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Monday, May 30, 2016

Learning: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

By Sanna Rogers

The Leveritt family chose to homeschool their girls because they found they thrived using different learning styles. Photos by Patti Hartog

Homework – the necessary evil. It can leave you angry and frustrated to the point of tears. And it’s hard on the kids, too. So, how to tame the homework beast? The key is finding creative solutions that work for your family’s circumstances.

For Pam Leveritt, a homeschooling mom from LaGrange, homework isn’t the typical after-school routine for her two daughters, Megan, 16, a sophomore, and Avery, 10, a fifth grader. It’s integrated into each day whether they are in their dedicated classroom – a well-equipped area in their basement – studying outside, or driving around town. Pam takes every opportunity to ask questions that stir critical thinking and reinforce learning. In the car, they play CDs that help them memorize facts and dates, many of which are incorporated into song. “I wake up singing these songs,” she says. “What are the seven types of biomes?” She begins singing, “grasslands, deserts, scrublands, tundra….”

Unlike parents of public school kids, she doesn’t check planners for homework or receive texts from Infinite Campus Portal, a tool many parents use to keep up with their child’s assignments and grades. She designs their school day, grades their work, and assesses their progress.

Pam Leveritt prepares her 'brain power' oil mixture to diffuse inside the house while the girls
are working on their studies.

She typically keeps to an 8am to 4pm schedule four days a week, including separate weekly seminars for each girl, where new material is presented and assignments given. Fridays are for field trips and science experiments. Their homework is mastering the material through timelines, games, writing, and of course, music. Pam says her girls have flourished in this environment. “This is our third year,” she says. “The first year we were like, ‘Hold onto your hats!’ Let’s just figure this out.” Now they have structure. “Their level of stress goes way down if you’re organized.”

Avery sometimes sits at the table to do her work.

Pam began homeschooling Megan in seventh grade after she suffered bullying in public school; then Avery joined them the next year. Eventually, Megan was diagnosed with Sensory Auditory Processing Disorder. Pam was then able to customize her homework allowing her more creativity and autonomy in writing and group debates.

Pam customizes her daughter Megan's assignments to better fit her learning style and her creativity.

After Megan fell behind in math, Pam and her husband also hired an outside professional tutor who meets with her twice a week and grades all math assignments. “If your child can’t finish her homework and she’s crying in the corner — which is what she was doing, and I was, too — you do what’s best for your daughter,” she says. “It makes me emotional, actually, because now I don’t feel like I’m drowning.” Pam allows the girls some freedom in their study environment. They may be together at the table with quiet music playing, lying on their stomachs, or outside on the porch. Pam also uses a diffuser of essential oils throughout the house. “They have no idea,” she says. “It’s a ‘brain power’ oil mixture,” she says. “I think it just gives them some clarity.”

Avery likes to do her reading and work in a variety of different spaces in the house and outdoors.

For Avery, choice is important. “She cannot just sit in a chair,” says Pam. “She sits on an exercise ball. She gets to jump rope. That’s the freedom I have.” Finding the right homework strategies for her girls has been challenging but also invaluable. “They’re different learners. You don’t quit. You keep looking for creative ways to teach.”

Fortunately, Pam knows she’s not alone. She reaches out on a private Facebook page to other homeschooling parents for teaching ideas and advice. “I can’t be afraid to say to one of the other moms, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing. I need help.’” That sense of community keeps her calm and motivated.

What techniques do you try when helping your kids with a tough homework assignment? How do you improve their study skills? 

1 comment:

  1. We avoid homework if at all possible. Homework is stressful, anxiety-producing, and not necessary to succeed.


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