So I thought today I would impart some of my vast wisdom (she says with sarcasm) on our beginner homeschoolers. Maybe you are just considering homeschooling? Here are my top 15 homeschool tips for beginners. Some of these I was smart enough to do, others not so much. Learn from my mistakes!
1). Find a Mentor!!!
Yes, that is a lot of exclamation points, but this is a big one. Find a veteran homeschooler and latch on to them! This is one piece of advice that I actually used from the beginning. I won’t lie, my mentor was probably ready to jump off a cliff by the time I settled in. There are actually times now that I will still call her. Take advantage of those who have walked the path before you.
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2). Join a Group
Now please do not join a group if you don’t plan on committing to said group. However, a homeschool group can serve a couple of purposes. First, it shows your kiddo that they are not the only homeschooled kid in the world. Second, it shows you that you are not the only homeschool mom in the world! You can gain a wealth of information from these ladies. A group can be a place to socialize as well as take advantage of cool activities that are not offered to an individual. Our group offers field trips, science/social studies fairs, awards day, graduation, testing & portfolio services, & guest speakers. This is all on top of our regular sessions of gym & class.
3). Expect Some Hiccups
This is a big one. Forget perfection. I don’t care how long you spend on Pinterest and YouTube. Nothing ever goes according to plan, and homeschooling is no different. Go in expecting that things will NOT always go according to your plan.
4). It’s Okay to Skip
No, I’m not talking about the whole subject of math here. Man, I wish! I mean if little Jill knows how to write her name is it really beneficial for her to do it 50 times in one day? Probably not. My point is that it doesn’t have to be done just because it is listed in the curriculum. Sometimes it’s okay not to check every box. Know what you need to cover and move beyond the rest. Busy work isn’t a requirement to homeschool.
5). Don’t Be a Public School
When I started our room was decked to the max. We had name tags on the desks, and colorful posters on the wall. Everyone had their own workstation with color-coded pencil boxes. Now my youngest has decided she likes to do school in the closet. Oh yes, we still have our room, mainly because we have tons of junk to store in there. They can use it or they can go into the closet. It matters not to me. Remember just because you homeschool doesn’t mean you have to look like the “real” school at home. Let everyone find their groove.
6). Embrace Change
Sometimes you just have to know when to throw in the towel. Even if that particular towel has been thrown in three times and you have spent a small fortune on math curriculum. Know when something isn’t working and move on.
7). Fun is Okay Too
When I started homeschooling everything was a lesson. We did math in the grocery store, community helpers at the bank, and vacation was always a “learning experience.” While it is true that life is a learning adventure, you do not have to study sand animals while at the beach. (Oh yes, I did it) Sometimes it’s okay to just build a sand castle.
8). TAKE SOME MOM TIME
Okay, did you see I yelled that one? That’s because this is the one we often forget. We are with these kiddos 24/7, and it’s okay if we want a break. See that Mom’s Night Out being advertised? If you feel motivated to actually get cleaned up, take that opportunity. Need a 10-minute break? Take it! If you have to turn on a 30 minute TV program it will not kill them. You have to have time too.
(Related Reading: Rediscovering yourself as a homeschool mom)
9). Know Your Style
This one has always been my downfall. I want to be a Charlotte Mason, unit study, crafty mom. Truth is, I’m not. I have spent years (and lots of $$) trying to be a type that I am not. At the end of the day, I feel insecure without worksheets in the core subjects. Can I do fun things on the side? Yes! This will never be my “core” curriculum though, no matter how much I want it to be. I’m finally okay with that.
10). Know Your Child’s Style
Just like you have your own style, your child does as well. The trick is finding the happy place in the middle. I have one child who can read and understand anything I throw at her. My other child has to hear, or watch, to learn. I don’t believe learning styles are exclusive though. I believe my children learn best from a variety of styles, even if they are stronger in some and weaker in others.
11). Be sure that “can’t” really isn’t “won’t”
This is a BIGGIE at our house, and it has taken me YEARS to figure it out. My oldest child really struggles with math. I have changed math curriculum constantly, thinking it just “wasn’t working” for her. Truthfully, she is lazy when it comes to math. She does need a curriculum that constantly focuses on review. Other than that I have probably wasted a ton of time and money on the changes. It is a subject she struggles with, so she despises it. Be sure that the problem isn’t a lack of effort on your child’s part BEFORE you blame it on the curriculum.
12). You don’t have to know everything
This is the #1 comment I hear from people who don’t homeschool yet. “There’s no way I could do that. I don’t know enough.” Let me tell you a secret…….I don’t either! It’s been YEARS since I have taken algebra. That’s what the curriculum is for! There are many ways for your student to learn. We are increasingly blessed as modern homeschool moms because we have the internet at our fingertips. You will learn that this is the smallest problem in homeschooling.
13). Review is important
This is another area that caused me problems early on. I neglected to review as often as I should. My daughter that struggles with math needs constant math fact review. My struggling reader has to constantly review sight words. At our house we have a very brief “homework” time in the evening. This is just about 10-15 minutes after dinner that we use to go over flash cards for both girls. Review, Review, Review…..It will save you time later.
14). It won’t all be fun
**Sigh….This is a reality. It can’t all be fun and games. There are going to be some days that are just boring. If you try to make every second, of every day, into over the top excitement you are going to be left with an exhausted mom, as well as a child that has unrealistic expectations of life. The truth is some things are just work. It may not be fun, but it has to be done.
15). Be flexible
Inevitably things will come up. There are times where someone is sick, or where an unexpected appointment comes up in the middle of the week. Sometimes a child may have to take a concept slower than you originally anticipated, or you may find that your curriculum needs changed in the middle of February. Your homeschool will not always go according to plan. Please go in anticipating this so you are not tempted to go into shock when things derail a little. Eventually you will figure it all out and get back on track.
So there you go…..Those are my 15 homeschool tips for beginners! Remember the same things never work for everyone, but hopefully these will help you out at least a little. If you are a veteran homeschooler reading this what tricks & tips would you offer a new homeschooling mom?