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Sunday January 21st 2018

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When Professional Teachers Teach Homeschoolers

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When Professional Teachers

Teach Homeschoolers

By Suki Wessling

homeschoolersUnlike the popular image of homeschoolers sitting at home and working around the kitchen table, my kids and I spend much of our days out in the community. Some of that time is spent working with professional teachers on specific subjects that they want to learn. I know that anything that I either don’t want to teach or am not capable of teaching will be offered by someone out there, either locally or online.

“Getting” Homeschoolers

As my children grow and become more and more homeschoolers and less and less schoolchildren, I’ve noticed that some teachers “get” homeschooled students better than other teachers. It can be quite a shock for teacher who’s used to going into a classroom full of students who expect to follow instructions and do what they’re told to find themselves in a room full of homeschoolers. Many homeschoolers, unlike most schoolchildren, haven’t been socialized to behave differently in a classroom than they do in other situations.

http://www.parentatthehelm.com/9838/3-ways-to-find-your-homeschooling-law-and-3-reasons-you-should/

See also 3 Ways to Find Your Homeschooling Law and 3 Reasons You Should

5 Tips for Teachers Working with Homeschoolers

So here are a few tips for you, if you are a teacher who finds him or herself working with a group of homeschooled kids:

1. Homeschooled kids expect to have fun

Even in the most dynamic, exciting classrooms, students learn to expect that there will be a fair amount of time they spend waiting, watching, and just passing time. Homeschoolers, for better or for worse, don’t develop these expectations. If a teacher expects them just to listen and not interact, or if there is a time during class when it’s not clear that their participation is important, it’s likely they will simply check out. And since they’re not used to the rules of school, checking out might mean that they get up and walk out! School children have learned to put up with the less exciting parts of school; homeschoolers vote with their feet.

2. Homeschoolers are not passive learners

On the one hand, homeschoolers have enviable learning experiences: they are pretty much never expected to sit passively and absorb things. On the other hand, homeschoolers never get a break: their teacher never ignores them, so they are always expected to be on–task. If you are planning a class for homeschoolers, you should take this into consideration. Homeschoolers are used to being involved, and they expect not to be ignored. So yes, they are more likely to talk during a video, or interrupt you when you are explaining something. But they are also more likely to be deeply involved, because they haven’t seen a model for any other way of learning.

3. Homeschoolers do not fit into standard grade levels

Homeschooling parents have no reason to force their students into any sort of conformity. If a child has difficulty with one area of learning, homeschoolers generally feel comfortable letting that student be behind in that area. They are often similarly advanced in their areas of strength. So if you were teaching a class where you think your students are going to be in “4th grade,” you may be surprised. Some of your fourth-graders will be doing middle school math, and some will have difficulty writing a legible sentence. What research shows is that generally kids do catch up, and you don’t usually end up with an adult who cannot write a legible sentence or an adult who doesn’t know her multiplication facts. When the order of learning and the speed of learning are not enforced on a group, you get a much wider variety of levels within that group.

4. Homeschoolers very seldom watch TV, and probably don’t recognize the names of most famous people

Do you know about this person?

Blank stares.

I’m sure you know about this person!

More blank stares.

You are probably not going to connect with homeschooled kids the same way you connect with school kids. Although, of course, there is a huge variation amongst homeschool families, homeschooled kids are much less likely to watch commercial television, to follow popular music, or to care about celebrities. Now, if you ask them about the sort of celebrities that interest them, say, Sal Khan or Jim Weiss, you might just get a reaction! But depending on popular culture to make connections with your students just won’t work in a homeschool classroom.

5. Homeschoolers are really fun!

The thing is, we wouldn’t do this if it weren’t fun. Our families give up a lot of potential income, they give up fitting into the norm by going to their neighborhood public school, and they give up the ease of following the well trodden path through school to college. So why do we do this? We do it because it’s such a great thing to do with and for our kids. And most of the time, our kids actually get it. They know they’re living the life, and they’ll be very happy to share it with you. As long as you are open-minded, and treat them as the creative, funny, smart, weird, and also completely normal kids that they are, they will be totally into having fun with you.

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