Homeschooling can be a great learning adventure for you and your family, but it can also be exhausting. After all, how can you successfully wear the hats of the classroom teacher, gym coach, and even counselor all in one day?
These tips will help you to successfully set up a well-rounded homeschooling program.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel
The homeschooling community is full of women who have tried, failed, tried again, and, lucky for you, want to share their experiences. There is so much information out there about homeschooling, both from professionals and hands-on parents, that can set you up for success in building your homeschool program. Don’t take this knowledge bank for granted. Learn from others’ mistakes!
Ask the right questions about homeschool
While you may be reading homeschooling advice from helpful parents worldwide, you don’t want to miss out on essential requirements for your area. You may be obligated to keep attendance records or formal assessments. This will cause a lot less stress for you and your kids if you can plan for these things in advance.
Use social media to your advantage
Consider social media as a useful resource. As I mentioned earlier, most homeschooling parents are eager to share their advice online. There may be a local Facebook group for homeschooling moms in your area. This can be an invaluable resource for your kids but also for you. Let’s face it, sometimes you just need to talk to another adult about what you’re going through, and who better to give advice than other homeschool moms!
Get involved with real life homeschool groups
While social media allows you to grow in online groups across the nation, it’s also essential to evolve in real-life social networks. You and your kids will appreciate the social interaction and learning opportunities. Our best advice is to search for co-ops or other homeschool groups that meet weekly or monthly. You can search Facebook, check out the Meetup app, or ask other homeschool moms you’ve met. If your community has an Area Education Agency, see if they have a Homeschool Assistance Program. A group close to home can allow your children to participate in social activities such as field day, science fairs, or academic competitions while building relationships.
Map out your homeschool journey
Whether they teach in a classroom, online, or at home, any teacher will tell you that you need an effective plan. There are tons of curriculum plans available for purchase, including individual units, entire year plans, and specialized plans.
You can also supplement through online learning, such as with Khan Academy or Easy Peezy. Both of these are free programs, but there are many paid options too.
Don’t let this scare you from adding in your own ideas and activities. You are the boss, after all. If you don’t like a particular lesson or have a better idea, go for it! You know your kids better than a stranger who wrote a curriculum aimed at a vast audience. You have the authority to customize your children’s learning plan in a way that makes sense for your family.
Prepare your “classroom”
When it comes to mixing home and work (and school), boundaries are important and necessary. It is crucial to identify your homeschooling space and make sure you have what you need. This depends entirely on your house’s size and set up, so take some time to consider how you use your own spaces.
If you consider the kitchen table for your homeschooling station, invest in some bins or drawers for storing school work nearby. After a day of homeschooling, the last thing you need is to spill spaghetti sauce on a report that your child has spent hours working on. Being able to put school away at the end of the day will be the perfect transition into family mealtime in the evening.
Create a space for independent learning. Have books that correlate with your child’s learning available in bins they can pull from at any time. Education games and videos, plus crafts and learning projects, can also be incorporated as something your child can independently do at any time.
Consider your child’s working habits
Do they work better alone without any distractions? Or do you need to keep an eye on them when they are supposed to be reading independently? Depending on how many children you are homeschooling (and once again, how big your house is,) you will want to set boundaries on where everyone should work independently.
Pack a lunch
It may seem silly to pack a lunch if you’re not going to take it anywhere, but it could end up saving your schedule and your sanity. Pre-planning and making lunch the night before or in the early morning will save you so much time in the middle of the day. It may seem enticing to enjoy a hot lunch since you’re near the kitchen anyway, but consider the prepping, cooking, serving, eating, and having to wash the dishes. As a homeschooling parent, you are already asked to do a lot, and being a short-order cook does not have to be one of those things.
Set SMART goals
SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. It is so vital to the academic process that your children set these goals for themselves. Like planning out your curriculum, you have to have a plan for where you are headed to make sure that the tasks you spend your time on will get you where you want to be. While each of your children may have hugely varying goals, it can be simple to schedule goal-setting and check-in time together. Have your children share their goals with you and with each other to increase accountability. Here are some examples of SMART goals:
I will be able to read independently for 15 minutes without getting distracted by the end of 3 weeks.
I will have my multiplication facts (0-5) memorized by the end of the week.
I will be able to have a 5-minute conversation about the Civil War and its lasting effects on our nation by the end of this unit.
Make a schedule and stick to it. If you studied literature in college, it could be easy to spend a whole day reading, writing, and analyzing books with your children. Without a schedule, it can be hard to ensure that you provide your child with the well-rounded education they need. It may help plan your child’s least favorite things earlier in the day or space them out with something they enjoy in between.
Anyone who works with children in any capacity will tell you that flexibility is critical. Suppose you and your child are deeply engaged in a conversation about Disney’s The Lion King’s plot development. In that case, it isn’t necessary to cut them off when the timer rings and tell them they can talk about it tomorrow. However, cutting out math every single day because you hate it moves beyond flexibility. Make sure that you are setting your children up for success.
Take off your teacher’s hat. At the end of the day, your children have so much more than academic needs. It is important to check-in on your children’s emotional well-being to ensure they aren’t feeling isolated or unsuccessful. Remember that no matter how much a student struggles at school, they get to go home when the final bell rings. Ensure that your child has a balance of academics, socialization, alone time, and family time. Mix things up!
Carrying the parent, teacher, counselor, authority figure, and mentor’s responsibility can be challenging. Be sure to prepare yourself and your children for the most success by planning ahead. After all, the time spent making memories with your kids and watching them grow is worth every minute.