I’m going into my fifth year homeschooling, and while that doesn’t necessarily make me an expert, I’ve learned A LOT, and I’m going to share my top 8 tips for all of you new homeschoolers! These tips are also great to keep in mind for those of us established homeschoolers who may be struggling with feelings of inadequacies now and again. Here we go!
What works for one family may not work for you, and that is totally ok! We’re talking apples and oranges here. There are going to be so many other homeschooling families out there who are doing more than you. But, rest assured, there will be so many doing less than you as well. You can trim down your school day to just the basics, and your kids will still thrive! Do what works for you, your family and your child(ren) and their needs. It is not about anyone else.
Do what works best for YOU
Think about what you want your day to look like. Do you want to read a lot with your kids? Or would you rather work through workbooks together? Do you want to be out in nature? Or maybe attend workshops or classes or have your children work on the computer? Would you prefer to let your child lead the way with their interests and dive in and support them? Decide what you think will be a good fit for your family, and the day you envision for yourself, and go for it! Don’t forget, you can always adjust if it doesn’t work as well as you thought!
Take a day off when you need it!
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT! There are going to be many days throughout your homeschool journey where school is just not going to flow. And that. is. OK! Take a day off! Spend time just reading with your kids or have a park day. Let them watch TV all day (yup, I went there!) or read their own books. It’s not all about curriculum and notable progress each day. If you need a day to decompress, take it and don’t feel bad about it.
Make time for yourself
Schedule some “me time” in your week. Plan it out with your partner/family and make it happen. Your kids will be like little barnacles suctioned to your side for most of the week. Make sure to take some time to go out shopping, read a book, take a nap, get your hair done, take a bath, call a friend or whatever it is that relaxes you.
Set yourself up for success
Prepare ahead so that you can be ready to have a productive day. In my house this looks like, making sure the house is clean (at minimum the kitchen and table) so that we can start our day off ready to get into our schoolwork. When I wake up to a messy kitchen with dishes that still need to be done and/or a cluttered table, I’m starting my day with a setback. I’m still catching up from the day before. Finish your day, so that tomorrow you’re ready to start fresh. This could also look like taking ten minutes to organize/look over all of your materials for the next day.
Try it family style
Wherever possible, try to teach your subjects family style. In our home, I teach Language Arts and Math at their own individual levels. Everything else is “family style”. We learn science, social studies, history, and art as a family and I will adapt as needed for different ages. Add more for the older kids and tailor activities to meet the limitations of the younger ones.
Don’t worry about finding the “perfect” curriculum right now
If you really want a purchased curriculum, if budget allows, and you see something you like, go for it. But my best advice, that I would take in a heartbeat if I could go back, is to just take the first year and try out a few different things. Get some cheap workbooks, play games, read to your kids. Get a feel for what your kids gravitate towards and pay attention to when they are enjoying learning and when they are soaking up the most. After a while of this, you will be much better equipped to search for a curriculum that works specifically for your child.
Don’t worry about a homeschool room yet
Don’t worry about getting a homeschool space set up right away or about buying all. the. things. Take time to feel it out! Time will tell you what your family’s natural tendencies are. No matter how many homeschool rooms I’ve pinned on Pinterest, it just isn’t the best fit for our family right now. For some people it works great. But before you spend your life savings trying to set it up, it may be helpful to see how your kids like to work. My oldest prefers to go into his bedroom with his independent work so that it’s quiet. We do most everything else together in our main living areas so I can tend to the little ones and switch a load of laundry over or whatever else during our learning time.
If you are sure you want a homeschool room and you have the space, set it up, but don’t buy a bunch of stuff you may not even find yourself using. There are lots of pretty things, but a lot of them will go untouched. Speaking from experience.
Homeschooling is an individual journey! While it can be so helpful connecting with others through social media and in person, it’s important to remember that we all have different life circumstances and needs, not to mention learning speeds and styles. I hope these tips are helpful to you as you begin or continue on your journey!