Homeschooling is an excellent alternative method to educate your child or children. It allows you to spend more time with your kids, and to structure their classes to suit their temperaments. This is a list of ten useful tips for homeschoolers or people thinking of taking it up.
1. Know the laws in your place of residence
This one is particularly important since laws regarding schooling can vary from state to state, and country to country. Do some research before you start and find out what is required and what isn’t. Some places require meticulous record keeping and others only require the student to be evaluated regularly. Make life easier on yourself and just find out.
2. Talk to your children
While the decision to home school ultimately rests with you as a parent, it is always a good idea to discuss it with your children. Let them know why you are thinking about it and what benefit you think it will have. Listen to any concerns that they may have and discuss solutions and strategies. If a child is adamantly opposed to homeschooling, it may not be a good idea to attempt it. Homeschooling really works best when everyone is working together.
3. Frequently use a library card
This one should go without saying. A library card is like a treasure chest. I have heard it said that in the beginning a child learns to read. After that they read to learn. Encourage a love of learning. Visit the library often. Encourage your child to pick out many different kinds of books. Take advantage of the resources available to you as well; there are books specifically written for home schoolers that would cost hundreds of dollars to buy.
4. Have an internet connection
This is a tremendous tool. There are so many websites and groups dedicated to education in general and homeschooling in particular. There are places with printable activities, curriculums about specific topics, forums with other home schoolers, and so much more. Just trust me, have an internet connection and use it. Oh – and don’t forget to include The List Universe 101 in your curriculum.
5. Extra curricular activities
Socialization can be one of the biggest problems when it comes to homeschooling. The concern is that if a child is not in class room with other children, they might have a difficult time relating to their peers. This is easily solved! Get your child involved in group activities of another sort: sports, martial arts, clubs, play groups, or anything that gets them around other children on a regular basis.
6. Find other home schoolers in your area
Other home schoolers can be a wealth of information and support. They will have often tried various curriculums and methods and can give feedback on what did and didn’t work for them and why. They might even have an old unused or reusable curriculum laying around. If you can’t find any near you, which is possible, look for other home schoolers online.
7. Be realistic about time and effort
Homeschooling is both labor and time intensive – especially with a younger student that needs more supervision and guidance, and even more so when you are teaching more than one child. This is not to say that it is difficult, just that it requires discipline. It will take several hours a day and a certain amount of organizational skills. I am not saying that it is the most difficult thing in the world, it really isn’t, just don’t fool yourself into expecting everything to be perfect and easy.
8. Explore your options
Some parents are more comfortable with a set curriculum, others prefer to have a less structured style. Think about your strengths and weaknesses and what you want to achieve with homeschooling. If it is legal in your country, you can even find the old classical curriculums online that were taught in schools many years ago – there is nothing wrong with learning a bit of Latin or Greek at a young age.
9. Be willing to be flexible
Like any decision that one makes regarding their children nothing goes quite the way you expect it to. You may start with a strict curriculum and decide that it is not allowing your children to progress at their own pace, slowing them down in some areas or leaving them behind in others. Alternately you may find that you need more structure if you find that you aren’t getting things done or you have no idea what you are supposed to be teaching for your child’s age group. Just be flexible and willing to make whatever changes it takes to make it work for your family. Understand that most children will excel in a subject or two and have more difficulties in others. If your child takes to reading and science like a fish to water but math leaves them cold, allow them to move through at their own pace. Let them push through the good stuff as fast as they like, and make the time to focus with them on areas that are difficult. This is one of the most beneficial aspects of homeschooling. You don’t have a classroom to keep up with or hold back with. Take advantage of it. Also, be willing to admit if it just isn’t working for you. It’s not the end of the world if you can not make homeschooling work for your family. Bear in mind that you can still be very involved in your child’s learning process, just in a different way.
10. Have patience
Finally, patience is essential. Be patient with yourself and your child. There are going to be days when everything goes splendidly, and others when it seems like nothing is working. Trying to plod along on a bad day is often completely counterproductive. Take a breather and come back relaxed. Don’t expect everything to go perfectly. Just take a deep breath and work through the issues as they come up.