Tips for Home Educators
Tip 7: Try creating a Learning Group with other homeschool kids. Lots of times kids can explain things to each other better than an adult can explain it to them.
Cooperative Learning is fundamental to many traditional classrooms. Research has overwhelmingly demonstrated its effectiveness. However, the very nature of homeschooling makes Cooperative Education a challenge to implement: unless you have triplets, your student has no one to form a group with at home.
First, let's quickly describe Cooperative Learning: students work in groups (typically 2 - 4 members) to complete group tasks. Group members should not be working competitively. The goal is to establish "positive interdependence". Students learning cooperatively capitalize on one another's resources and skills (asking one another for information, evaluating one another's ideas, monitoring one another's work, etc). The educator's role is to determine the group's task, then facilitate group interaction (including the group's development of social skills). Each group member must have a role to play towards completion of the group's task (each member has assigned responsibilities, such as scribe, or researcher, or artist). And the task is not completed successfully unless each member can, on completion, explain the results (the educator can pick a member at random and ask them to explain the groups work). The group's success is not based upon the correct answer. The group's success is based upon the randomly chosen member's ability to explain the group's results. Usually verbal rewards for successful completion of a task are sufficiently motivating.
So, how can homeschoolers utilize this learning strategy? Well, of course you could find students that live near you and get together once a week. But we live in a digital age, and there is a digital solution. Web Conferencing allows groups to get together over the internet, and see each other, hear each other, see each other's computer screens. Some charge for use of the platform ( www.GoToMeeting.com ; www.WebEx.com ; www.livemeetingplace.com ). Others are free, or inexpensive, but typically less robust ( www.yugma.com ; www.zoho.com ; www.vyew.com ).
My website offers Group Lessons, and we use Cooperative Learning strategies ( www.MasterMath.info ). You can see a recorded Group Lesson by clicking on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iVmP7saNu8 .
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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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