When the virus hit, the world as many knew it changed drastically. While there were families homeschooling previously, the number of new families to start their homeschool journey increased drastically. Children who were previously attending public schools, charter schools, and private schools found themselves at home, either distance learning or as full on ‘real’ first-time homeschoolers.
So whether you have young kids and you’re considering home schooling in the future, currently new homeschoolers because of the recent years circumstances, or if you’re a seasoned homeschool family; we’re sharing all about how to homeschool today. Because the bottom line is that we, as parents or legal guardians, are all just looking for the best way to educate our children; and that may look a little different for each family.
This biggest thing to remember is that at every age and skill level, it is important to focus on improving abilities rather than proving abilities. This means teaching your kid(s) that having the skill is just the start, and that they’ll receive satisfaction with improving that capability with increased effort.
- The Different Types Of Homeschoolers
- Important Advice For New Homeschoolers:
- Busting Some Homeschool Myths – Did You Know:
- My Start To Homeschooling
- Still Learning
- 9 Tips On How To Homeschool Successfully
- 1:) Add At Least A Little Bit Of Structure – Daily Schedules
- 2:) Make It Fun
- 3:) Stay Home (Sort Of):
- 4:) Dedicated School Time And An Encouraging Work Space
- Our Homeschool Space
- 5:) Use Games To Learn
- 6:) Utilize Your Local Library
- 7:) Plan Some Field Trips
- 8:) Join A Co-Op
- 9:) Give Yourself Grace
- How Can I Help?
- Related Posts:
The Different Types Of Homeschoolers
Until I started homeschooling, I had no idea that there were so many different homeschool options available for homeschooled students. The first step is to learn about some of the different styles a homeschool mom, dad, or guardian may choose. NOTE: You can combine your homeschool method with other resources to create an eclectic learning experience:
- Un-Schooling: This is where the kids lead in the learning. They chose the topics, activities, etc. The philosophy of un-schooling is the belief that kids are naturally curious and will learn on their own. Few, if any, text books are ever used.
- Traditional Homeschooling: The traditional homeschooling method is where the parent or caregiver acts as the teacher. This type of home education typically utilizes books and resources but the parent is the one leading, teaching, assigning, and grading. Now, understand that this does NOT necessarily look like a typical public school day. The teaching can be indoors or out and done at any time throughout the day; utilizing many different methods and styles of teaching. While some homeschooled families do structure their days to look more like the typical public school, most don’t as they find that method less effective.
- Online School: There are several different options for online homeschooling. Different companies provide curriculum options where the kids are taught through online programs. Some even have teachers sharing the information but the parent is still in control of what the kids do as well as the grading.
- Public/Virtual School At Home – K12: Public school at home is where the “school” you go through provides all materials. This may include a computer, art supplies, books, and more; however, the kids have to attend online classes, submit homework, follow teacher’s rules, and track school attendance and hours. Most of the families that I know who have tried this option have been less satisfied with the experience for a variety of reasons.
Then, there are a plethora of other methods and homeschooling types such as Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Waldorf, and more. You can even take advantage of some home study program options like Study.com as an additional resource. I won’t be going into those today but feel free to google if you’re interested in learning more about alternative methods. One thing to note, many times, special education services for kids with special needs are still available through your local district, even if the child is home schooled.
Important Advice For New Homeschoolers:
The way your family does school will not look like how anyone else does school. Take what works, discard what doesn’t, and as your kids grow, your methods may change – and that’s the beauty of homeschooling!
• There is no such thing as “behind” or “ahead”.
• It can take time to get your groove as you get started on your homeschool journey. Give it a chance! Have grace!
• When you’ve a difficult day (or days), choose to be intentional in choosing gratitude.
• Every homeschool mom goes through the “winter slump”. Please know, it’s normal and you aren’t alone. It’s a phase, and it will pass.
• Self-care, self-care, self-care. If Mama’s not ok, nothing is going to work. Learning to accept help from others is critical. Take time to let them play. It will give you a breather. Play is essential to learning and developing.
• The greatest recognition we can ever be awarded is, “Well done, good and faithful servant”. This is what matters above all achievements, academic or otherwise. This one is Eternal.
• You CAN do it. You ARE qualified. You ARE enough!
