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Teaching a homeschooler how to homeschool?


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A friend of mine has asked me if I'd tutor her in how to tutor her kids. Her husband is pushing her to put the younger ones in school, and in doing some practice placement tests, she's realized that they're pretty far behind. She's been a very relaxed, let things flow sort of person, but now wants something more structured-but would rather not put her kids in school either at a substantially lower grade level than their age, or where they'd be significantly behind most of the class in math, grammar, reading (for the younger) etc.

 

I'm tempted. I mean, I'm really tempted. DD is doing almost all her classes outsourced, mostly to the community college. I do have some blocks of time when I'm waiting for her that I could tutor for an hour or two. BUt I'm not sure there would be any follow through at home whatsoever, and trying to remediate a kid who is 2+ years behind on core academics is something that will require focused work, not just when they're with me (because, realistically, I'd be unlikely to be able to tutor more than a couple of hours a couple of times a week) but at home. And that would be a 180 from what mom has been doing.

 

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Wait, she is asking you to tutor her kids or to tutor her in how to teach and maybe provide some accountability?  How many kids and what are the approximate ages?  If it is just helping her get up and running with a more structured day, that might work.  Follow through would be on her.  Would she be paying you?  

Edited by OneStepAtATime
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She's been a very relaxed, let things flow sort of person, but now wants something more structured-but would rather not put her kids in school either at a substantially lower grade level than their age, or where they'd be significantly behind most of the class in math, grammar, reading (for the younger) etc.

 

Is that her personality? As in can she do structured or she would feel closed in. My husband isn't good at planning but is very good at following plans. So structured or boxed curriculum would work for my husband because he would industriously carried it out. I plan for baselines and goal posts. I tend to slack but with the end goals in mind. So for me, my kids are likely to hit all goals by end June but it would look haphazard relax during the course of the academic year.

 

Wait, she is asking you to tutor her kids or to tutor her in how to teach and maybe provide some accountability?  How many kids and what are the approximate ages?  

Wondering the same thing.
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She's quite weak in EF skills from what I've seen. Her kids are currently the right age to go into 6th and 3rd grade, but are significantly behind in some areas (reading for the youngest-for the older math skills and "school/test" skills-that is, she can't identify which statement is an opinion until she is told what an opinion is, cannot make an inference until it is defined for her, but can generally answer the question if it's given.)

I think she wants accountability and some "how to teach X" instruction and hand holding. I'm just not sure she'd be willing to accept it and follow through with it. Ideally, I'd like to do something like a Suzuki music lesson, where I teach the child and the parent together, and then the parent has the responsibility of supervising practice and reteaching all week, so she gets the best result from the couple of times a week I can give her.

 

 

 

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Truthfully, I'm not sure that she really knows. Which is part of the problem. I suspect what she really wants is for someone else to take responsibility for educating them, but doesn't want to give up the benefits of homeschooling. And that's something I can't/won't do.

 

She's asked me to name a price, policies, etc.

Edited by dmmetler
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Truthfully, I'm not sure that she really knows. Which is part of the problem. I suspect what she really wants is for someone else to take responsibility for educating them, but doesn't want to give up the benefits of homeschooling. And that's something I can't/won't do.

 

She's asked me to name a price, policies, etc.

 

Oh no, you should not take the responsibility for another child's education when the parent is not taking responsibility.

That's a tough one. Quite likely a potential friendship killer. 

 

I would sit down with her and give her a few coaching sessions, teach the kid a few sample lessons in mom's presence, and assist with choice of materials. I would not get more than ankle deep into another family's homeschooiing quagmire.

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Truthfully, I'm not sure that she really knows. Which is part of the problem. I suspect what she really wants is for someone else to take responsibility for educating them, but doesn't want to give up the benefits of homeschooling. And that's something I can't/won't do.

 

She's asked me to name a price, policies, etc.

 

If the kids have the significant disabilities it sounds like she has, they would be a challenge to take on by yourself. They might need or benefit from special intervention materials you wouldn't have access to that the school system would have quite readily. I run into that now with my ds, where I'm looking at tier 2/3 intervention materials and gagging at the price. 

 

It's exceptionally unlikely the woman would be able to intervene for the kids herself. I'd just bow out, unless you really are looking for a project of taking over educating other people's kids, sigh. Besides, she doesn't know what would happen with grade placement till they actually enrolled and went through the IEP process and some RTI. The schools around here don't hold back just because kids are behind. They might place them in pretty close to grade level and do intervention.

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She's quite weak in EF skills from what I've seen.

...

I think she wants accountability and some "how to teach X" instruction and hand holding. I'm just not sure she'd be willing to accept it and follow through with it.

 

In that case even using a boxed curriculum like K12 or bookshark might not work since she could have problem following through. My DS11 who has weaker EF skills is good with any curriculum with a fixed syllabus and schedule as long as we remind him once a day.

 

I suspect what she really wants is for someone else to take responsibility for educating them, but doesn't want to give up the benefits of homeschooling.

