Tips and Advice for New Homeschoolers
Curious about homeschooling? Wondering what it’s like to be a new homeschooler? If so, you’re in the right place!
This post is intended to answer the questions of those who are new to homeschooling or considering it and debunk some common homeschooling myths.
Tips for Successful Homeschooling
Create a Space for Learning
Whether your homeschooling area is in the kitchen or in a dedicated room, it’s important to be able to separate learning time from daily life. A space for learning should include:
- A table and chairs where students can sit comfortably and spread out their work
- A bulletin board where you post notes about upcoming activities and projects
- A desk where you can spread out books or whiteboards for your lessons
- A cabinet or shelf area to store art supplies, games, and other learning tools
Stick to a Regular Schedule
Creating and maintaining a schedule for your homeschooling day will help you get the most out of it. You should make sure that learning activities are balanced with play, chores, and family time. The schedule doesn’t have to follow a rigid pattern. In fact, it can be very beneficial if there is some flexibility built-in.
Be Proactive and Flexible
Although consistency is key to successful homeschooling, you should expect and plan for the unexpected. Things happen: sick days, flat bicycle tires, and bad weather. If you’re prepared for these events when they come up, your homeschooling day won’t suffer. One way to plan for such contingencies is to have a list of things that each student needs to accomplish at home—reading, math problems, research papers, book reports, and so forth. When interrupted with an unplanned day or evening away from your lessons, you can simply refer to this list and pick up again where you left off.
Work as a Team
It’s essential for parents to work as a team when they homeschool their children. The right teamwork can improve your efforts and maintain family harmony, but the wrong teamwork can lead to conflict, resentment, and failure. Before you start homeschooling together, talk about what each of you expects out of the experience. If you both have different expectations or ideas about how it should be done, talk them out.
Also, consider how you’ll divide up responsibilities for the new homeschooling venture. Will you take turns on specific days covering just your own subjects? Will one of you cover all the subjects some days and the other all of the others? Decide how to handle it together, make compromises where needed, but know that flexibility is key.
Create a Positive Atmosphere
Positive attitudes and creativity can go a long way toward creating a homeschooling experience you’ll remember fondly as the years pass. In addition to your roles as teacher, parent, and administrator, you have an additional responsibility—you must be your children’s number one cheerleader.
Whether your child is struggling to grasp a concept or just completed an award-winning project, constantly shower him or her with praise and encouragement. You should also try to maintain a peaceful environment full of encouragement.
Some people believe that homeschooling works best in chaotic situations when children are relaxed and unthreatened. However, for some students, it can be beneficial to have a quiet, peaceful area where homework and learning can take place without disruptions from siblings or playmates.
Interact with the Community
In addition to your family and friends, it’s important to interact with people outside of your home. Churches often provide social opportunities for homeschooling families as well as assistance if needed.
You should also consider regular field trips to museums, libraries, or parks. Volunteering with charities is another way you can build your community—it’s good for others and it’s great for you. Many volunteer opportunities are open to homeschoolers, so you can contribute your time and talent without spending much money.
Share the Responsibility
As with most things in life, if you share the responsibility of homeschooling with your spouse, it will be easier on both of you. Even though one parent may need to work more rigid hours than the other, the time spent homeschooling and learning with your children can be a wonderful collaboration and an excellent bonding experience.
Don’t Overdo It
You’ve probably heard the saying “quality, not quantity.” This applies to homeschooling as well as just about everything else in life. Spending too much time on homeschooling can actually work against you.
Instead of focusing on the lesson at hand, you might find yourself fretting over whether or not your child is getting enough socialization, or if he or she has too much free time, and so forth. These concerns can also detract from the homeschooling experience itself. Don’t think that just because you’re homeschooling your children, they’ll never have time for other things.
Make Learning a Family Pastime
Homeschooling doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be challenging, rewarding, and most importantly fun. As with any family activity, include your children in the process as much as you reasonably can. They may not want to go along at first, but if you make it fun they’ll come around eventually.
You might also want to consider enrolling your children in co-op classes or extracurricular activities. These will give them the chance to learn practical skills outside of the home environment while still allowing them to maintain control over what they are learning and when.
