Siblings as Homeschool Teachers
Letting older children help you teach in your homeschool can be a special way to forge bonds between the children, prepare them to homeschool their own children or to choose a career as a teacher. In addition, it helps them to better learn their school work, since everyone knows it is the teacher who learns the most.
On your official records, list this time as career exploration or as an elective called Cross-Age Tutoring. Many public schools have cross-age tutors, so this is an acceptable course selection. If your child will regularly teach a specific subject, you could even list it as that subject, particularly if the student will be teaching the same subject he is studying. For example, a teen who is studying astronomy may choose to work out a simplified version of his own curriculum to present to a younger sibling. Then you can simply list this work as part of his own astronomy class.
Begin by meeting with your child to find out what he would like to teach. Let him select one subject and have ownership over the class. This means he should choose the material and the teaching methods. You should sign off on the lesson plans, but do not interfere unless the class doesn't meet the legal requirements, is completely inappropriate or unless your child asks for help. Ask him to think about the material and decide what he wants to teach. Also let him make his own mistakes, just as you do when you teach.
Remind him that the material must be adapted to the age of the child. For example, your teen may be doing an in-depth study of the Battle of Gettysburg. It is likely that the younger sibling will not be able to understand the same books he is reading. He will need to go to the library to select materials to use. While you could help with this, it might be better to suggest he utilize the help of the librarian. This keeps you from becoming overly involved in the preparation. There is a temptation to take over.
He should make an outline of the points he wants to teach and then choose reading material and activities to assist in doing so. Everything he chooses must further the child's knowledge and not simply be added for fun. He must stay on topic at all times. Suggest he write a statement of purpose for each day or week. "Toby will understand why we had a Civil War." As he chooses material, he can refer back to the purpose to be sure he has not strayed.
Next he should organize the material in a way that makes sense. Encourage him to think about pacing. He should make sure his lesson has variety and moves at the right pace. A lesson that is too exciting and too filled with activity is over stimulating and the lessons overwhelm the information. A lesson that is nothing but lecture will bore the child. The lesson needs to have some fun activities in it, such as songs, videos, experiments, or homemade board games.
Discuss discipline issues. How will your older child establish discipline? What will happen if the younger child won't cooperate? What discipline measures can he use, and when should he turn to you? Make sure the two of you work out guidelines in advance, so the experience doesn't sour. Be sure to let the younger child know that he must treat his teacher with respect, even when he is a sibling.
Just for fun, occasionally let the younger child prepare a lesson for the older child. Tell your older child that this is his chance to set a good example for the younger child by participating with respect and enthusiasm. Remind him to praise the efforts of the younger child.
Allowing siblings to teach each other can provide a rewarding experience for all your children, and also sets the stage for those emergency days when you cannot teach and need a substitute for the younger children.