HEY!! How do you…?
Homeschool parents have started receiving calls from relatives, friends, even next-door neighbors with questions about “How do I teach my child (insert topic here)?” You know what works for you and your child, but how do you help them navigate the subtleties of Homeschooling? There is no one answer and the varieties of teaching styles are immense.  Here are a few quick tips to help you help them get started.

1) Age group.
Different age groups have different attention spans. How long is my child’s attention span? The biggest variable here is environment (comfort, distractions such as inside or outside noises, electronic devices, siblings, pets, etc.) but a good rule-of-thumb is that a child’s attention span will be 3-4 minutes per year of life. A three-year-old will probably stay interested in a task for 9-12 minutes. A seven-year-old for 21-28 minutes. You get the picture even if math is not your favorite subject to teach. This can vary from day-to-day. Watching how your child is feeling on any given day can help you adjust the lesson time and avoid an unpleasant day.

2) Learning Style.
What is the best way for your child to learn? Figuring out which style, or combination of styles, your child tends to use will help make the process easier. There are three generally accepted learning styles:
•    Visual – learns by seeing and visualizing.
•    Auditory – learns by hearing and repeating.
•    Tactile or Kinesthetic – learns by touching or doing.
There is also a fourth style which has recently been gaining acceptance but has not been fully defined. Reading and/or writing. Reading could fall under Visual as in silently reading the book. Or, could become Auditory if the child reads aloud. Writing most generally falls under the Kinesthetic style.
Try some different styles or combinations to see which your child gravitates towards.

3) Content/Interest.

The more interested a child is in an object or subject, the more likely they are to stay on task for the duration of the lesson. Integrating props, videos, and games can assist in keeping them on task. Show an interest in what you are teaching. If you are not interested in the subject, why should they be?
My students are required to learn many, often very challenging, Kyuki-Do forms. I keep them interested in these forms by showing interest and enthusiasm when teaching them.

4) Interaction.
The younger the child the more interaction is required. Whether it is helping them to manipulate a toy, assemble a puzzle, or guiding them through a math problem (I keep mentioning math. Sorry!), your active engagement will make a big impact in how your child absorbs the information. Here’s another rule-of-thumb for you. Children up to three and a half years of age require 100% interaction during learning sessions. Three and a half up to six years old require 90-100% interaction during learning sessions. Seven to eleven years old required about 65-90% interaction during learning sessions and varies based on interest in subject. Twelve to eighteen will require 25-65% interaction depending on the subject. Mostly, just to keep them on task and off their electronic devices.

5) Sleep.

Make sure that both you and your child get enough sleep. Sleep times vary by person and children need a lot more time under the covers than most adults. Choose more over less when available.

6) Exercise.

Lack of exercise leads to lethargy. Too much time at a desk or in front of a computer and children will get sluggish. Concentration, focus, and retention start to diminish at around 60-75% of a child’s general attention span after nine years of age. Learning sessions may vary in time and content, but a five to ten-minute break for some light exercise will get the blood flowing and help re-energize your child’s attention span. Consider getting your child involved in a physical activity such as sports teams, Martial Arts Academies, or Dance and Gymnastic Studios. Regular exercise improves focus, attention, retention, sleep and overall general health. Many of these programs will also fulfill the physical education requirement for your child. This is just a short list of ideas that you can pass on to your “new homeschooler parent” friends. And don’t forget to steer them towards all of the great online resources that you use. I hope this helps make that first conversation easier.

Merrill Sinclair, Jr is originally from Elgin, Illinois and moved to Acworth, Georgia in December 2006. He holds a 5th Degree “Master” rank in Kyuki-do from the American Kyuki-Do Federation. Together with his wife, Sheryl, they own and operate Sinclair’s Kyuki-Do Martial Arts in Dallas, Georgia since 2011. Merrill is also Certified by the American Council on Exercise as a Personal Fitness Trainer, is a Certified Lifestyle & Weight Management Counselor, and a Certified Sports Nutrition Coach.