She sounds like she wants the credentialed teacher option of homeschooling. Kind of like the governess style in the old days.

 

Is there an independent study program (public) where you are? Where you get to meet the teacher (education specialist) every 20 days and the teacher would look at work samples as well as quiz the kids on work done in those 20 days. She would still need to educate her children but the accountability is there and she has the teacher to supply the external pressure on her children so she won't need to be the bad guy.

 

Honestly she would need to assess her budget for outsourcing and then decide if she wants to hire a tutor to do all the core subjects or she wants to pick a tutor for each subject. If her children are also weaker in EF skills, especially the upcoming 6th grader, then it would be a double headache. It just sounds like she wants someone to do the planning, teaching and the nagging with the aim of keeping her kids at home. As a homeschooler not by choice, I would say that parents have to educate or facilitate to make sure their kids get a decent education. Whether she is unable to or unwilling to facilitate I don't know. I am a slacker by choice (and a slavedriver workaholic when I want to be) but I know friends who "slack" because they are overwhelmed and just white flag.

 

Both my kids have to be explicitly taught inferences in 2nd3rd grade before they caught on. So I won't suspect LD right away.

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I would have very very strict boundaries if you decide to help. I might require a trial period which involved work from mom.

 

At least 3-4 weeks trial so that some new habits can start to be built. I would focus on helping mom set up systems in her own homeschool, and working with her to establish what is expected from a lesson/day/week and how to get it. The trial period would involve more work from mom than from me - she has to own it.

 

At the end of the trial she should have some systems working in her home to make good progress on her own. If I chose to continue, it would be in a mentor to mom role - not a tutor for child role.

 

And I would take payment upfront for the whole trial period, with strict hours understood (per day or week, between x & y hrs. Face to face and phone/email)

 

I would be tempted to help too, but you don't want to get drawn in to homeschooling for her!

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I think I would encourage her to send her kids to school. I say this only slightly tongue-in-cheek!

 

Honestly, I like Regentrude's advice above. I wouldn't accept money for my services as I would want to walk away if my wisdom were falling on deaf ears.

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I have to say is would be a no for me. It's a shame, and I'd be tempted just because there are soooo many resources available, so many program options that teach mom how to tutor...but...

 

I think the responsible thing is to tell her that falling *this far behind* means the children need to go to school now. There are special ed and remedial helps there, and the children don't have more time for mom to learn how to teach.

 

I mean, say it gently, but yeah.

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If you decide to do it, my suggestion would be to help her make a plan of what to use. You could give choices but mostly do it yourself. I'd choose things that are open and go - like Math Mammoth, for example. Things that are simply laid out and easy to implement. Design a program for them. And then schedule it or make a set routine for them. And then maybe have a once a week skills check in where you work with the kid on specific things and then the mom joins the both of you for the last part and you go over with her what's working and what isn't. Charge for the tutoring whatever the going rate is and put a set charge on doing the planning at the start.

 

Just my own take.

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I think it would be an interesting challenge, but only if she's either such a good friend you would do anything for her OR such a casual friend it won't matter if she hates you after a few weeks.

I like the idea of ageing to a trial period where you help her set goals and a rough schedule. I'd encourage her to set a deadline that "if we haven't schooled consistently for x days by x date, and if my kids aren't meeting x goals by x date, it will be time to try public school for at least a year."

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I am concerned about her husband.

 

It is not exactly your business, but I would not want to get into something where the husband has legitimate concerns and maybe you are used as an excuse to him.

 

I think if the husband thinks it is a good idea too, then that is good. But if he is really not at peace with where things stand on the children's education and doesn't want to give it another year, I think it would be something better not to be in the middle of.

 

Your students will know if the situation doesn't have their dad's support.

 

And if it does, it will make everything smoother I think.

 

Edit: I think you could still work with her on homework help or tutoring. You could still help her find curriculum.

Edited by Lecka
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I'm wondering if maybe she'd accept me agreeing to hold her hand if she enrolled the kids in the state virtual charter? That would be PS, but she'd still have some flexibility to do the same activities her kids have been doing. And through the virtual school, if there are LD issues, it would be easier to start a paper trail and get services/supports. It might be a good compromise. And that might be something that would get Dad's backing, too.

 

Edited by dmmetler
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 Ideally, I'd like to do something like a Suzuki music lesson, where I teach the child and the parent together, and then the parent has the responsibility of supervising practice and reteaching all week, so she gets the best result from the couple of times a week I can give her.

 

 

 

I would sit down with her and give her a few coaching sessions, teach the kid a few sample lessons in mom's presence, and assist with choice of materials. I would not get more than ankle deep into another family's homeschooling quagmire.

I think after a few weeks of this, you would be able to see if it was going to work or not.

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If you decide to do it, my suggestion would be to help her make a plan of what to use. You could give choices but mostly do it yourself. I'd choose things that are open and go - like Math Mammoth, for example. Things that are simply laid out and easy to implement. Design a program for them. And then schedule it or make a set routine for them. And then maybe have a once a week skills check in where you work with the kid on specific things and then the mom joins the both of you for the last part and you go over with her what's working and what isn't. Charge for the tutoring whatever the going rate is and put a set charge on doing the planning at the start.

