to provide all these different kinds of classes to homeschooled kids so that they can excel in their areas of interest.

 

  1. Homeschooled kids, especially as they get older, have more time to themselves  – no unnecessary busy work and homework that leads nowhere. Teens tend to know themselves better, because they have more time to focus on what drives them and what they like to do when no-one is telling them what to do.  This leads them to discover what their passion in life is or just what they enjoy doing and it could lead to a future career.  When some of my children were in high school, they took a lot of community college courses and even with a pretty full load they still had hours more per week to themselves than their public school peers.

What did they do with their time?  The one spent hours a day practicing singing in the band he was in, then moved on to spending hours on a flight simulator and starting to read airplane manuals, watching countless documentaries, reading books about people he admired, which all lead him to his desire to study Aerospace Engineering.  The other spent hours a day playing video games and hanging out on Skype with his friends after learning some special effects video editing, with which he has earned some money and he developed his art.   Then he dabbled in Filmmaking classes, learned all about lighting, editing, Photoshop, multimedia art, and more at the local community colleges. Now he studies concept design for the entertainment industry and uses, as he told me the other day, every single thing he ever delved into, even the map building software that was linked to a videogame he loved as a teen.  The focus was not on getting him to stop playing video games, because that would’ve been futile, but to make sure that he doesn’t just play but use it in some creative way, which I asked him to do every day at some point and he usually happily did that, because it was still linked to his big love of games.  He has now learned within days a complicated game development software and started building his own game while using his own concept design art for it, using all the skills he acquired in that time when many might have thought he was just wasting his time on games.  One interest leads to another and as long as we are helping to guide things to a healthy place, eventually they find who they really are.  If they are told constantly what to do and when, they barely know who they are, end up with years in college for a degree they aren’t that interested in and thousands of dollars in debt later, they end up in a career that they don’t love and when midlife hits, there is a crisis.

 

  1. The fact that homeschooled students have more free time than kids in traditional schools usually also allows them more time to spend with family and friends and as a result they develop really deep and meaningful relationships that often last a lifetime. Bonds between siblings are very close if nurtured properly by the parents, because they spend a lot of time together.  They are also often a little less influenced by what their typical teen peers and society would think is “cool” and enjoy simple wonderful things in life.  Because they are used to being around their parents and other adults, they appreciate parents more than most school kids who are gone from their parents for almost all productive hours of the day.  As they grow, it often becomes more important for them to have a little more independent time with friends, which is when nurturing classes and group social events come in handy (like the ones at Learn Beyond The Book), because they have healthy interactions with friends with the guidance of a compassionate facilitator.  All this make for kids who are socially very well adjusted because they are so used to interacting with all different ages from adults to younger kids with the mixed ages of families, classes, parkdays and social events.  They aren’t just used to interacting with their exact age peers.  As the excellent movie, ‘Class Dismissed’ put it, there is no need to group kids “by date of manufacture”.  I love that term!

In our classes at Learn Beyond The Book, all students are treated with the same respect we would give an adult, so all their opinions are treated as valuable and it makes such a big difference in how they perceive themselves and their fellow students, no matter what the age.

I can keep talking for much longer, but these are my top three reasons for loving homeschooling and hybrid schooling as much as I do!  More in my next blog, thanks for reading!

Spotlight on Math

 

Last week I wrote about the importance of Language Arts in the curriculum of every student and this week I want to highlight the importance of Math.

For a lot of students Math is a nightmare and they just can’t wait to be done with it for life.  I always tell them that they will never be done with Math, since we use it every single day.  There is a level of Math though that few people ever use unless they get into a career like Engineering, Architect, or Math teacher.  Even though it is not everyone’s favorite thing to do, it sure can be taught in more interesting ways than it sometimes is.  Some parents/teachers really hate it themselves and never quite got it down themselves and now years later, after not using it, they have forgotten a lot of it.  Math is like a second language and therefore needs to be taught as such, with constant repetition until it becomes second nature to the speaker. 

At Learn Beyond The Book our Math classes are taught by individuals who absolutely love numbers and Math and will impart that love and passion to their students.  We employ lots of games and projects as well as hands-on manipulatives for a lot of it, whenever possible. 

We also break Math down in the components & skills that make up higher Math.  We start out with a very strong emphasis on Place Value, which is essential to grasp and then Adding & Subtracting, plus things like reading clocks, counting money, etc.  Once students master these concepts and Math facts, they move on to the Multiplication & Division class.  Once they mastered those skills, which of course build on addition & subtraction, they are ready to move into the Decimals, % and Fractions class.  Then we introduce them to positive and negative numbers in the Integers, Measurements & Word Problems class, some basic Geometry, Graphs, and cement all of that with word problems.  Finally, they are ready for Pre-Algebra and higher Algebra and Geometry classes, which would be the next levels.  Just understanding that progression already helps a lot to know where everything fits in place.  Lots of curriculum teach a little of everything and don’t review enough for students to really master anything and so when they return to the same skillset the next year, they don’t remember it anymore and it is discouraging.  Mastery is such a crucial aspect of Math instruction. 

When I was in school, we learned Math more like parrots than thinking people and it was very confusing to most students and even though I loved the numbers and manipulating them, I didn’t have a clear understanding of what I was in fact doing.  So, my goal in teaching Math, is to make sure students understand what they’re doing and why, because without that, they’ll feel lost and never be able to apply it to real life situations.

Of course, there are the applications of Math as well, so we also have some creative classes that mix Literature with Math for those students who love stories.  We use the Sir Cumference series of books to demonstrate several Math concepts and do projects based on the story for the week.  Another class that apply Math in a very important way is the Economics & Personal Finance class, titled “Where’s the Money?”.  This class gives students all the skills they need to manage their own personal finances and even start a small business.  They learn through projects, games (money & review) and lessons.  Near the end of the semester, we have an Entrepreneur Day and also a fieldtrip to the Federal Reserve Bank planned. 

For those students who might really not like Math, the Math through Logic & Games class might be a great fit, since they play games, but learn Math at the same time.  The teacher, working on her PhD and a Mensa member is so fun and has as much fun as the kids with the games!

Even given all this, we also have Math tutors available to help with homework or for students who need a little extra practice during the week which can be scheduled by appointment.

Whether you sign up for a Math class or do it at home, please make sure your students master the Math skills before moving on.  To me there is no such thing as Gr.5 Math or Gr.2 Math, because every student is at a different level with it and either acquired certain skills or not. 

Patience and encouragement in teaching it is key to students’ success.  Happy teaching!