You may not know this about me, but I am a homeschool mom. I’ve been homeschooling my children for seven years now– from middle school to high school and now elementary school! It’s been quite a journey these last seven years and I have learned so much about home education. So I thought I’d share a few homeschool tips for beginners or if you’re just temporarily homeschooling.
HOW WE STARTED HOMESCHOOLING
Long story short, our homeschooling journey started in July 2013 when my older two children were still in public school. My daughter Michala was having education challenges and we weren’t getting the help we needed for her from the school. After two years of trying to work with the school system, we decided to try homeschooling.
At this time, Michala was in 5th grade and Elijah (our oldest son) was in 7th grade. Before we made the decision to homeschool, Travis and I spent months researching homeschooling and meeting with other homeschool parents in our town. Taking time to learn more about homeschooling and engaging with other homeschool families helped us out tremendously!
I hope the homeschool tips I share with you today will also help you with your homeschool journey!
7 HOMESCHOOL TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
1. FIND A ROUTINE THAT IS COMFORTABLE FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.
Whether you’re choosing to homeschool full-time or you’re homeschooling just temporarily, finding a routine that works best for you and your family is key. You don’t have to follow a traditional public school routine, but if you want to, that’s okay!
Are you and the kids early birds? Then create a traditional routine where you’re starting school in the morning and wrapping things up in the early afternoon.
Do you prefer to start your day around 11ish (like I do)? Then let the kids sleep past 8 A.M. and start your homeschool day after the morning time. When we first started homeschooling, the kids and I made a decision to start our homeschool day after 11 A.M. because we discovered we felt more alert and well-rested.
BONUS HOMESCHOOL TIPS:
You don’t have to do school the traditional schedule of Monday through Friday. You can take Fridays off if you want or take a different weekday off and do school on Saturdays, for instance.
I know some parents who like to take a weekday off from homeschool and do school on Saturdays because that’s when their spouse is off from work. It gives their partner the chance to do school with the kids, too. Remember– homeschooling is all about creating a routine that is beneficial for the whole family.
2. GIVE YOUR KIDS TIME TO PLAY AND CREATE.
I’m a strong believer in kids learn through play. I feel when we greatly reduce or take away our children’s playtime, it causes great stress for them. Just because your child is playing, doesn’t mean the learning stops.
HERE’S AN EXAMPLE OF LEARNING THROUGH PLAY:
When kids play dress-up or dramatic play, they are also learning how to communicate and make connections from their daily lives. Another benefit to giving children time to play is it encourages relationship building.
“Children who play with their parents and peers learn how relationships work through their play experiences.”(Center for Parenting Education)
ALSO, LET YOUR CHILDREN HAVE TIME TO CREATE! whether it’s creating art, playing a musical instrument, dancing, or writing, Creativity has many great benefits for kids.
When children are encouraged to create, it helps with the development of their motor skills, developing cultural awareness, and establishing a love for the arts. Creating art or music also helps children with their emotional and mental health.
3. HOUSE DUTIES ARE VERY VALUABLE LEARNING EXPERIENCES.
I’ve seen many memes making jokes about, “Today for school we’re doing laundry!” It’s kinda funny, but in reality, teaching your kids how to clean their room, take out the trash, wash dishes, and do the laundry is a very important life skill.
For my teens, I included in their school schedule daily chores. Travis and I both felt it was important they knew how to do routine life skills because (1) it teaches them responsibility and (2) they will know how to these things when they are out on their own.
For younger children, you can start out with light chores like cleaning the kitchen table before each meal, helping with cleaning/organizing toys, making their bed daily, and helping with sorting laundry. A great way to keep young children engaged with the mundane tasks of house chores is play their favorite kids’ songs or turn it into a fun game.
BONUS HOMESCHOOL TIPS:
You can count cooking lessons as homeschool, too! Teach your kids how to make an easy recipe like homemade chicken noodle soup or a yummy dessert like cupcakes. Cooking involves reading (the recipe) and basic math skills (addition and measurement).
