Home cooked meals, courses tailored to genuine personal interests, a guise of safety; it is no question what makes homeschooling such an appealing option. You love your children and you would do anything for them to prepare them for their future.
As wonderful as it sounds, homeschooling your child is not something to jump into lightly. Do you have the right temperament? Can you afford the necessary resources for your children’s coursework? Do you have the passion and follow through to continue taking control of their education? Keep reading to find out if you have what it takes to homeschool your child.
Do your research
No time is a bad time to start. Maybe your little one has never stepped foot in a public school; maybe it’s time for your little one to make their public school exit. Either way, research your options thoroughly. Read about homeschooling in books and magazines such as the popular Homeschooling Today. Reach out to other people who homeschool their children and educate yourself through their experiences. Also, be sure to determine your state’s homeschooling requirements as regulations vary by state. The more you know about how to homeschool, the better you can define why you want to homeschool your child, and the more easily you can plan for the experience ahead.
Join a homeschooling group
This is a great way to help you reach out to other homeschooling families in your area. Enter the group with an open mind, ask questions, and let yourself be receptive to suggestions and advice. Through groups, you can learn different teaching methods and find out how other families homeschool their children. Groups may also offer unique resources such as specialized, parent-run classes and information on opportunities for your children such as sports, tutoring, and clubs.
Decide on your homeschool curriculum
Parents often purchase a curriculum online; scholastic.com suggests Scholastic’s Teacher Store. There are a wide range of styles and methods to choose from, including traditional textbooks centralized around reading, writing, and mathematics.
You may wish to give your child a more individualized approach to learning. To do this, focus on your child’s interests and talents; try to build off of their pre-established skills and curiosities in an encouraging way built around teaching them values and important skills.
You know your kid better than anyone. Identify their weaknesses, and cater to their strengths. For example, is your child more of an independent learner, or do they thrive in group settings? Answers to questions like these will help you tailor your curriculum to help you find the most beneficial ways to homeschool your child.
Designate a space for homeschooling
It is important to separate your home space from your workspace as much as possible. Set up one or two areas which will serve as “the classroom.” This could be as simple as the kitchen table, or perhaps you want an entirely new space set up just for homeschool. Will the space be inside or outside? The possibilities are endless and the decisions are all up to you and your children.
Fill your space with the tools and furniture you need ahead of time. Some examples may be:
- Blackboards or whiteboards
- Schedules and calendars
- A computer with internet connection
- Bookshelves for textbooks and notebooks
- Baskets for loose supplies
Set specific goals
Why have you decided to homeschool your child? What do you want your child and your family to get out of this unique experience? Be thorough when considering these goals; academics are not the only aspect of a well-rounded education. Consider physical fitness, socialization, and extracurricular activities.
Try forming relationships with parents and families, both those that homeschool and those that do not. Take classes, join community clubs, frequent community centers, etc. The idea is to get your little ones out there, mingling with other little ones, and building skills outside of the homeschool classroom.
Make a homeschool schedule
This schedule should reflect and help you achieve the goals you identified above. Do not think of it as a strict rule-set but more of a pathway to follow and help you maintain organization. Create a rough, day-to-day and week-by-week schedule; be sure to leave room for flexibility.
This part should be fun, do not stress yourself out with minute details. Instead, focus on the broader picture. What subjects will you likely study, which days? Will you go on field trips during the course? Where will you go? You are going to change your schedule, that’s a fact. Enjoy the flexibility of a homeschool atmosphere, and remain open to adapting your schedule to your child’s shifting needs.
Be careful not to fall into common entanglements
Scholastic.com says, “There are three issues that often stymie beginners: feeling isolated, committing to a curriculum too early, and trying to learn everything about homeschooling right away.”
Let us address each of these individually.
- Feeling isolated: Above, we discussed joining homeschooling groups, community groups, clubs, and sports. We discussed meeting parents and families that do not homeschool as well. It is important to maintain a well-rounded support system and social group, both for the children and the parents. Interacting and bonding with like-minded individuals will help you feel more connected.
- Committing to a curriculum too early: Many pre-packaged curricula are very expensive. Do not invest in one before doing your research and experimenting with other packages. You want to be sure that whatever you buy fits your child’s learning style and your teaching style before you buy it.
There are free educational resources online. There are many to choose from and it can become overwhelming. Practice with a few, and just play with a couple of your favorites. These should not be considered free replacements for a curriculum. Though they can be used as a supplement to your packaged curriculum.
- Trying to learn everything about homeschooling right away: It is no secret that you cannot learn everything in one day. So remember to have patience and the willingness to accept the ebbs and flows of daily homeschooling life. This is a learning experience for the entire family.
Npr.org says “Be forgiving of yourself and your kid.” Transitioning to homeschool your child is a big change for everyone, especially for those kiddos who started out in public school. Give them compassion and understanding and do not forget to give yourself some as well. Use this time to focus on your child’s passions and utilize homeschooling as a tool to encourage them to pursue those further. Connect with each other, and build relationships within your community. Most of all, remember to have fun!
At Imagine Nation Learning Center, we take the responsibility of caring for your children very seriously. We also believe it should be fun! To learn more or to see our approach firsthand, contact us or stop by any of our locations.