Administrating a homeschool classroom should be an exercise in flexibility, adjustment, and analysis. A homeschool classroom run with strict rigidity will ultimately provide a less individualized educational experience and create more stress for parent/teachers as they attempt to keep the calendar or schedule on track.
The main focus of a homeschool curriculum should be the needs and interest of the student; a more personalized education is the primary reason parents choose to homeschool. A flexible classroom will take into account the overall academic progress of the student but will also factor in the daily energy level, emotional status, and interests of the child. If a young child is having a particularly crabby day, an astute parent/teacher will avoid the homeschool tasks planned for the day that might further irritate her and instead choose an activity that will distract her from her bad mood while still providing instruction. A child who resists writing letters on a good day may have a complete meltdown during an emotionally fragile day so perhaps writing letters in sand, with shaving cream, or forming letters with play dough are better solutions.
Teenagers might not throw tantrums to display their emotions but will let you know how they are feeling with near-tantrum actions: door slamming, stomping, and pouting are clear indicators of a rough emotional state. Flexible parent/teachers will avoid administering tests on high stress days and could instead immerse a teen in a complicated project to distract him from the problems plaguing him or even assign several rote tasks to disengage his brain completely. Perhaps a long-term project such as rebuilding a car engine, refinishing a wood cabinet, or weeding a garden or flower bed could take the place of classroom time when middle school and teenage kids are overly tired, stressed out, or worried.
A flexible homeschool parent/teacher does not simply cater to a child’s emotional needs but finds creative instructional tools to continue learning despite the looming meltdown. A public school teacher or rigid homeschool parent/teacher who cannot make adjustments to the lesson plan to account for impediments to learning will struggle to get student’s to cooperate and comprehend.
In addition to adjusting for children’s temperaments, however, parent/teachers will also need to amend the curriculum based on the child’s learning style and progress. Parent/teachers who are determined to follow the curriculum and established calendar to the letter will continue to add information or content long after a child has checked out because she doesn’t understand the basic concepts. On the other hand, that same strict parent/teacher might be revisiting material that is entirely too basic for the child and a waste of everyone’s time.
A flexible and analytical parent/teacher will watch her children for signs of boredom and change things up when necessary to keep their attention. She will adjust the curriculum to meet the academic needs of her children and meet them where they are. She will incorporate their current interests into the math and reading curriculum to keep them engaged and adjust the difficulty levels as their comprehension either increases or stalls.
A flexible parent/teacher is the greatest asset a homeschool classroom has; an individualized education plan must be attuned to the needs of a child rather than a curriculum calendar.
For 15 years Mimi Rothschild has been privileged to help hundreds of thousands of homeschoolers educate their children at home. The MorningStar Academy is a private online Christian school offering diplomas and teachers. The Jubilee Academy is an online Christian curriculum provider offering over 150 full year online Christian courses for PreK-12.