 

Just my own take.

 

This. 

 

I would make up a plan and have a meeting with both parents to discuss implementation.  They are the homeschooling parents and they need to own the responsibility of following your guidelines and making sure that homeschooling happens.  If they aren't disciplined enough to implement your plan, they are not cut out for homeschooling and should enroll their kids in B&M school.

 

I would charge a flat fee that would be paid upfront for designing the yearly plan and providing the implementation advice.  I would charge an hourly fee for any tutoring that is requested throughout the year. 

 

I would not do this work for free.  You are providing a valuable service and should be compensated for your time.

 

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State charters, the cyber schools in our state, come with a teacher they can consult with by phone. If they enroll in that, they should be talking with that person.

 

As far as supports and services through the cyber, that ain't gonna be a fun process. It usually takes a whole school year to get an IEP in place. Maybe the mom will get something done sooner, but it will be a pain. That shouldn't be your problem to hold her hand through. You can look up the state law and see. There will be nuances like which school district will do the evals, depending on where they're enrolled. 

 

The IEP process is a huge time drain and stressor. I wouldn't sign up to help someone like that unless they were blood relatives or you really, really, really cared.

Edited by OhElizabeth
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If you decide to do it, my suggestion would be to help her make a plan of what to use. You could give choices but mostly do it yourself. I'd choose things that are open and go - like Math Mammoth, for example. Things that are simply laid out and easy to implement. Design a program for them. And then schedule it or make a set routine for them. And then maybe have a once a week skills check in where you work with the kid on specific things and then the mom joins the both of you for the last part and you go over with her what's working and what isn't. Charge for the tutoring whatever the going rate is and put a set charge on doing the planning at the start.

 

Just my own take.

 

I like this suggestion, because it sounds to me like it would provide another way (if she is opposed to the virtual school) to emphasize that your role is to help recommend curriculum and lay out a plan for implementation...not to be the one to make sure her kids actually buckle down and do the work. I am just thinking of some of my friends, who are conflicted about issues of authority in general in their home/school, which is a real philosophical issue that I appreciate and respect, but also would have a hard time negotiating if I were tasked with bringing their kids up to grade level. I think most of us are more apt to appreciate suggestions about curriculum changes, better use of our time, and so forth, but probably a bit prickly if it becomes apparent that it's actually our parenting style that is under scrutiny...what does one say if the kids come to you week after week not having put much effort into their assigned schedule, and their mom puts the blame on them or on you?

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Don't underestimate the fact that you're dealing with more than just academic planning and accountability.  I wouldn't even consider it because her problems are chronic, and another homeschooler can't solve them for her.

-She missed the fact that her kids are significantly behind (passive) instead of keeping an eye out and dealig with it (active.)

-She wants hand holding (passive)  not resource recommendations (active.)

-She wants you to do teach her how to tutor (passive) and you suspect she wants someone to take responsibility for their education (passive) rather than seeking out teaching and accountability resources on her own and applying them (passive.)

-She seems to have poor EF skills

-Her husband wants the younger kids is school (Why not the older one(s) too?)

 

These are fundamental problems that a few teaching sessions and a couple of hours a week from you cannot overcome.  When people say homeschooling isn't for everyone, this is an example of what they mean. If someone wants the benefits of homeschooling, then they have to take on all the responsibilities that go along with them.  It's a packaged deal.  You're either all in or all out. Homeschoolers have to take responsibility, follow through, keep an eye out for problems, and deal effectively with those problems.  She's a news report waiting to happen.
 

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I would tutor her *or* her kids, not both. I'd probably pick her; kids will catch up with sustained work if there's not another underlying issue.

 

I'd work with her on laying out a school calendar and daily schedule, and sticking to them (e.g., with stickers on a wall calendar to show that x amount of school was completed).

Then on choosing materials and pacing, and again, keeping track of where you've gotten compared to the plan.

Then on avoiding derailments and recovering from them. Her kids may be in the habit of avoiding schoolwork (when the books come out, Johnny is hungry and Jenny needs a band-aid for her toe and Joey forgot to make his bed...). And everybody gets sick/has dentist appointments/needs to go grocery shopping/whatever, and still school needs to get done.

Then on assessing progress. If the state doesn't require testing, maybe she and her DH will agree to do it annually anyway, to make sure there's progress. If Johnny was in the 60th percentile in reading two years ago and the 40th last year and the 20th this year, it's easy to spot the pattern and go, "Hey, this is going to need to be an intensive year for reading for him, because he's falling behind."

 

I have to work pretty hard at EF stuff, and that's one reason I make my school spreadsheet open to the public. Anybody--from DH to my BFF to my fellow bees in the Hive--can open it and see whether I've been doing what I said I'd be doing. If the box is gray, we did it. If you charge her for help (which I would), it may be that the #1 thing you can do is call her at 2 PM every day and ask what she has accomplished.

Edited by whitehawk
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