Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: Homeschooling when Mom is away

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Homeschooling when Mom is away

Last month I had to prepare my husband and my kids for a week without me, as I planned to spend my days at the hospital with my mom while she recovered from open heart surgery. Like most of the homeschooling moms I know, I spend the majority of my time with my kids, rarely getting away for more than an afternoon or evening at a time. And even if I do leave town for a couple of days, perhaps to attend a convention or fulfill a speaking obligation, I typically don't worry about keeping the kids' school schedule on track during my absence.

But knowing that I would be gone for nearly a week, or maybe more, and not wanting to burn time off that I would rather spend doing fun things this spring, I decided to keep my chindren homeschooling all throughout my time away.

Whether you have to be away for just a couple of days or an extended period, here are a few good ideas that may help you keep your homeschooling routine on track while you are gone. They helped me, and I was glad to come back from my week away and not find the kids a week behind in school.

Work ahead if you can

If you know you have a scheduled absence coming up, one thing you can do to keep your kids on track for the semester is work ahead on the subjects they cannot do independently. I did this with my teens. I'd laid out a schedule for the semester for their algebra class, and didn't want them to be overloaded upon my return.

Since they were at the point in algebra where they were learning new concepts, and needed instruction, we did extra lessons in the few weeks leading up to my mom's surgery, so they would be clear to take a week off when the time came.

Schedule independent work

It was easy enough to schedule work during my week away that my teens could do independently, since they are at a level in their education where they do most of their work on their own. All I really had to do for them was provide an outline of expected assignments for each day, and turn them loose.

For my youngest, finding work she could do on her own, without too much distraction, was a little more challenging. At age nine, she can read relatively well on her own, but tackling new concepts independently would have been more difficult. The next few sections of her math book, for instance, were not lessons she could do alone. However, she is very good at working on geometry problems and measurements, which would have come later in her book, so I assigned those pages instead.

It's okay to skip around, or even assign work in a completely different subject if it is something your child will have an easier time doing independently, or with a teacher other than Mom.

Consider literature

Your time away may be the perfect time to assign a new book. Consider focusing on literature, especially if the person who will be watching your children is willing to read aloud to them, or play an audio book for them to follow along. Older kids, of course, can just read on their own, but an audio book might be a fun way to pass the time together anyway.

Use Google Docs

If you have internet access and some down time, you can easily check your kids' work if they type it into Google Docs and share with you. Last year, my children's state history book had a series of essay questions at the end of each chapter. I taught them to use Google Docs to compose their answers, which I would then read and grade from the comfort of my bed at night. I could send back notes, ask for more information, and more.

Try a unit study

You might have more luck engaging the person who is watching your kids if you let them teach a unit study on a subject that interests them. Whether they are a history buff or a film fan, there are all sorts of unit studies available to download online. Why, there's even one on the history of rock and roll!

Let them have fun

Your temporary tutor doesn't have to usetextbooks or even a unit study to teach about a subject they love, though. They could spend time with your kids watching documentaries, exploring local museums, discussing videos on YouTube or even playing games. Playing dominoes is a great way to build math skills, and Scrabble can help increase vocabulary if it's done right.

Provide your kids with work they can do on their own, and plenty of flexibility so they can explore new subjects with the person who is caring for them in your absence, at whatever level they want to be involved. You might come home surprised at just how much they learned.

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