Busting Some Homeschool Myths – Did You Know:
- Homeschoolers are socialized. There are many ways homeschooled kids interact with others. Personally, we are a part of a homeschool co-op, attend youth groups, Bible Club/AWANA, and have plenty of play dates. Homeschool sports and clubs are also an option. If you look, you’ll find so many extra-curricular activities available for you to take advantage of!
- Field trips and other hands on learning can absolutely be a part of your journey/homeschool life.
- Your homeschooled children can earn a high school diploma while homeschooling.
- The homeschool year doesn’t need to happen at your kitchen table.
- Homeschool curriculum is not a one-size-fits all. (Neither is public schooled education as each child’s learning style is different.) Part of the beauty with homeschooling is that kids can work below, at, or above grade level by mixing and matching a variety of resources.
- Most often, your local school district is fairly easy to work with. You will need to file your state’s notice of intent to homeschool and then just check your homeschool laws for any other needed paperwork and deadlines to file with your public school district.
(PRO TIP: Double check what’s actually required by your state as many school districts will give you a stack of papers to fill out when they truly aren’t necessary.)
- As a homeschool parent, you can almost always find a local support group to tie into. These local support groups can be a great resource as you build your homeschool community. They are a great place to ask any important questions you may have.
- State laws for homeschooling vary state by state. Some states make homeschooling easier than others. (Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, but each state has different homeschool laws that regulate how parents can homeschool their children. Some states have very restrictive homeschooling rules, such as subject, reporting, and testing requirements, while others are more relaxed.)
- You’re not alone! Search for a nearby homeschool convention to attend where you’ll learn about resources for a compulsory education as well as connect with other homeschool students and parents.
My Start To Homeschooling
I decided to start Hannah in Kindergarten at the age of 4. That way, if it didn’t work out, I could send her the following year to public school kindergarten and nothing would be lost. (NOTE: I no longer start my kids at the age of 4. I typically wait to do kindergarten till 5 or even 6 years old.)
But I’m excited to say that homeschooling did work well for our family that year and every year since! While I don’t consider myself an expert by any means, I’m going to share some of my knowledge on how to homeschool in hopes of encouraging and helping other families who are considering this journey.
This year is our 12th year of homeschooling. It honestly doesn’t feel like that at all because every year is a new experience as the kids get older. Hannah is a junior in high school and also dually enrolled at the local college doing PSEO. (YEP! Homeschooled kids in Minnesota can take advantage of free college in high school just like the public schooled kids! The process was simple as we created our homeschool transcript and filled out the college application. Our plan is for our home-schooled students to graduate high school while also earning their college degree.)
So even though we may be considered veteran homeschoolers, I still consider myself quite green in certain areas. As the “teacher”, there are always things to be researching and learning, ways to improve, and new things to try. But one of the best parts of homeschooling is that I typically get to experience all of this with my kids.
9 Tips On How To Homeschool Successfully
1:) Add At Least A Little Bit Of Structure – Daily Schedules
This one took us several years to find what works best for our family. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that we have the freedom to experiment, create our own homeschool schedule, and even throw that schedule out the window if we need to.
Overall though, I’ve found that when the kids know what I expect out of them each day, things flow much more smoothly. In the past, I’ve created a school white board where I list what the kids need to do. Having this visual can be very helpful for many children (and adults).
This may seem like long list but you’d be surprised at how quickly things get done.
PRO TIP: When the kids were younger, we would reward them for accomplishing all their tasks for the day. Once completed I’d check things over and give a tally mark. After 5 days where the full days tasks are met, we would reward the child with $1. (We did this instead of a weekly allowance. It motivated them to get their work done without me having to bug them!) This worked amazingly for a couple years when I needed an easy way to motivate.
2:) Make It Fun
We do have subjects, workbooks, assignments, etc. but we do not have to always sit in a desk with me up front teaching/talking for most of our day. We work through what needs to be covered but I take cues from the kids. If they are getting bored, we may switch up what we’re doing. Gorgeous day out? Then we pick up and take our work outdoors. If someone is confused about a lesson, I look for a way to have a hands on experiment to demonstrate. I can plan things according to each child’s interests!
3:) Stay Home (Sort Of):
I’m not saying you need to stay home ALL the time! But honestly, I’ve found we do need to have some structure and stability in our schedule to be successful with our home learning. My goal is to get our kids ready for the ‘real world’. That includes time at home to do lessons, read, write, cook, bake, learn car maintenance, and work on a variety of other things.
