So, you’re about to homeschool your child. Where do you start?!
Maybe you’ve just decided to start homeschooling after your child has experienced a rough time at school (or maybe you’ve not had much of choice in the matter, but that’s another story!). Maybe you’ve always wanted to homeschool your child. Maybe the global pandemic has made you put things into perspective and affected your decision to homeschool.
Whatever your reason for homeschooling, I want to wish you well on your homeschooling journey.
Because it is just that, a journey.
Much like a long car journey, there will be bumps in the road. There will be days where you have no idea which direction you’re heading. You will need a lot of snacks, and there will be times when you run out of fuel!
But there will also be plenty of nice views on the hi hi journey, and a lot of sunshine. You can choose to take the scenic route, and visit the places your child truly loves! Your adventure has only just begun.
Where do I start with homeschooling?
Firstly, take a minute to just breathe, and remember you can do this! I’m going to remind you why you already know where to start.
Use your children’s interests. What teacher knows your child quite as well as you do? You are in the fantastic position that you know what your child is keen on (and less keen on!), which makes thinking of interesting teaching ideas that bit easier. Have a child who loves Pokémon? Why not use the numbers on Pokémon cards to learn about addition or multiplication?
Use your family’s natural schedule. You know how your family functions: maybe you’re all morning people who rise with the sun, or maybe you learn better after doing some exercise. Maybe you function better after a lie in. Maybe you have more time on the weekend rather than on a Monday. Whatever your natural rhythm is, embrace it, and work to suit it. It will make things easier to stick to in the long run, and more enjoyable for you and your child. Nobody ever said that homeschooling had to mimic the Monday – Friday school routine, so be bold and do what suits you!
Use your surroundings. You are not a school, and it is likely to cause you more stress to try and emulate one than to embrace your own environment. Use the things you have in your home to support your learning, but also go out and explore your local environment – these things will feel natural and relevant to your child. You don’t need a whiteboard and a desk to learn!
Be open to change. Because you will change your mind. A lot! You will change tactics and approaches, and you will just get comfortable with a certain way and then something will happen which means you have to start again. Change is good for the most part, and helps things to avoid getting stagnant.
Prepare yourself for A LOT of questions. You may think I mean from your kids, and they certainly will ask a lot of questions. However, I’m talking about the adults around you, both familiar and unfamiliar. Somehow, everyone seems to have an opinion on homeschooling (‘but what about socialising?!’), and unfortunately it’s rarely positive. Grow a thick skin and be confident in your choices, as at the end of the day it is nobody else’s business but yours and your family’s.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Homeschooling can be HARD! There are plenty of homeschooling communities online and offline, so there is always someone nearby to reach out to. (For more advice on why your child might be displaying difficult behaviour or how to stay calm during difficult moments, check out my other articles)
Homeschooling resources which help
Remember, you can use stuff you already have around you to start your journey, and you don’t really need anything special (other than enthusiasm for the journey!). However, there are a few things that may help you get started:
Pencils, pens, and paper. Ok, so you’re probably going to need writing tools. Basic pencils, pens and paper are great to begin with, but I’d highly recommend moving towards more interesting and engaging resources if your budget allows, such as scented gel pens, a cute notebook, or a cool sketch book. This will help your child be motivated and engaged with their learning.
Books. If you don’t have a lot of space or finances are an issue, I highly recommend visiting your local library. The importance of reading cannot be understated – it can make a huge difference to your child’s education! Try to offer a mix of books to support your child’s independent reading, such as phonics practice books, picturebooks, and books which are too advanced for your child to read themselves which you can read to them, such as novels.
Devices for research. As much as I love a good, old fashioned book for research, you cannot deny we live in the age of technology. Your child will learn many educational skills by knowing how and where to find information. By having something which children can safely practice their research skills, such as an Amazon Echo, a tablet, or a smart tv, you will enable your child to access a world of knowledge. Just remember to check your parental settings carefully.
Printer. This is not a necessity, but for those less than exciting times when you need to print worksheets, you might be grateful for one.
Camera. A camera is a good way to document your homeschooling journey, without too much effort.
If you take anything from this article, remember these key points:
* You know your child and your family situation better that anyone else, and you know how to teach your child (even though you’ll almost certainly doubt your capabilities at numerous points!)
*You have the resources you need to start already – never underestimate the importance of enthusiasm, love and patience as key elements to effective home schooling.
*You will take time to find our feet, and you will go through many changes on your way. There will be good days and bad days!
I really hope these tips help you feel more confident to start your home schooling adventure. Let me know how you get on in the comments below, and please share your top tips too.
Love, Heather x
PS Check out my other articles about learning at home, including activity ideas and hobby ideas, how to encourage your child to want to learn and read, and playful ways to teach your child to count, amongst much more.