Are you homeschooling your child for the first time this year?
A homeschooling mom for the last 10 years, Shaveh Feder shares some of her top tips for newbie homeschooling parents this year.
Parents in many countries are by now familiar with the difficulties of having had to homeschool their children as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But for years, some, including in South Africa, have chosen to educate their children at home successfully and found joy and fulfilment in the challenge. Mom-of-three Shaveh (pronounced as shar-vay) Feder is one of them.
Shaveh, the self-described parent to “three unique humans whom I’ve been homeschooling full time for 10 years”, says she and her husband, a pastor and music producer, decided to start homeschooling when their oldest was three years old.
“So many times people ask me questions, so I’ll use the most common ones to sum up my list of tips for parents who’ve had to jump into the deep end of homeschooling their precious gifts,” she says:
Why did you start homeschooling?
We had several reasons – but our main one was to cultivate a healthy relationship with our children. Education came second. Relationship was first. We’ve found this helps us when it gets hard because when we’re in tune with each other, the learning and teaching flow a lot easier. It’s important to know why you’re doing what you’re doing, because if you aren’t sure, the journey can become filled with frustration, distraction and demotivation when the hard times hit – and trust me, they will!
What about tests and exams?
Putting your children in stressful environments is a good life skill, but do it at their pace. Doing it unnecessarily at the expense of them cultivating and absorbing fully what they learn can demotivate them. As I always say, “tests and exams are there for the teacher to be able to feed back to the parents exactly how the child is doing. Since I am the only teacher and know my own child, I know if they’ve caught the concept or not”. With this in mind, don’t be afraid to go over a concept until your child is completely sure and has it waxed. If the child loves to be tested and marked – then do it. You will know what they need the more you get to know them and where they’re headed.
The best socialising skills are learned in the home – especially if there are siblings. I do understand that with an only child it can be a little more complicated. But get involved in clubs or extra-murals that interest your child. When I say get involved, I mean you too as the parent. If you can be present, observe who your child connects with and, in turn, see if your families connect. My children have more homeschooled than schoolgoing friends, but as the parent I had to be intentional with each one to make and check the connections.
What curriculum do you use?
There weren’t as many amazing free resources available to us when we started out. We use a hard copy curriculum that I took the time to research and see what would work for us as a family. Research is important when you’re coming out of a “school” environment – take the time to “unschool”. It sounds like a strange word, but it’s important to get to know your children and how they like to learn. This will gently steer you in the right direction. During this time, get them books that they want to read and let them use free resources online to dabble in their basic subjects, like maths and English. You’ll see, around the third month – after you’ve checked out what’s out there – you’ll know where to put your energies for each child.
There are so many amazing free resources available, like the Vodacom e-school website. Use them and see how your child responds.
The main thing to focus on when homeschooling is that you are your child’s best advocate. If you struggle to find solutions, seek professional help. We can’t be strong and amazing at everything and if you sense something isn’t right, get it checked out. It’s worth investigating the issue early and encountering a speed bump along the way, than later regretting time lost to sort out the problem.
Happy homeschooling, friends!
With the Vodacom e-school, you can learn anywhere – on your smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. Plus, Vodacom customers don’t pay for any data or content when using the e-school! Check it out here.
Read more about Shaveh Feder and her family on their blog www.federfun.com .