One of the great parts about homeschooling is that you don’t really have to worry about snow days. Everyone loves snow days, but they can really interrupt the flow of your curriculum. That said, snow days can provide a really important opportunity to add ‘balance’ to your child’s life. Especially, so for high school students who are working really hard.
That said, you may not want to interrupt your curriculum. I found what works best is a compromise. Don’t think that your child won’t know that the public school kids are out for the day. What I learned worked best was offering the student the morning off. Sleep, play games, read, do whatever. During that time I took 30 minutes to 1 hour to come up with a very interactive or ‘fun’ lesson that supplemented the curriculum that we were already working on. I didn’t simply go into the existing curriculum, but did something more hands on and interactive.
Summer is summer for a variety of reasons. It should be time for your children to find balance in their lives. I know many families that continue school work through the summer and do a good job with it. Personally, I feel as if the summer is more of a time for personal growth and experimentation for children. It’s a time to allow them to develop their interests. Read what they want to read, play what they want to play, create games and activities on their own as opposed to being directed.
Personally, I use the summer to work on Christian homeschooling curriculum. This is nice because things with my kids are slower and I am not always worrying about this or that lesson. It’s time to do some real theoretical thinking on my curriculum and goals for the next year.
Challenging Your Homeschool Student
It is one of the most difficult things for homeschool teachers to manage: the right degree to challenge your students. It is well known that a strong homeschool curriculum is one that is challenging and rigorous. But if we challenge our students too much, thereby focusing on the ‘product’ of good test scores, etc. do we neglect the ‘process’ of developing strong Christian adults. The number one thing you want to avoid is not challenging your students at all. In private schools they often speak of ‘teaching to the high end’ — meaning the high end of the class. I recommend that you twist this to focus on teaching to the high end of your child’s intellectual ability. It goes without saying that you can only push so hard and that continued pressure and challenge is only met with diminishing returns. There is no silver bullet to answer these questions, but it is quintessential that we remain cognizant of them.
Many people ask me about the benefits of Christian homeschooling. The reality is that these conversations usually turn into addressing people’s trepidation about the idea of ‘Christian’ homeschooling. What people need to remember is that Christian homeschooling is one of the greatest manifestations of liberty and freedom in the US. That means that whatever Christian homeschooling means to you, then that is what you implement. You are not under any strict rubric to determine the level of religiosity in your teaching. Clearly, this is one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling. It gives you the opportunity to direct your child’s learning based on your own family’s values, not the values of the local school board or government. That’s not a swipe at my own local school board, but merely a recognition that I am the best person to share my values with my children.
Teaching History: Don’t Forget the Narrative
Teaching history in your Christian homeschool setting can be difficult. Some of the best activities in history class necessitate group learning. The sheer amount of facts that come into play, especially with the advanced curriculum in history (high school, AP), can be daunting to teacher and student alike. One of the ways that I have overcome this problem is through the use of narrative. Historical narrative, or stories, can be extremely instructive when teaching concepts. Moreover, it provides a depth of knowledge that purely analytical learning cannot. This does not necessarily take away from learning dates, facts, and figures, but can help improve your student’s cognition of these more rote items. Coming into a unit with a good basis of knowledge, using a story to underscore a concept, can be incredibly impactful. I suggest you give it a try.
I will give one example here. There was a great story in the Wall Street Journal about the inauguration of President Andrew Jackson. One of the main themes of this presidency was the ‘Jacksonian democracy’ and the emergence of new people into the democratic process. This is best exemplified in a narrative format by discussing Jackson’s raucous inauguration party that included all members of society, even those rough a tumble type who had stayed away from politics previously.
Christian Homeschooling Curriculum Planning Begins Now
If you haven’t started planning your curriculum, I suggest doing so immediately. Many ambitious homeschooling teachers will start making their entire curriculum before the summer, to truly have a great summer vacation. Online homeschool curriculum also, however, may be able to make things easier for you. No longer do we have to come up with everything on our own, but a good mix of online curriculum sources and our own innovativeness can make a robust curriculum.