Maybe because I knew so little when I started my homeschooling my kids, I have never taught in the traditional school teacher way, standing up front and lecturing, being an expert. I’ve always approached learning as an activity that I do with my kids. So that’s the way Layers of Learning curriculum is structured. It is designed for you to learn together with your child. It can be hard to make the leap from teaching to learning together.
You Don’t Have To Prepare
Let’s say you want your child to learn about the Ancient Egyptians. Do you have to first know as much as possible about pyramids, embalming, myths, the Nile, and so on before you start teaching? Do you have to read every book you ask your kids to read? No.
In fact it will probably kill your homeschool if you take that approach.
You’re Not A School Teacher, Don’t Teach Like One
Here’s why. A school teacher teaches one grade or one subject, depending on the level he teaches at. The first year or two of teaching he crams and creates lesson plans. It’s a ton of work. But after that he’s set. He knows the info for the third grade or what have you. Any changes that come up from year to year are minor adjustments, not completely new material for an entire year. Plus he only has one age or level of learner at a time (mostly).
School teachers also are handling 30 little darlings (and their parents) at a time. So I’m not saying what they’re doing is easier, far from it, but it is different from you inside your home teaching your own children.
As a homeschooler your students are growing year by year. Every single year you would be doing an enormous amount of labor to keep ahead of your students. Add to that multiple ages of learners at once (the more kids you have the more this problem compounds). Plus you’re not being paid and the kids are at home all day, making messes and wanting to eat and stuff. Your mom jobs don’t end between 8am and 4pm. You do not have time to teach like a school teacher.
Trying to know everything before you teach it to your students will force you to neglect other things like a tidy home, sports practices, dinner on the table, your spouse, family fun time. Sleep.
You will get stressed.
Begin to resent your family.
There’s a better way
When it comes time to learn about Ancient Egypt, all you have to do is flip through the Layers of Learning Unit 1-2.
- You choose 1 hands-on activity you want to do. Circle it in your book. Look over the supplies. Is there anything you need to pick up? Put it on your grocery list.*
- Is there a printable? Print enough copies for your kids and yourself.*
- Then at your weekly library visit pick up a few books on Ancient Egypt in your child’s level. If you can reserve the books online and have your librarians put them on a hold shelf for you this task can be super quick.
*These two steps I actually do in the summer during our long break so during the school year the only prep is putting books on hold at the library.
See how we plan our year.
That’s all you do to prepare. That is it.
Make the leap from teaching to learning together
Now it’s Monday morning and time to learn about Ancient Egypt. Have a conversation with your kids. Find out what they already know. Tell them one or two things you already know. If you want you can read the intro from Layers of Learning about Ancient Egypt or pick a short video from a sidebar to watch as an intro.
Then choose a book together. Read. When you read, you can read the whole book, a chapter of the book, just the captions on the pictures, or skip from interesting bit to interesting bit.
You are discovering what the Egyptians believed about the ba right along with your kids, at the same moment. If they ask questions, you just say, “I don’t know. But now I’m curious. Let’s look it up.” I promise this is a far more interesting and fulfilling way to homeschool than going all teacherish and lecturing.
Do Projects Together
Now do the project you had planned. Tell the kids what you’ll be doing and send them off to gather supplies. Do the project, giving instructions as needed. You can do the project with your kids, make your own Ancient Egypt jewelry or whatever, if this interests you. You get to learn with them. That means doing everything they do.
Caveat: Karen actually does most of the projects with her kids because she likes to. Michelle never does because Michelle does not like projects. Michelle skims her Pinterest feed or switches the laundry during project time. You ought to also adapt to your personality in this. Regardless you should be present and engaged during most of the learning that happens in your homeschool.
At the end of the project, put the work into a notebook or take pictures. Ta da! If it is a multi-day project find a safe spot to store the work until it can be finished.
Assign extra independent work
Then assign independent work on Ancient Egypt. Give each child her own reading assignments, videos to watch during independent study time, and/or a writing assignment that goes with Ancient Egypt. Give it a due date and make sure there is time every day to work on independent tasks. Next week you can do another group project about Ancient Egypt or move on to another topic.
A Paradigm Shift
I really never even thought about needing to know stuff before my kids learned it, but I’ve found that a lot of homeschoolers feel cramming is necessary, perhaps especially with an unscripted curriculum like Layers of Learning. Just remember these friendly tips before you burn out after a frantic marathon of staying ahead of your kids.
- You can learn together, at the same moment.
- Do projects and make notebooking pages with your kids.
- Look up things you are curious about together. Don’t try to be an expert on anything except your child.
- Spend far less time preparing than you spend learning with your kids.
Hopefully that helps you see your homeschool and your role in it in a new light. Relax, you can do this.
More From Layers of Learning
Learning together is a core philosophy of the Layers of Learning style of homeschooling. Read more about our curriculum.
Here are more articles that explain how to teach different subjects.