By: Courtney Newman
Homeschooling isn’t merely an educational choice, it’s a lifestyle. Homeschooling will impact every area of your life, from your wallet and your time, to finding the “educational aspect” of every movie you watch and game you play. Now that you have chosen to homeschool your children, congratulations, you have donned the homeschool lenses through which you will now view the world. This is a good thing, though, because it means unlocking the fullest potential of every learning moment!
However, homeschooling does not come without struggles or trial and error. In all honesty, there will be several difficult days. Sometimes, it’s an act of sheer will alone to wear the hats of both parent and teacher. As much as it’s fantastic to hear the homeschool help for parents, and the encouragement of other homeschooling parents cheering you on, sometimes, we need someone to nod along, commiserate, and say, “I’ve been there!” It’s okay to have a rough day. It’s okay to call off school in its entirety and try again the next day!
That being said, we do still want to be encouraging. These tough days will be worth it in the end, as you walk beside your kid in their educational journey. Imagine the joy of seeing them grow up as kids under your support and instruction, to independent adults! Here are a few of our tips for minimizing those difficult moments, whether you are in your first year of homeschooling, or even your fifth!
Managing Expectations: Homeschooling vs Public School
I find my expectations to trip me up the most. I have a particular idea of what something should look like, or how an experience should go, and when it doesn’t match up, I end up stressed and frustrated, or even overwhelmed. However, most of the time, that negative reaction would have never occurred if I had managed my expectations to begin with.
The same can be said for many families as they start their homeschooling journey. I would hazard a guess that one of the biggest areas of false expectations with homeschooling starts with the image of public school at home. The picture of “school” has been so deeply ingrained into our minds and society that it’s even hard to imagine homeschooling without a dedicated schoolroom, individual desks, backpacks, whiteboards, a teacher’s desk, and even a painfully rigorous schedule. I found myself wondering whether it would be “proper” school without a similar setup.
In all fairness, all of those individual elements — the desks, the whiteboard, the homeschooling space — are definitely a great homeschool help. However, they are not necessary. These visual aids encourage homeschooling parents to try to match public schools, and that’s typically what we are trying to avoid when we choose to homeschool.
To stay sane while homeschooling, we need to acknowledge that it won’t look like school at home. We don’t need the same setup, books, or pencils. We can ditch the schedule and create our own. We can take breaks when we like, or even match with the public school timeline if we prefer. Choose to learn out in the backyard, on a nature walk, at your kitchen table, or on the sofa or your bed. Learn from textbooks, online, or unschool (per your state’s regulations). As homeschoolers, we aren’t trying to match the public school system, and if we do, we will likely meet frustration and problems. Homeschooling is all about encouraging the learning process and curiosity children already have, but in a more positive and natural environment.
How to Start Homeschooling
The biggest question facing anyone seriously interested in homeschooling is: “I want to homeschool my child, where do I start?” You likely feel as if you are standing on the edge of a precipice, your arms outstretched, your heart hopeful, but your eyes can’t see the path ahead. When we grew up being taught via the traditional school route, and most of our friends did as well, just considering homeschooling can be hard to grasp. We are taught by society to have a singular perspective of education. Considering that, knowing how to start homeschooling is a big question, and an understandable one. If you are new to homeschool and wondering where to start, we hope these suggestions can be helpful.
Pre-K – Elementary
When you’re starting to homeschool in the early years, try to focus on keeping school fun and motivating. We would suggest as many hands-on activities, outdoor adventures, and fun research as possible. To start homeschooling your pre-k or elementary student, first look into your state’s requirements for homeschooling to know what steps to take legally, and once you have their guidelines, consider which curriculum will fit your family best.
If your to-be homeschooled student is in middle school, this is a great age to take the learning style quiz. When you know your student’s learning style, it will be so much easier to choose a homeschooling approach or curriculum that works effectively for them!
Homeschooling a high schooler can be more intimidating than the other grades, but it’s still completely possible. Not only can you homeschool through the high school years, but your high schooler can succeed just as well, if not more, than in traditional public school! To get started, again check with your state laws before selecting a curriculum. Our biggest suggestion for high school is to create a basic 4-year plan with your student’s preferred career route or colleges in mind. This beginner’s guide has excellent information specifically for starting to homeschool a high schooler.
Homeschooling Multiple Children on Different Levels
How can you homeschool multiple children at once? Picture this: it’s a Monday morning, your children have all alternately asked for your help, perhaps a couple aren’t cooperating well, and you have a fussy baby on your lap. How to get through the day with any amount of success? Here are our tips!
- Dust off your planner, because that will be your best tool for homeschooling multiple children. Start small with a weekly plan to help allow for flexibility when needed.
- Plan out blocks each day to work with your children separately.
- Add in group learning when possible, perhaps by tacking on extra assignments, projects, or reading for your older kids.
- Try game schooling!
- Try to use online curriculum so your kids have the program to guide them while you work with another child.