Educate. Instruct. Tell. Help with the hard parts. Explain. Point to other resources. Show how. As there is learning by doing, there is teaching by doing.
Counsel. Be a friend. Try to see things from your child's perspective. Listen. Empathize. Reflect their concerns back to them. Advise.
Confront. Sometimes you simply have to impose discipline or some important task will not get done. Because I said so.
Sponsor. Sponsoring includes paying for dance lessons, driving to activities, buying books and computers, taking children to educational vacation spots like D.C., etc.
Model. One of your most important actions is to be what you want your children to be. They learn subconsciously and constantly from your actions. Be a good role model.
Goal set. Very important. Without goals, you won't get there and wouldn't know if you did. Children cannot learn what they are not taught. Children will learn most if the apple is always a little beyond their reach. False self-esteem made by trivial and easily reached goals is not worthwhile. Real self-esteem is acquired by setting high goals and accomplishing them.
Test. The adjunct of goal setting. How do you know when the goal has been reached?
Motivate. Perhaps half the job. We all use behavior modification - rewards and punishments - the only question is whether we will use them efficiently. You are the source of virtually all your child's rewards, from food, to TV, to free time. Use verbal rewards - here is a file: 101 Ways to Praise a Child -- but remember that they are weak compared to physical rewards.
Decision make. You decide what will be done and when. Make it a routine, at a definite time and place. Set aside part of a room for homeschool and have a definite time.
English is rule-based and, although there are many exceptions, it is best to learn the rules, that is: phonics. Instead of teaching children the names of letters, teach them the sounds first. The sounds are what they need to learn to read. Use flashcards. An old book, but still an introduction to the subject with lessons in the back, is Rudolph Flesch's 1955 book Why Johnny Can't Read by Harper and Row. Hooked on Phonics 1993 by Gateway Educational Products, PO Box 6868, Orange CA, 92613, ph 714-633-2223 is overpriced at about $119 but seems like a solid phonics program.
On the subject of reading, don't do what schools do and use contentless filler. Classic children's stories are much more interesting and provide children with mental furniture for further development. E.D. Hircsh has made an excellent series of books to teach your kids what they need to know: What Your 1,2,3,4,5,6th Grader Needs to Know by Delta or Bantam, Doubleday, and Dell publishers. Also his Cultural Literacy What Every American Needs to Know 1988 by Vintage Books and A First Dictionary of Cultural Literacy 1991 by Houghton Mifflin Company are excellent. See his Core Knowledge Home Page
Make a book list for your children and make sure they read it. THE GREAT BOOKS and THE HARVARD CLASSICS are a good starting point for high school children.
The most efficient method of learning is memorization. You either know something or you don't and the fastest, most efficient and best way to get knowledge is memorization. This doesn't mean that one can not understand what one is memorizing. Of course, mnemonics tricks like ROY G. BIV should be used as aids. But most ultimate facts must be memorized. In chess, the world's pre-eminent memory game, memorizers beat people who only know "ideas" and people who understand the ideas and memorize are masters. Every library has books on mnemonics, which rely on associations, to make the task easier for your children.
One of the greates criticisms of American education (see The Education Reform Homepage below) made after the TIMSS International Math Study was that American schools had a fragmented approach to learning which stressed definitions and computations but not understanding. Partly because of that, they found that none of the American math classes had quality to them. Understanding and a unified approach to math should be kept in mind when preparing lessons.
Probably the most interesting book about teaching arithmetic is Calculator's Cunning by Karl Menninger, Basic Books, NY 1964, which is the translated 10th edition of a very important book in Germany. This book teaches the tricks of the trade which make arithmetic challenging and fun. This book teaches more than practical techniques, it explains the why of arithmetic, e.g. why do you cast out nines?
Speaking of why, why do we teach addition and subtraction tables when they are inverse operations? The same with multiplication and division. Cut the work in half. Teach 3 + 2 = 5 so the student knows not just 3 + 2 = ? but also 3 + ? = 5 and ? + 2 = 5. One fact covers all three situations and cuts out the need to learn the subtraction table.
AMY'S 1ST PRIMER has the alphabet, counting, pattern matching, mazes, and beginning phonics. Preschool. DOS
Mom's Math version four (MM40_)has games and flashcards for kindergardeners. DOS.
Billsdr1.zip or Bill's Drill is a set of Basic programs to drill with flashcards on addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, as well as speed work. It is valuable for grades 3 and up to adult. It works with GWBASIC.EXE for example.
GEOUSA is the best program for teaching geography of the US. WINDOWS. All ages.
WINCHEM is a small, nice periodic table. WINDOWS
Newwords is a program that allows you type up a word list and use it for drill. WINDOWS. You can do the same with WINFLASH.
Anything by Professor Weissman is excellent: ALGEBRAX - sometimes in a file called PREALG - covers topics in algebra; PRFST212 is statistics; PRECALCX is precalculus. Available at the math archives at the U of Tenessee, see below. DOS
The "Are You Ready for Calculus?" series from the Universtiy of Arizona has quizes and help files to evaluate whether you are ready for the first, second, or third semester of calculus. The files are usually named RURC1, RURC2, RURC3 but I have seen them called CALC1 or ALGETUT, CALC2, and CALC3 and they are combined in a file called AZMATH1 which includes ODE or a quiz on Ordinary Differential Equations. DOS
Vocabulary Overdrive v1.1 Probably the most advanced vocabulary program in existence. By Zoran Sevarlic, it is dramatically better than SAT drill programs. DOS.
The best SAT preparation software is Verbal Vanquish in the file SAT-vv23.zip which actually teaches test taking strategies. DOS
A very good source for educational software is Sylvan Associates which gives reviews of the products before you download.
The magazine Practical Homeschooling can be reached at PO Box 1250 Fenton, MO 63026 tel 800-346-6322.
Homeshooling supplies can be bought from the Home School Discount Warehouse, Ph 800-775-5422.
Or American Home-School Publishing
American Home School Publishing maintains a catalog of Home Schooling materials online with full color digitized photos and detailed descriptions for most of the over 1200 available resources.
With unsafe and unproductive schools, save your child - homeschool!