There’s a big difference between doing public school at home and homeschooling. If you’re kissing public or private school good-bye this fall for a first time adventure with homeschooling, this post is for you. Here are five very important things you should be doing to pave the way to success.
Guess who’s still learning and seeking out advice and support, even after homeschooling for twelve years? That would be me! So join up with other homeschooling families as soon as you can in the form of Facebook groups, local co-ops, email lists, etc. Google homeschooling groups or clubs in your area and start attending meetings.
I always recommend that homeschoolers join the HSLDA, if possible. They can help you navigate your state’s homeschooling requirements, and provide support and advocacy.
Keep Some Continuity
Millions of American children were put through the wringer this year as schools were abruptly cancelled, activities tabled and graduations ceremonies cancelled. They’ve been through enough stress, so it makes sense to ease into the new school year as much as possible. Try to hold onto some familiar things like using some of the same textbooks that they would be using at school. Used copies can be found cheaply on Amazon or Ebay.
When scheduling your day, use words they are familiar with like “first period” and “recess.”
And make sure they can stay in touch with school friends!
Very few first time homeschooling families score a home run the first year. Heck, it might even take a few years, but you’ll get the hang of it. I promise! Because you know your children, and you know what’s best for them. And because home is an ideal place to nurture them and pass on your wisdom and your values. When I feel discouraged, or like I’m shortchanging my children because we can’t compete with traditional schools, my mother always tells me “Even a mediocre homeschool is far better than anything they’ll get at a government school.”
As you make lesson plans this fall, set small, realistic goals for yourself and your children. Be willing to adjust your plans, or try different books, if things don’t work out well. Homeschooling is flexible. Every year doesn’t have to look the same way. Keep moving forward!
Reflect on the Positives
While some of you may be excited about this new adventure, I’m sure there are many who are embarking with a whole lot of trepidation. Homeschooling is completely uncharted territory and it may be very overwhelming, especially if one or both parents is working.
So now would be a great time for a mental pep talk. Get out a piece of paper and write down the positives. Here are some thought starters.
- If you ever felt in the past that school was failing your child, think of homeschooling as a new way forward.
- Teaching your children will result in more family time.
- You are the most important influence in your child’s life; homeschooling reinforces that!
- Your children will be safer at home.
- You will save on school fees, gas money, extracurricular activities, etc.
- You will more easily learn what your child’s educational needs are.
- You will learn and expand your horizons in the process of teaching.
Don’t buy all the things! It’s better to get a lot done with just a few books than it is to barely scratch the surface with twenty of them. Start with a basic curriculum, and if it’s not challenging enough you can always add supplemental materials later in the year.
Some subjects don’t require you to buy anything at all! For instance, you can create a completely free reading program for a middle or high schooler by choosing some novels that you already own (or can check out from the library), and then downloading blank book report forms to use throughout the year.
If you have any questions, or want to share some advice with new homeschoolers, leave a comment below!