4:) Dedicated School Time And An Encouraging Work Space
Our family is actually a bit flexible on this too. We’ve learned over the years that it’s best to get up and get started first thing in the morning. Our two oldest kids typically start working their way through their schoolwork by 8am at the latest. If they stay on task, they can be done within 2-4 hours most days!
The younger three homeschooled kids are in grades 2, 5, and 7. Their homeschooling time takes about 1 hour for the youngest and closer to 2 hours for the older two.
Once the kids have completed their work for the day, they are able to play games, free play, explore, or do whatever else interests them. This is a huge motivator because if they get their school done quickly and efficiently, they have the entire day ahead of them!
Our Homeschool Space
To help our kids stay on task better, we have created a dedicated space for homeschooling. Even if they don’t always stay in our homeschool room when doing school work; this area gives all our homeschool curriculum and supplies a ‘home’. Part of this space includes a desk for each child, an Ergonomic Study Chair for Kids, some posters, and other learning tools.
The study chair features versatile construction that lets you adjust the seat height from 12.7” to 18.25” and the backrest height from 28.57” to 36.11” to accommodate most children, and even some small-frame adults, in achieving the most ergonomic seated position. This helps the kids have good posture while working and keeps the slouching at bay.
One thing I love about Flexispot is that they have a commitment to fair trade and also donate items to those in need. You can learn more about their corporate responsibility and programs here.
Take note, before we had a homeschool space, we used our kitchen and dining room. (So if you don’t have room in your home for a homeschool area, don’t fret. It’s not a necessity, just a nice bonus to have.)
5:) Use Games To Learn
The beauty of homeschooling is that it (shouldn’t) take all day. By saving 3-6 hours of time that would be spent in public school, kids can learn even more through play.
Our kids play games daily. We have a big game closet full of games. I like to utilize games as educational materials to build skills. Without even realizing it, the kids are working on team work, competitive play, good sportsmanship, math, critical thinking, and more as they play!
6:) Utilize Your Local Library
Public schooled kids are typically given just 20-30 minutes each week in the school library. I know many homeschool families who spend hours each week at their local public library.
Having the freedom of these visits gives kids time to find books of interest. Plus, our local library has chess, checkers, toys, magazines, and computers for visitors to use. The kids really look forward to our local library visits and have even built relationships with the librarians because of our frequent trips there. Library trips are also a great time to meet up with other local homeschoolers for a play date.
7:) Plan Some Field Trips
Field trips are so much fun and definitely great educational opportunities for homeschool families to take advantage of. Our kids have learned so much through field trips. Ask around your local community for ideas. We’ve done a variety of learning trips including: Police Station, Bakery, Dentist, Zoo, History Museum, Children’s Museum, Grocery Store, and more. Most offer free or discounted prices for homeschool groups and families!
8:) Join A Co-Op
It truly takes a village, so finding a co-op is a huge tool in helping our family have a successful year of homeschooling. We’ve been a part of several homeschool co-ops over the years and have found most to be very beneficial. They allow kids to experience a group setting learning environment where they also get to learn from other parents or adults teaching each time. Some of the classes and opportunities we’ve taken advantage of with our local homeschooling group include:
- Language Arts Classes
- Physical Education Classes
- Social Studies Classes
- Art Classes
- Outdoor Skills Classes
- Science Experiments
- Parachute Fun
- LEGO Building
- & More
***A homeschool co-op is also a great way to get a group together for a field trip.
9:) Give Yourself Grace
Homeschooling is a journey. Just know that you will have good days and bad. Give yourself and your children grace, extra if you are a new homeschooling parent. There are so many amazing benefits to homeschooling. I wish everyone had the opportunity to give it a try and see their family blossom. Watching our kids grow up to be best friends is one of the most amazing things ever. We get to spend our days together and if we’re having a really hard day, we can scrap the schooling and start new tomorrow. Flexibility and freedom go hand in hand with homeschooling and we love it.
How Can I Help?
So tell me, do you homeschool? Or have you been considering it? If you have any questions, thoughts, or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below. I’d be happy to answer and share what I can to help as I love to hear when families have a successful year of homeschooling! The most important thing in your homeschooling journey is to find what works best for your family and each child.
Check out our 10 tips for the brand new homeschooling family for even more great ideas on how to successfully homeschool. You may also be interested in our practical tips and resources for homeschooling the preschool years and our One Minute Reader Review as it’s a great option for struggling readers.