So you’re probably here because you’re considering homeschooling your kids, but I’m sure the question on your mind is, “Where do I even begin?”
I had the same issue when I first started homeschooling. Luckily I had a few friends that were already deep in the trenches to guide me along my path. Maybe you do as well, or perhaps you don’t, but no worries, as I’ve got your back.
Here are my tips to help you along your journey.
Allow time for deschooling
Deschooling is an integral part of your homeschool journey. Not only is it beneficial for your child, but it’s also essential for YOU to do.
Most of us have decided to homeschool because our children’s school system didn’t meet their needs, so why bring those standards and methods into our homes? Why have desks and schedules and rigid scope and sequences to keep up with those in traditional schools?
So take time to relax, not do school work, observe your child, connect with them, and release your beliefs on what school should look like, and instead dream about what it could look like without all of the restraints found in a traditional classroom.
To help you on your journey, check out these articles:
Take a deep dive and research
I know, I know. It’s so much easier to have someone tell you what to do, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed, but the reality is that educating your child is not a one-size-fits-all case.
That’s why I advocate taking a deep dive into the topic of homeschooling and do your research. Be well informed so you can make the best decisions for your child’s education.
Here’s a list of topics with links to help you begin your research:
- 10 Different Homeschooling Methods You Need to Know
- 4 Essential Teaching Methods: Which One is Right for You?
- Discover Your Child’s Learn Style
- 10 Must-Read Books for New Homeschoolers
Take a few days or even a few weeks to read, watch videos, listen to podcasts or audiobooks to become well-informed. It’s OK if your school year has already started before you finish or even begin!
And while you’re in research mode, check out this article: Lessons From a Homeschool Researcher.
Develop your homeschool guide
Your homeschool mission statement and vision are the cornerstone of your homeschool, so don’t skip this step.
Take a few days to reflect on why you chose to homeschool your children, and either on your own or with your partner, create a Homeschool Mission Statement to be displayed and referred to throughout the year.
Based on that mission statement, your next step is to develop a vision board or statement describing how you will homeschool your children. This will guide you in choosing a homeschooling method, daily routines and rhythms, curriculum, resources, activities, and more.
Create a general plan for the year
Having a general idea of what you want your children to accomplish helps guide your homeschooling, and working backward from the big picture to the small goals that will make it happen makes life simpler.
And with three kids, a family that lives far away, and a husband that’s always working, I’m all for simple and easy.
Remember, there’s no need to recreate school at home
It rarely ever works, and if you’ve read the interviews on this blog, you’ll notice a pattern.
Most of us have tried to recreate that one-room schoolhouse, sit at our desks, follow the detailed schedule, and do our work in a set amount of time routine with utter failure.
Home should be your children’s sanctuary, a place they want to be, especially if we’re going to foster a love of learning in them.
You don’t need to be inside to learn, you can do it without a textbook, and you, the parent, do not need to be all-knowing.
Start the year out slowly
At the beginning of the school year, everyone is excited, and you want to dive into all of the subjects you have carefully planned over the summer.
Maybe it’s great for the first week or so, but then soon enough, you all crash and burn and want to quit. Avoid that crash by easing your way into the school year.
Our first week of schooling usually involves a celebration of some sort. For us, that means a field trip, a lunch out at our favorite restaurant, and a fun dessert to commemorate the occasion.
Once you’ve celebrated the beginning of your school year, introduce one new subject a week to get your toes wet and ease everyone into homeschooling. By the end of a month, you should all be in your groove.
Develop a daily rhythm
I don’t know about you, but meeting a deadline by a specific time makes me STRESSED!
Now imagine trying to meet multiple deadlines within a day via a schedule packed with times and activities, and more. My anxiety level is already going up just thinking about it; now imagine how your kids feel.
So let’s throw the schedule out the window and instead focus on creating a homeschool routine. We all need structure in life, and routines are essential in creating a safe and stable home environment.
Our typical routine includes morning tech time, breakfast, Morning Basket, play outside, lunch, play outside, independent work, quiet time, play outside, dinner, evening tech time, and nighttime read-aloud.
Did you notice the lack of scheduled time frames? We also only school four days a week and rotate our subjects (see tip #6 for more.)
Rotate your subjects
There is no need to do every subject every day. That’s a lot of stuff that needs to be checked off from your to-do list, and it doesn’t allow for your kids to immerse themselves in a topic.
Instead, consider either looping and/or blocking the subjects.
For example, looping is where you create a list of subjects you’d like the kids to tackle, and whatever you don’t get to will roll over to the next day, becoming first on the to-do list. Blocking is where you choose a period of time to tackle a subject. It could be certain days or even a term.
We do a combination of both.
We study subjects in 4-6 weeks terms, alternating between history, science, music, and art. It gives us more time to take a deep dive into a topic.
With our independent work, we will loop the subjects. For example, my son may be consumed with writing his comic book, and I don’t want to ruin his mojo, so we’ll roll over whatever subjects he didn’t get to for the next day.
Drop the curriculum that doesn’t work
Suppose the curriculum you bought was highly recommended by friends and featured on all your favorite homeschooling Instagram pages but is making your child’s life miserable. In that case, it’s OK to drop it.
Homeschooling is trial and error, especially initially, and finding what fits your teaching style and your child’s learning style in a packaged curriculum will take time.
And sometimes you don’t want to take that time and the money to figure it out, so you’ll develop your curriculum (which is not hard to do!)
On top of that, your educational philosophy will evolve over the years. So what worked, in the beginning may not be suitable for further down the road. It’s OK to make changes and pivot, as one of my good friends likes to say.
Here’s a list of resources for you:
- Cathy Duffy Reviews
- How to Create Your Own Homeschool Curriculum
- Lazy Unit Study (I feel like these ladies are my kindred spirits)
Utilize the library
But if you must buy, I recommend finding what you need/want at your local bookstore, your homeschool co-op, or the Homeschool Curriculum Marketplace group on Facebook. Amazon and eBay are excellent choices as well, especially if you live in a rural setting.
Remember, homeschooling does not need to be expensive!
- Libraries Are a Homeschooler’s Best Friend
- How to Homeschool Using Only the Library
- Homeschool Curriculum Marketplace
Consider limiting technology
My kids get a good amount of screen time each day, but they are also very active. I think there’s a good case for teaching our kids balance, and sometimes that means we need to put limits on things like technology.
Get out of the house
Going outside is an excellent way of keeping the kids off the screen and your house clean. (Who here is tired of cleaning their house EVERY day?)
Not only do you and the kids get a break from being at home, but you get the psychological benefits of being in nature – reducing stress and promoting healing.
While you’re out, why not go on a field trip to the zoo, a botanical garden, a state or national park, or if you’re lucky and they’ve opened back up in your part of the world, to a museum.
- 1000 Hours Outside
- Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
- 101 Reasons to Take Your Homeschool Outside
- Benefits of field trips
- Field trip destinations by state
Take breaks, lots of them
Finally, one of the most critical aspects of homeschooling is rest. Without rest, there will be burnout. Without rest, there will be rivers of tears. Without rest, you cannot homeschool, let alone be a good parent.
Daily rest, weekly rest, and long-term rest are essential for both our mental and physical health. Plus, making time for rest will help teach your children about finding balance in life.
Xuan Klevecka is a Southern California-based homeschool mom, wife, and sometimes purveyor of vintage goods. She’s an Enneagram 5w7, a lover of good food, and a former middle school history teacher. You’ll either find her looking at road maps and daydreaming about her family’s next epic adventure or perusing recipes and cooking up a feast for the brood.