Demystifying Homeschooling: Learning to be a Learning Coach

February 2018

Demystifying Homeschooling: Learning to be a Learning Coach

Learning to be a learning coach

Taking responsibility of your children’s education can feel like an enormous obligation – which it is! But it is not something which should overwhelm you. As a home-schooler, it is important to remember that you are not your children’s teacher in the traditional sense – the K12 programme takes care of that by providing lessons, syllabus, curricula, and all the support that runs alongside. However, the role and the duties it entails should not be underestimated. You are taking the lead in driving your children’s academic achievement, and as a learning coach, you are there to guide them towards their academic progress. The oversight, prompting, encouragement, and structure you provide will play a vital part in ensuring the success of the home-schooling programme.

But this is a learning process, not just for your children, but for you as well. Becoming a ‘superstar’ learning coach doesn’t happen overnight and will require a little time and effort. Be patient with yourself – the adjustment won’t happen overnight, but once you find your feet in this exciting role, most parents find their involvement in their children’s virtual schooling to be very rewarding. Here’s a little advice to get you going on your journey to becoming a learning coach.

Open the lines of communication

Communication plays an enormous part in home-schooling.  You will need to make sure from the outset that your children are able to talk to you when they are struggling, or have not mastered the topics you will cover. As they get older, it is also crucial that you can prompt students to speak to teachers directly should they think they require additional support. You will need to encourage this and reassure the child that asking for help is not a problem when they are struggling with any concept or its mastery.

It is also important that you as their leaning coach maintain an understanding of the curriculum so that you are best-placed to help your children progress.  Should you find that you do not understand the subject matter, do not hesitate contact the subject teacher to get feedback and support.

Maintain routine and schedule their day

Routine is the cornerstone on which you can build independent learners. With routine, your children will know what is expected of them, and importantly, you will know what to expect each day.  The structure that routine will bring will also encourage personal responsibility as your children will need to be made as accountable for their time and for their own learning journey as much as you are. Discipline will be enormously helpful in achieving that.

That is not to say that you must be overbearing: you will need to work this discipline into their lives in a way that supports their best learning habits. But successful routines largely eliminate any power struggle by empowering children to plan their own day. This helps maintain consistency and expectations. There is a sense of safety in routine, and it’s an essential component of success.

Help your learner set up daily and weekly study schedules. Preparing these in advance will help spread out the studying into realistic time increments – and creating a plan ahead of time will make it easier for the learner to stick to the commitment. An established routine will also make it easier for your learner to slip into ‘school mode’ during the pre-planned study time. A daily or weekly study schedule keeps learners on track and accountable — even if this schedule is just 10 minutes a day to prepare for an upcoming math test.

The task at hand

Staying on task will play an important part in progressing through the curriculum – particularly as a large portion of the K12 programme uses technology.  With the distractions that the internet provides, monitoring your kids and making sure they are moving forward is essential. Of course, every child will need encouragement, but you as a parent will know how much they will need. A tip here is to break down their day into chunks, and help them focus on one task at a time, minimising distractions and motivating them to persist. Another key point here is to schedule regular breaks – this will allow a period where they can decompress and prepare for the next lesson. But a break should in itself be productive and we wouldn’t recommend allowing free internet privileges during this time. Use the breaks to encourage physical exercise as it will help keep children engaged.

Approval and praise

Approving completed lessons is important as it means that you are able to ‘sign off’ the tasks your students are undertaking.  It will also allow you to monitor progress before moving to the next subject. Make sure that the quality of the work itself is of a good standard and if you are unsure, ask the K12 support teachers for their opinion before moving on. Equally important, remember to praise your children when they have done a good job in mastering the subjects.

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail

Maintaining your schedule is as important for you as keeping tabs on your children’s progress. Prepare for lessons at least a day in advance and ensure that there are no surprises around the corner. This will also prevent any potential clashes or power struggles later on and keep productivity high for the learner and for you as a learning coach.

Enjoy the process

Learning coaching is a hugely rewarding part of the home-schooling experience. You will find out how to understand your children’s learning style and with time, learn how you can get the best out of them. An investment of time and effort in developing yourself as a learning coach will see you grow in confidence as a teacher and as a parent. Remember to enjoy the process and to make it fun for you and your children and the rewards will be clear. Here are a few key tips to bear in mind along the way.

POINTS TO REMEMBER

  • Ensure regular student attendance
  • Verify and approve completed lessons and assessments
  • Assist with some lessons
  • Monitor student progress, comprehension, and grades
  • Refer child to teacheras needed
  • Communicate frequently with the teacher
  • Minimise distractions and help children stay on task
  • Encourage positive organization and study skills
  • Assist with time and project management

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