The Love and Appreciation Formula

I am currently tutoring two homeschooled girls, aged thirteen and nine, and I tutored their elder sister (now in college) before I left to study for my master's degree.  All three were bridesmaids in my wedding two years ago.

This last session, they sent me home with a thank you card that read, "We love and appreciate you so much!"  The sentiments are heartily returned.  Still, I'd like to think there must be something I'm doing okay to keep them asking me back!

Over the years, there are a few things I've absorbed that have helped our learning experience that I would like to share with anyone who is interested, whether you homeschool or plan to:

Learning goes both ways.  

The girls teach me as much as I teach them.  I try to always be open to their insights and suggestions for learning.  Some days, it's outright humbling when a blank gaze or a candid conversation reveals that I'm not executing a lesson or explaining a reading in the way that best benefits my students.  Not to mention that they have some profound and valuable insights into life that no expensive four-year degree can buy.

Make lessons relevant.   

If the girls can't see what the point of studying something is, they have less motivation to learn it.  I ask myself, Why do I care?  And then I translate that into an explanation that they understand.

Be easy to reward, never to punish.  

I don't know how this would work in a classroom environment, but for homeschooling, I've never seen any need to punish a lack of effort or a failure to do homework.  (Okay, to be fair, I have some very well behaved students.)  When the girls were younger, I used a "magic box" that had inexpensive toys and candies in them.  Each session, after showing me their homework, they got to pick something out of the lidded box.  I let them see what else was in there as motivation to complete their work for next time.  What I found out: they were always eager to please, but if they didn't finish something, there was no fear or sense of shame or failure.  I would hate that!

Enjoy yourself.  

This one is easy to forget and sometimes hard to execute, but if I'm not interested in what I'm saying, then my pupils probably aren't either.  I try to make lessons fun, whether by using humor, visual aids, or projects and crafts.

I'm certainly grateful for the opportunity to teach others' children and hope that my experiences will help me teach my own little boy when the time comes.  Perhaps these reflections will help you too; if not now, maybe some time in the future.

What do you think?  Do you find any discrepancies with the way that I approach teaching homeschooled children?  Do you have any further suggestions for enriching my and my pupils' experience?


  1. I am not sure if I believe in "homework" for younger children. Maybe when they get to highschool, but before then I don't think it is good. Perhaps with homeschooled kids it is different as their schedule may be totally different, but for regular children - bad bad bad. To be in school all day to just go home and do more school work?!?!? When do kids have time to be kids anymore? Don't children need to learn OTHER things other than those taught in school?

    1. I HATE homework for children. The reason I give the girls homework is because I am only with them for about two hours each once a week, and I need to reinforce the lessons while I'm not there. Besides, I don't know if it can count as homework when all the work they do takes place at home anyway! Thanks for commenting! xoxo


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