Collaborate With Other Homeschoolers to Make Your Curriculum More Interesting
When homeschooling students, it’s important to choose interesting and accessible material. It doesn’t mean that you should pick easy-to-understand texts—depending on your child’s skill level as this may or may not be beneficial. Instead, try finding topics that spark your child’s interests. As long as they’re interested in a subject, chances are they’ll want to learn more about it.
Choose a Theme
Homeschooling doesn’t have to be all about the books—most of what you do as a homeschooler is intended to facilitate learning and encourage curiosity. This includes your curriculum as well as the general lifestyle of education outside of the classroom. You don’t have to constantly switch gears when teaching different subjects—in fact, it’s better if you don’t.
For instance, if your child is interested in learning about the solar system, you can set up a theme that lasts for several weeks. This way, they’ll become more familiar with the topic and should be able to retain more information. Science, history, art, music—pick a theme that interests your child and go with it.
Start Slowly and Gradually Increase Your Time in School
Homeschooling can be overwhelming for both you and your child. Even if your homeschool program is based on a theme, don’t think that this will make homeschooling any easier. The best approach to homeschooling is gradual; it should appear natural instead of forced.
More Tips for Successful Homeschooling
- Allow children to learn at their own pace. Some students learn quickly, some slowly. A method that works well with one student might not work well with another.
- Do not pressure your children to learn things that they are not interested in or ready for. Homeschooling is about learning, and you will be more successful if you follow your child’s lead.
- Make sure to occasionally take time off from homeschooling so that your child can relax and enjoy life. This also applies to homeschooling parents—we all need time for ourselves!
- Talk with your child’s teacher, guidance counselor, and principal about their progress in school both academically and socially. Make sure you are aware of any potential problems before they happen so that you can fix them before it’s too late.
- Check your child’s grades regularly. If they are not doing well academically, it may be time to consider a change of curriculum or even homeschooling methods.
- Don’t forget that you’re allowed to teach your own way. You don’t have to stick with the standard school method—if something works for you, do it. Make sure you try out alternatives before giving up.
- Discuss ideas for your child’s curriculum with their teacher. If possible, ask the teacher to visit your home to look at what you’re doing in order to get an idea of how you are teaching.
- When homeschooling, make sure that you are able to teach all required courses. If you don’t know how to teach a particular subject, try finding someone who can teach it for you (such as through homeschooling groups).
- Homeschooling is not always about acquiring skills and knowledge—it’s also about developing character traits such as discipline, honesty, courage, persistence, compassion, etc. Encourage these traits in your child whenever possible.
- Try to make homeschooling more like traditional schooling if you can—this should make it easier on both yourself and your child. If this isn’t an option for you, try not to worry too much about it.
- Don’t forget that learning should be fun! Homeschooling doesn’t have to be drudgery—include activities that you and your child both enjoy.
- Remember to praise your child for a job well done. This will make them more confident as a learner, as well as more willing to try new things. Have patience with yourself and your child as you learn this new way of life! The first year is sure to be an adjustment, but stick with it and you’ll find that homeschooling isn’t only possible—it’s enjoyable and rewarding!
What Should I Do the First Week of Homeschooling?
Most people will start homeschooling with a list of things to accomplish in the first week. This is usually common sense, and you’ll probably already know what needs to be done. However, if this is your first time homeschooling, here are some suggestions:
- Get together all of the supplies and materials you’ll need (books, paper, pens, etc.)
- Gather up any paperwork you need (diplomas, transcripts, medical records, report cards, etc.) and send them to the appropriate people (usually your child’s school and doctor).
- Make a schedule and follow it. For example, Monday – Work on math; Tuesday – Work on English; Thursday – Read for 30 minutes; etc.
- Make sure that you and your child know where and when to meet for classes (you can decide on a place like the living room, dining room, or even the driveway if it’s not likely to be an inconvenience). Be sure to notify anyone who might need to use that area of your house.
- Begin learning! If you are using a textbook that doesn’t have any problems to be worked out, then begin by reading the chapter that corresponds with your child’s grade level. If there are no problems to work out, do some of the exercises yourself and let your child try them as well. For example, if you’re using a math textbook, try doing as many of the problems as you can and then let your child do some themselves.