Plus, it’s a great way to bond with your children and create special memories. Our little ones love cooking and will ask us often if they can help cook. Michala discovered her love for baking desserts after we did a cooking lesson together.
4. CARVE OUT TIME FOR READ ALOUDS AND INDEPENDENT READING.
First, what are “read alouds”? This is when you the parent read short stories or chapter books to your children. My kids love it when we read to them and act out the characters in the story. And when I read just one book to them, they’ll often ask me to read 3 more books because they love it so much!
“Reading also strengthens children’s social, emotional, and character development. According to a recently published study, reading to very young children is linked to decreased levels of aggression, hyperactivity, and attention difficulties.”Deborah Farmer Kris— writer, teacher, parent educator, and school administrator
BONUS HOMESCHOOL TIPS:
For older children and teens, encourage them to designate time for independent reading. Keep independent reading time separate from assigned readings.
Let your preteen/teen choose the books he wants to read and don’t assign any lesson work to go along with it. This will give them the freedom to explore literature genres on their own and develop a love for reading.
RELATED: 54 MUST-READ AFRICAN AMERICAN BOOKS
5. USE ONLINE LEARNING WEBSITES FOR SUPPLEMENTAL EDUCATION ACTIVITIES.
One online learning site we use is Time4Learning (T4L). It’s a homeschool-friendly education program for preschool to 12th grade. It features a full curriculum for each grade level and you can pick and choose which lessons you want your child to learn.
T4L is also a great site for kids who are in public school. You can use it for extra learning practice on any subject material your child needs, such as math or science.
Another online learning site I recommend is IXL. I like to think of it as an online workbook because it features interactive educational activities for Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Spanish. IXL tracks your child’s progress and you can look over the analytics of their work. Another pro to IXL is it explains the correct answer to a question or math problem if the student gets it wrong.
A FEW OTHER ONLINE LEARNING WEBSITES I RECOMMEND:
BONUS HOMESCHOOL TIPS:
Don’t solely rely on online learning sites to teach your child. Use the sites in conjunction with your teaching. This will also help limit the amount of screen time your child is getting.
Also, make sure you are keeping up with the lessons your child is learning online. Sometimes the online sites will have a mistake in the information or your child may need help understanding a concept the program is teaching.
6. GET OUTSIDE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!
This tip is especially important on those really nice days when the weather is comfortably warm and the sun is shining. Trust me– both you and the kids will not want to be cooped up indoors on the good weather days.
Whether it’s taking time to play in the yard or at a local park, there are many outdoor activities you can do outside with your kids. From going on nature walks to riding bikes, getting outside will make everyone feel happier and it’s also great exercise.
You can also teach the kids’ school lessons outside or have them work on independent assignments while outdoors.
7. TAKE BREAKS WHEN YOU NEED IT.
It’s absolutely okay to take a break from school when you or your child need it. It can be a scheduled break or just a spur of the moment. When I do our semester school planning, I make sure to include time off for birthdays, holidays, Spring Break, summertime, and other special occasions.
Sometimes we have days when we just don’t feel like doing lessons or we want to get out of the house and do something fun. We like to go to the museum or go see a movie. Or we just stay home and relax! That’s okay, too.
Not everyday will function the same. You may have a few days where everything goes smoothly and then unexpectedly you may have a challenging day.
Maybe you or one of the kids don’t feel well or a life event suddenly came up. Life happens and the beauty of homeschooling is you can adjust your school schedule to take time off or take care of business.
When you begin your homeschool journey, it can be overwhelming at first. Once you find your rhythm and a homeschool style that works best for your children, things will start to fall into place.
If you’re temporarily homeschooling, then you may feel even more intimated with at-home learning. I think the most important thing to remember is to take your time and follow your child’s pace. Also, reach out to your child’s teacher when you have questions or need additional support.
Remember, you don’t have to do ALL THE TINGS. What I mean by that is to try your best not to fall into a trap of feeling like you have to teach every single lesson.
And definitely DO NOT compare your homeschool style to another family’s homeschool style. Every family home educates differently.
GIVE YOURSELF GRACE!
Don’t worry, Mom and Dad! You got this!