I love new homeschoolers! I remember being a new mom to the homeschool scene, and how confusing and overwhelming this new world seemed to be. I remember being gullible, believing that homeschool veterans had all the answers because they knew everything about teaching kids.
Here are some of my best pieces of advice, some of which I received, and all of which I give to new homeschoolers:
1. It’s YOUR SCHOOL. Let me say that again. It’s your school. You can run it the way that you want to. Your kids, your schedule, your challenges, your home, your life. What works for me may not work for you.
2. Don’t bring the school home with you. This goes back to it being your school, but I did it and I’m sure most of you will too, at least to some extent. Homeschooling is not like a regular school classroom. Don’t turn it into one, unless you’re okay with your kids hating homeschooling after a while.
3. You have to be HOME to homeschool. Yes, I know we do school on the road sometimes. I know there are field trips, and shopping, and friends. There are also kids who depend on you to give some sort of structure to their days. Be sure you are spending enough time at home to let that happen.
4. Sometimes you have to just pick one thing and work on it to completion. There are days around our house where I know that if we can just get my son through his math (we have special needs) then it will be a good day. If your child is struggling with one particular thing and it just seems like he can’t move ahead, then don’t. Drop the other subjects and come up with some creative ways to help him learn that one thing.
5. Take breaks. Lots of them, if they are younger or have special needs.
6. Take advantage of local resources to add variety to your education. County, state and national parks often have kid’s science and conservation programs running from spring through fall. There are also many other possibilities that are only limited by your imagination (and maybe funds, but if you plan carefully you may still be able to do them!)
7. Kindergarten is not an academic year. Don’t burn out your 5-year old with 7 subjects and rigidly scheduled days! I taught Kindergarten to 4 of my kids, and it took no more than an hour a day! And that hour? Was NOT consecutive. Math was about 20 minutes, and manipulative based. Handwriting practice was worksheets from Donna Young.org, placed in plastic sheet protectors. They would work on them until they got tired, no longer than about 10 minutes. Phonics was about 15 minutes. The rest of the time was spent with me reading aloud not only to my K’er but also to the older kids. We read nature magazines and historical fiction, science books, and funny poetry. Kindergarten is easy and fun and very gentle. Don’t push.
8. Buy composition notebooks a case at a time when they go on sale in the summer. Seriously. We use these things for everything!
9. Always write lesson plans in pencil.
10. When it get stressful, grab a good read aloud, put your kids on your lap or close to you, and just read. This will really take the load off of your shoulders as well as your kids’ and help you reconnect with the why of homeschooling. Relationships are the key!!
This post is part of the 10-in-10 series over at iHomeschool Network.com!