- Set up a schedule for your child to keep track of work done. Depending on their grade level, this should be every day or at least every week.
How Do I Get Better at Homeschooling?
First, you need to keep in mind that homeschooling isn’t easy—we all have a bit of a learning curve! The important thing is to spend some time learning and researching. Most importantly though, don’t be shy—ask for help from other homeschoolers if you have questions or problems!
- Try going to a homeschooling group meeting at a local library, community center, etc. The people you meet should be able to help you out with any problems or questions you have.
- Check your state’s homeschooling laws and read up on them if necessary.
- If possible, join a homeschooling group for support and friendship from other homeschooling families.
How many hours a day is recommended for homeschooling?
Homeschoolers should set aside between one and two hours a day during the elementary years, two to three hours a day during the middle school years, and three to four hours a week during high school. This schedule can be adjusted according to your child’s learning pace and personal needs. This schedule should also include time for planning lessons, completing assignments, and taking breaks.
What is the Difference between Homeschooling and Private Schooling?
Homeschooling parents are responsible for their children’s education at all times, including during school vacations (unlike private school teachers). Homeschooling parents also choose the curriculum and teaching materials, while public school parents must use state-approved curricula.
Who Can Teach My Child?
Homeschoolers can hire a teacher (usually called an “educational consultant”) or teach their child themselves. If you’re not ready to homeschool yourself, you can get tutoring from the High School of America.
What are the Benefits of Homeschooling?
Homeschoolers have many advantages over students who attend public schools.
- More individualized attention.
- The chance to learn at a slower or faster pace than the rest of the students in your grade level, allowing for better comprehension and understanding. Homeschoolers can also skip grades altogether if they have mastered the necessary knowledge.
- The opportunity to spend time with other family members instead of just going off to school.
- A more relaxed and stress-free environment for learning that allows children to develop healthy social relationships on their own terms.
- The ability to acquire a better understanding of your child’s specific interests and needs.
Disadvantages of Homeschooling
Homeschoolers do have some disadvantages, including:
- Having no sports teams to join.
- No prom, homecoming, or other school dances and events.
- Not having that sense of camaraderie that can develop in a public school setting.
Overcoming Homeschooling Challenges
As a homeschooler, you may find yourself in unfamiliar territory—you’re the teacher! Here are a few tips for getting started:
- Accept help from other homeschooling families.
- Offer to share your teaching knowledge with other homeschoolers.
- Ask your local school district if you can volunteer at your child’s school to help out with special projects.
- Contact your state’s homeschooling association for more ideas on teaching methods and resources.
- Ask other homeschooling parents what their biggest challenges have been so you’ll be prepared ahead of time!
Common Myths about Homeschooling
There are tons of misconceptions out there about home education, but here are four big ones:
Myth #1: Homeschoolers are more likely to be social outcasts.
This is completely false. While you may have an awkward first year, it won’t take long for your child to find friends who share similar interests. And it’s not just children that can find solace in the homeschool community – there are tons of homeschool groups made up of parents as well as adult learners.
Myth #2: Kids who are home-educated have no opportunities for socialization.
This couldn’t be further from the truth – homeschoolers have many opportunities to connect with others, whether it’s through clubs, sports teams, classes at a local college or university, or even organizing their own gatherings.
Myth #3: Homeschooling is for religious fanatics.
Again, this couldn’t be further from the truth! While it’s true that many home educators are religious – some more devoutly than others – homeschooling is not exclusive to any religion or sect. And of course, while some home educators may choose to incorporate religion into their home education experience, others may not.
Myth #4: You have to teach your children yourself.
Homeschooling parents can teach their children themselves, or seek help from other resources. For example, High School of America offers an online homeschool curriculum solution for parents who struggle to teach certain topics.
Online High School for Homeschoolers
High School of America is an online homeschooling high school. The curriculum is accepted in all 50 states and can be taken entirely over the Internet. We offer a complete high school diploma program at an affordable price. We provide tutoring if needed and offer college counseling services to help students realize their dreams of higher education.
Homeschooling families looking for a high school curriculum that will meet their specific needs should consider our programs. We can show you how to take back control over your child’s education and provide the tools and resources needed to make that happen.
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