Our homeschooling journey has been such a blessing, but it's definitely been a growing experience with a steep learning curve for everyone. It's not only an adjustment for kids and parents – it's an adjustment for the entire family unit - including the extended family.
In the beginning things might be a little rough as the transition period starts for your family. All adjustments are going to have growing pains and switching to homeschooling is no different.
After doing this for a decade with our family and riding through the learning curve together, I wanted to give you some tips for successful homeschooling. Here's what's worked best for us!
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How to Successfully Homeschool
1. KEEP THINGS SIMPLE
When I first sat down and decided to consider homeschooling, I was very overwhelmed. It was stressful, because there were so many different things that could be used as curriculum. I wanted to get everything, but that, of course, would be impossible - not to mention impractical!
One of the best tips I was ever given was to keep things simple. Find the curriculum that works for you or create your own if you don't find the perfect one. There are so many different, amazing things that you can purchase, but in the end – keeping it simple works best for everyone. And, if you’re doing homeschool preschool, you can find most of what you need online!
2. BE PREPARED TO BE FLEXIBLE
While most homeschooling families do have schedules, one thing we also have is the ability to be flexible. You can plan your entire month of lesson plans, but what you can’t plan is when a child is sick, or the power goes out, or many other things that can happen.
This also applies when it comes to curriculum. While you might think you have found the perfect one, as you start using it – you might find that it doesn't work quite as well as you had hoped for your family. If it doesn't work, don't be afraid to switch it out to something that does.
Thankfully, because of homeschooling, you can move things around and allow your family to still learn. Every single day, no matter where you are, there is an ability to learn something new.
3. CREATE YOUR SCHEDULE & MAKE IT KNOWN
One of the biggest challenges that comes from starting to homeschool is getting people to recognize that you're actually busy and not just sitting around all day. If your family is switching to doing schooling in the afternoon or early night because of work schedules, you need to make sure that extended family and friends are aware of this.
For our family, things run a lot smoother when we have a schedule – but we're still very flexible.
Having a known schedule also help eliminate or reduce calls, texts, or people dropping by during your homeschooling hours.
Pro Tip: Make sure that you create breaks in the schedule, so that everyone gets the chance to rest their brain.
4. BE ORGANIZED AND INFORMED
Part of being a homeschooling parent is also being an advocate for your children’s education. Before you fully commit to this, you should be sure that you understand the laws for your local area. It is also a great idea to see if there are any homeschooling groups that you can connect with in your area.
Many states (like PA!) require parents to have certain records that show very detailed information about each day of homeschooling. Other states do not require as much detail, but will still require some record keeping. You will need to be organized with this information and have it easily accessible as well.
5. MAKE LEARNING FUN
While you must make sure that your children are learning, you also want them to enjoy the work as much as possible. Studies have shown that when children are having fun that they can often retain the information better.
There are a multitude of games, posters, books, and more that are fun while also being educational. Thanks to the internet, you can now find tons of free crafts that are fun and go with the lessons you are doing.
6. BECOME BEST FRIENDS WITH GOOGLE
Google is really the best friend of any homeschooling parent. When you get stuck, you can always find some help online. When you feel like you are doing a bad job or need to change some things up, you can always find someone who can relate and might even have some tips for you to make things better.
When things are getting a little too mundane, you can always find some fun activities to add to your lesson plans. In addition to the things mentioned – you can find many forums, magazines, podcast, and more that can help you stay connected to the global homeschooling community. With such a huge community, you are never alone.
7. BE COMMITTED
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – homeschooling is going to have bumps along the way. It’s not an easy journey to get into a good daily routine with your family. But...you should try to commit to at least a year of homeschooling to get a feel for it. Trust me, it's going to go by in the blink of an eye!
During that first year (and honestly even the second and third!), you are going to have many changes and will eventually get closer to what works best for you.
As your children get older and enter the upper grades, you will have another shift to get used to. This is where being friends with Google will come in very handy! Those advanced subjects can be tricky!
Most important, try to be present and there with your children during your homeschooling hours. Schedule your household chores and other things for later and give all your attention to your children during your homeschooling hours.
At the end of the day,homeschoolingis a journey. It’s not going to be perfect and nobody has all the answers. And you are NOT alone.
While you're homeschooling, you are making lasting memories with your family that will be treasured for years to come. You can and will be successful. I believe in you!