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Burning Question #4: Learning at Home

Updated: Feb 22




Question: How can I simplify schooling my children at home? (Part 1)


The 2020-21 school year was the first of its kind for children worldwide, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. It felt like getting run over by a truck for many people. For families, it seemed like we all got run over, metaphorically. Adults, in the process, were triaging their children’s lives while trying to prevent illness, care for themselves, and recover massive losses: health, career, finances, their schedules, and their very identities, in some respects.


During all of this, many parents were called upon to be the manager of their child’s education at home. Even with hybrid and remote learning models in place, they discovered that much of the process of schooling is about leadership –as much as the ABC’s and 1, 2, 3s.


To answer this poll question will look different for every family. The age and number of the children, their developmental needs, the size and resources at home, as well as the those offered by the local education system-- all vary.


In fact, I may have readers of this blog worldwide, so the answer will be stated in broad terms. However, principles are far more durable than precise formulas. For help with that, feel free to connect with me to discuss your specific situation here (Quick Question) here (Free Discovery Session) or here (email).


Point 1: Begin With the End in Mind


Educating your child at home will need to become “project” status. As with any project, having a vision for the result you want is the best place to start. The good news is that as the parent, you get to decide what the end goal for your child’s learning will be.


You do NOT need to copy everything your local school is doing—and personally, I advise you not to. Your child is unique, and the values you hold as a family unit are also unique. If we replace the word school with “cake” (hang with me here, this will make sense in the end!), what do you want as the result?


If you went to a bakery and ordered a cake, they would be asking you follow-up questions: What size? What flavor? When do you need it? Do you want decorations on it? Is it a wedding cake, a birthday cake, or a cupcake? You would not just continue parroting "CAKE!" expecting them to know what you exactly want.


Different goals require different processes to create them. Get the analogy? YOU, Mom and Dad, need to decide the kind of learning you want your child to accomplish. If you only want a standard sheet cake, there are many irrelevant options that you don’t need to waste time on. If you want your child to have a very basic, Reading, ‘Riting, ‘Rithmetic education (at least for now) there are many bells and whistles in the industry that you can ignore. I firmly believe I could do a good job teaching a child with just the services at a public library. So can you.


I firmly believe I could do a good job teaching a child with just the services at a public library. So can you.


I can hear the objections—but what if I do a bad job? I am not a trained teacher like you, Lora. Where do I start?


Start with what you already know how to do as an adult. Can you read? Write? Pay bills? Cook or bake? Shop? These life skills are the result of basic education. Begin with what you know and find valuable. Explain it to your children. A huge bonus will be bonding time with Mom and Dad. This is how the generations before us educated their prodigy. Home schooling is not rocket science. For many years, it was the only option a family had.


For more specifics about what you need to teach your child and be following the law, I recommend you find out about your State’s annual exam. For example, in Arizona where I reside, it is (currently) called the AzMerit Test. Your son or daughter needs to be able to pass this test at grade level by the end of the school year.


In fact, you could give the mock, grade level equivalent test to your kiddo at the beginning of the year, find out where their gaps in understanding are, and work backwards from there.


If you have 100 different objectives to want your child to master, that’s a lot. It may not be feasible when you work full time. Start with 20 objectives-- or 10. Start with one. Success breeds success. It’s a process. You will zigzag; it won’t be linear. That’s the beauty of it.


Here is a link to the Arizona Department of Education as a rough example, but it is better to find out the requirements of your own local area or region whose education system you admire.

Point 2: Boil Down Curriculum to the Most Basic Goals


The next step to simplifying schooling at home is to NOT DO ALL OF IT.


That’s right, I said it. You don’t need to do even half of what you think you do in educating your children.


Going back to the cake analogy--cake is cake. I haven’t met one I dislike. If you gave me a fancy-schmancy one with multicolored icing, sprinkles, and fiery spark candles, that would be fun! And if you gave me an unfrosted basic cake? I’d eat it and I’d enjoy it because…it’s cake.


Part of the reason tasks like this seem so difficult is because of grandiose expectations we make of ourselves—or those we let culture tell us we should meet.


If you just need to get through the next year with your children, you can boil their curricular program down to two words:


Reading and math. That’s it.


But wait! What about writing? What about science and social studies?? And PE, music, art, underwater basket weaving, juggling, flame throwing…and the all-important bane of home-schooling’s existence --socialization…?!


Cue scary music.


Almost everything you would want your child to learn the can learn by reading and talking about what they read.

Almost everything you would want your child to learn they can learn by reading and talking about what they read. If all you do is have your child read every day, practice a little math, and talk with you about these every evening, that’s great!!


Permission granted. Let that set you free.


If you find your child has some deficits in their past learning – they can still only learn at the rate at which they personally learn. So, start where they are and move forward one step at a time.


If you have 100 different objectives to want your child to master, that’s a lot. It may not be feasible when you work full time. Start with 20 objectives-- or 10. Start with one. Success breeds success. It’s a process. You will zigzag; it won’t be linear. That’s the beauty of it.


You can do this!


This is how the generations before us educated their prodigy. Home schooling is not rocket science.


To be continued next week…

Point 3: Use Your Adult Schedule to Frame Your Plans

Point 4: Collect Resources

Point 5: Is It Working?