Homeschooling Tips For First Time Homeschooling Parents
Updated: Aug 27, 2020
Do you consider yourself a beginner in this whole “homeschooling thing?” Are you asking yourself if homeschooling is right for your family? Are you struggling to get organized, create a schedule, find a curriculum, determine student pacing, and create a fun and enriching learning environment for your child?
Read on and for some ideas that may help you as you embark on this new adventure!
Choosing to take your child out of school and homeschool is a huge decision. It can seem both scary and exciting. Here are some pros and cons of homeschooling.
Parents and students have more control over student learning
There can be much more continuity and consistency over the years
The instruction and activities are much more individualized
You are both parent and educator
Things rarely go as planned (and planning can take so much time!)
Negative Emotions can arise in either parent or child when things are difficult
A bigger effort is required to give your child social opportunities
As a homeschool parent, it may seem overwhelming to sort through all the different options for a homeschooling curriculum. It can be helpful to become a part of homeschool groups on Facebook and in-person groups within your community, to collaborate with parents about the topic. Feel free to join our Homeschool Facebook Group for Free curriculum as well as a chance to connect with homeschool parents from all over!
Here are a few things to consider as you choose a curriculum:
What is my teaching style and what is my child’s learning style?
What are the MOST important things I need to see in my curriculum?
What are my options?
What is my budget?
How To Make It Legal
Requirements for homeschool parents vary from state to state, especially with new regulations due to COVID 19. This Interactive Map gives an outline of guidelines and rules within each state (under normal circumstances). Calling your local school district office or even local school can also be a good starting place if more clarification is needed.
Remember that homeschooling is more efficient than learning in a large group, you probably will not need to spend more than 3 or 4 hours doing schoolwork each day. Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating a schedule:
Allow for flexibility for unusual things that may come up each day
Include a large variety of activities and rotate through activities
Integrate learning into everyday, real-world tasks
Make adjustments to your schedule as you go, so it fits with your family’s changing needs
First of all, remember that assessment only measures that which is quantifiable, and in education, some of the most important things aren’t measured by a test (student motivation, perseverance/work ethic, kindness, creativity, etc.)! Testing has many drawbacks (Read more about that HERE), and as a homeschool parent, it doesn’t need to be the focus of your education.
However, there are very valuable things that can be learned from an accurate test. Here are a few ideas to have informed instruction in homeschooling environments (for more information check out our Assessment blog HERE):
Purchase a curriculum that provides a pacing guide and standard-based practice at your child’s grade level
Implement simple routines that allow students to practice fundamental skills like phonics, fluency, reading comprehension, math facts, word problems, and more.
Give a state standard practice test at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year to ensure your student is on grade level.
Use a diagnostic test to determine learning gaps for your child and then start from where they are, not from what grade level they’re in (you can use an online program like a prodigy to get a diagnostic test for math skills and then determine their reading level using an online program too. Give a phonics screener or determine a child’s reading fluency using the one-minute reading test).
Again, don’t forget the power you have as a homeschool parent to create the best set up for your child. Children who attend public school are sitting for 3 to 4 hours a day, rushing through lunch, mainly associating with kids who are the same age as them and the same socioeconomic class, and sometimes subjected to group punishments, and even bullying.
As a homeschool parent, it will be even more natural for you to be a role model and mentor for your child. You can set up co-op groups where your child can learn with kids their age (or older and younger children as well). You can sign your child up for activities (sports clubs, classes to develop hobbies, church functions) so your child can be around students the same age as them who also share similar interests, and you can volunteer with your child in your community so that they can socialize with people of different ages, cultures, and backgrounds. This is more similar to the real-world workplace than if a student only spends time with kids of a similar age to them.
Homeschooling is a wonderful opportunity to grow and learn with your child! Creating a learning environment that is open-ended, student lead, and individualized is within reach! Comment below with questions you have about homeschooling or experiences that have worked for you!
Or join our facebook group, become a part of a community of homeschool families from around the world AND get free curriculum too!