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Teaching Tips

We've collected an assortment of teaching tips from our authors and homeschool community friends to help you in your educational journey. We hope you can find some encouragement and wisdom here!

On Practice:
"Perfectionists often won't attempt a task they aren't confident they can do. This means that if you are introducing something new, you must present it in a way that does not assess whether or not your student has the skill. It must be clear to the student that what you are doing is practicing. For a perfectionist, this means that no permanent record is made of whether or not they failed. Use non-permanent surfaces for practice (dry erase board, scrap paper, colored paper, butcher paper, chalkboard), anything that does not resemble a record you will keep, like a page of notebook paper." —Debbie Strayer, co-author of the Trail Guide to Learning Series

On Encouragement:
"Here’s a tip for building the skill of encouragement between siblings, you can ask them to list a couple things that are special about each other. When we were little, my mom used to ask my brother to say something that he thought was special about me, and I would do the same for him. For example, he would say “Ashley is sweet and creative” and I would say “Nathan is brave and a good baseball player.” We could have been driving in the car or starting a new day of school, and this would always remind us to be grateful for each other. It is a simple thing, but meaningful." —Ashley Wiggers, author of the Profiles From History series

"Focus on mercy, minister mercy in every way that you can. Do the little things that make life special—cookie-cutter sandwiches, hot chocolate on a cold day, school on a blanket under a tree in your yard, anything that says to your children the time I spend with you is special. 'You are special to me.' 
It's amazing the power of that message, rather than 'you are my job.' Moms have such a gift for ministering appreciation . . . sometimes we trade that in to act like a teacher. My most successful times in the classroom was when I thought like a mom, not a teacher." —Debbie Strayer, co-author of the Trail Guide to Learning Series

On Concentration:
"Keeping fingers busy helps some children's minds to think more freely. Some children have great difficulty focusing attention on the subject at hand. They may concentrate on everything at once, or on nothing at all. Often keeping their hands or mouths busy with some mindless activity increases their ability to take in information, especially when listening is necessary. Chewing gum or sucking on candy may actually help them concentrate. Other mindless activities, such as manipulating and twisting something, stacking blocks, drawing or coloring may free the mind to listen." —< a href="http://www.joyceherzog.info/Joyce_Herzog/Welcome.html">Joyce Herzog, from the book Timeless Teaching Tips

On Organizing/Planning:
"When my kids didn't want to "do" school—which was more often than I care to admit—I spent way too much time and energy trying to hit on some sort of "formula" that'd get everyone excited and ready to go. Unfortunately, with 4 very different personalities and learning styles—nothing seemed to work for everybody! That is, until FINALLY I found the simplest, easiest strategy—that made their eyes literally sparkle (small exaggeration, but true).

I wrote a list for each one (not many details, just subject and pages or activities) that they could check off as they went through the day, with the promise that when they did everything on the list and I looked it over, they were done and could do _______ (fill in the blank). 

It was amazing. There was a beginning to the day, and a definite end. They knew what would be expected, and that the ending-time rested in their own little (or large) hands. Magical." —Linda Fowler, co-author of the Trail Guide to Learning Series

"Some progress can best be recorded through taking photos. Photograph large projects, presentations, and field trips. Then have the children enter the photo in an album and add captions. These will be great for record keeping, reminiscing and sharing with interested friends and relatives." —< a href="http://www.joyceherzog.info/Joyce_Herzog/Welcome.html">Joyce Herzog, from the book Timeless Teaching Tips

On Team Building:
"Viewing our homeschool as a team enabled my brother and I to feel like we were valued members of our family. We delighted in helping to prepare for an outing, or getting the house in order for a special occasion. We all had specific jobs to do based on the gifts we possessed. For instance, Nathan (my brother) was great at keeping track of the time so he was in charge of making sure we left on time for an appointment. These small tasks were not an annoyance to us, but seen as the job of an important team member." —Ashley Wiggers, author of the Profiles From History series

"Kindness is so important . . . we read Scripture morning after morning about the power of our words, we prayed together and for each other to be kind and we basically stopped everything if someone was unkind with their words. We would go through the whole nine yards of correcting, apologizing, forgiving, etc. I made that my chief priority in prayer and in my modeling kind words. It was just one of those things I felt we had to dwell in until I saw softer hearts. To me, this is the most important work we have as homeschoolers. The bigger deal you make about kind words (in a kind way) the more your children will get the idea. Mom is not budging. We will need to consider our words more carefully. I have even pulled the car off the road to go through this process. I wanted them to know I was SERIOUS!!" —Debbie Strayer, co-author of the Trail Guide to Learning Series

On Reading:
"I remember when I was first starting to read. I told my mom that I was ready, so she sat down with me and we worked through a very simple book together. Once I had learned how to decode all the words in the book, I declared that I could now read and was very proud of myself. I read that same book to my grandparents, friends of the family, and anyone who would listen. For many months, this was all I felt I needed. My mom, being very supportive, did not push me to take on more than what I was ready for. So sometimes, their first experience of showing interest in reading does not mean they’re ready for formal instruction." —Ashley Wiggers, author of the Profiles From History series

On Spicing Things Up:
"Sometimes Motivation can be a hard thing to come by. Especially during the months after Christmas break. Spicing things up will add a little bit of motivation for your students during those more difficult months. Simple things like going to the park to read aloud together, or even in your backyard, can create an atmosphere of fun. You can also look for opportunities to do some hands-on activities and take field trips. Any and all of these options can simply brighten up your homeschooling outlook. Remember, if you’re not enjoying a book or a lesson, or you need a quick break, chances are your students feel the same!" —Ashley Wiggers, author of the Profiles From History series