Schooling at home offers some exciting benefits to students such as less time spent commuting or between classes, a more flexible schedule, the ability to individualize instruction, and the opportunity to spend more time with family.
As a principal of a virtual school, I’ve noticed there are many things for families to consider when deciding whether to make the switch from a brick-and-mortar school to schooling in the home through either homeschool – where the parent plans and implements instruction – or a virtual public school – where state-certified teachers deliver a curriculum that correlates to state standards.
For families that choose schooling in the home, there are several things parents can do to create an environment that’s conducive to learning. Dedicate an area in the house as a learning space for students to do their school work. This will bring focus and purpose to the daily activities. The location should be a distraction–free zone. Avoid the TV, interruptions from siblings, and spaces that encourage sleep, like bedrooms. Some students try and work with the TV blaring in the background. The TV will dominate a student’s attention; it is what advertisers do for a living.
Students and adults who previously had workspaces in their bedroom tell me that they felt like they were always working. However, when they moved their learning space out of the bedroom, they were able to focus better and ultimately complete their work in a timelier manner.
Siblings, like the TV, will vie for each other’s attention. Teach siblings to respect and value study time. Establish a schedule and routine with built-in breaks for family play time, naps and physical activity. Making regular breaks part of a student’s daily school routine helps them stay focused during study time and keeps the blood flowing.
My wife Lori works from home, as does 21 percent of the U.S. workforce. She follows a daily routine of showering and dressing as if she was leaving for work to help her transition into the work day. She also has a work space separate from the bedroom. It’s free of TV noise and other distractions, and the family respects her time when she is working at her desk.
Whether students do all their schoolwork in the home or just their homework, teaching them to dedicate blocks of time to complete their work will prepare them for an independent future. Effective time management skills will help students transition into higher grade levels where learning and studying is done more independently, and self-accountability is crucial. Students who master these skills will be well-prepared for higher education, the workforce, and most importantly – life.