If you suddenly find yourself thrown into the world of homeschooling, you’re not alone. At the time of this writing, according to Education Week, more than 90,000 U.S. public and private schools are closed due to the CoronaVirus pandemic – affecting more than 42-million school students.
Whether you’re homeschooling because you were thrown into it or because you’re choosing to homeschool – no doubt it’s a bit scary. Don’t worry – that is totally normal and pretty much every new homeschool mom goes through it.
Homeschooling is legal in all fifty states and might just be easier than you think to get started. According to the U.S. Department of Education more than two-million families homeschool. That means they’ve paved the way for you.
In fact, we talked with more than 30 homeschool moms to discover their best advice for new homeschool moms. Then we compiled their best tips just for you. Check it out and share with any mom who could use this support.
One of the biggest mistakes most people make when starting to homeschool, is diving in too deep too soon. Just keep in mind, you don’t have to launch right in with a full-fledged 8-hour curriculum of activities, videos and worksheets for your kids. All that does is create overwhelm for you and stress out your kids.
Instead, consider taking some time to reconnect as a family before diving into a curriculum. Especially if you have a younger child, don’t be afraid to just make this a time to focus on being together as a family and having fun. Children of all ages learn through play and this time can also make for great memories.
Kids learn from play
As we mentioned above, kids learn from play. When most of us started homeschooling we did what we had learned in school. In other words, “school” meant worksheets, writing, and sitting at a desk. But those of us in this article soon realized homeschool doesn’t have to be that way and it could be so much more!
Think about it — in a traditional classroom a teacher has to cater to 22+ kids. So of course there is going to be “filler” work such as worksheets, workbooks, group time, and computer time.
Young children have such a strong desire for knowledge and fun that you can ditch the traditional classroom and intertwine the two. Just let your kids natural curiosity to lead the way. If your child wants to learn about space – then maybe you watch some videos, head to the library for some books, tour a museum, check out some learning apps for iPad or Kindle, or build a rocket ship out of cardboard boxes. The possibilities are only as far as your imagination.
Need more ideas? Try these:
- Play board games
- Do puzzles
- Cook together
- Start a hobby
- Plant a spring garden
- Take a nature hike
- Start a journal
Each and every one of these activities are educational for children, without mimicking school. And most kids enjoy it when we can incorporate things they love into the learning. For example, many families have used LEGOs to build habitats for pretend animals, explore the Native Americans and Pilgrims, and countless STEM projects. Get creative and have fun! Your kids will remember the things they are most excited about.
It’s about quality not quantity
In a regular public or private school your child is required to be there a set number of hours. In homeschool that’s not the case. Two-Four hours a day is usually the average amount of time most families spend homeschooling their children on the foundations – such as reading, writing, math, history and science. The rest of the time is learning through play and exploration. That’s because without the distractions of school, your child can get done quicker. In a classroom setting it takes longer to learn because there are more kids to manage.
Take a deep breathe
If you do find yourself overstressed or seconds from ripping your hair out, the best advice is to stop putting so much pressure on yourself.
Think about your own school career. Do you remember everything you studied in school? Probably not. There are naturally going to be gaps and that is okay.
How to homeschool long term
If you’ve read this far and still want to homeschool then congratulations! You can do it and here are a few steps to getting started with homeschool.
- Research your state homeschooling laws and fulfill their requirements
- Understand your student’s learning styles and what motivates them. Take this Homeschool Styles Quiz and this Learning Styles Quiz to get you started!
- Research curriculum that supports your homeschool goals and your student’s learning styles. If your goal is temporary homeschooling then use a homeschool curriculum that is easy to start. Time4Learning offers a free Welcome to Homeschool guide for those just getting started.
- Organize your homeschooling location. Where in your home will you store all of your things and do most of your work? We have a designated room but I know many families just use their living room.
- Decide your curriculum. Also realize it’s okay if half-way through the curriculum you decide you don’t like it and opt for a different one. Homeschool is flexible.
- Plan for daily homeschooling and determine your daily schedule.
- Take a deep breath, and get started!
Check out this post to read more comments about homeschool from real moms.