10 Quick Tips for Homeschoolers
1.Forget About School at Home
What comes to mind when you hear the word “school?” Do you think of boredom, drudgery, and restriction? Don’t bring that home. Enjoy the flexibility of homeschooling. Let your kids wear what they want and learn where they’re most comfortable. Yes, the sofa is okay. Let your kids write papers on topics that interest them rather than whatever is on the list. Take breaks as you see fit and let your children have plenty of time to play.
2. Make Time for Your Family
This may seem to be a strange piece of advice. After all, the very term homeschooling sounds very family oriented, and it is. There is a but, however. You also need time to kick back, relax, and just have fun, without having an educational goal in mind, an errand to run, or an activity to drive to. One good way to do this is by planning a family night. This may mean cooking together, playing board games, building something, or anything that you will all enjoy. If you’re married, don’t forget to plan a regular date night as well. This doesn’t have to be expensive or lengthy. Even a cup of tea together after the kids have gone to bed can keep things fresh.
3. Learn All You Can About Learning Styles
Consider how your child learns. Some children are naturally suited to visual learning while others lean more towards auditory resources. Others may learn best from hands-on resources. Keep your child’s unique learning style in mind as you select lessons and other educational resources, but don’t go overboard with trying to stick to one type of style and exclude others. For many children, the best choices may be multisensory resources that stimulate in many different ways.
4. Find Creative Ways to Keep Little Ones Occupied
While it would be wonderful if younger children would sit quietly and color or draw while you teach the older kids, the exact opposite often happens in most homes. Just when you need a bit of quite time to read a history passage or work on a science project, little Johnny may become his most needy.
This is when you’ll need to be creative. Spend a little time with your preschooler before school time and during breaks. Then, compile a box of toys, crayons, paper, and coloring books that is just for homeschool time. Don’t let your preschooler use any of these things when you’re not working with the older children. Rotate the contents of the box on a regular basis, maybe once a week, so your child won’t get bored. Before lesson time, build some excitement by letting her know it’s almost time to pull out her special box.
If you have more than one older child, consider taking turns teaching each child while the other child plays with your preschooler. Maybe they can even play school!
5. Plan Your Meals
This piece of advice means different things for different people. For some, it will mean bulk cooking, which involves cooking a week’s (or even a month’s worth of food) and storing it in the freezer, ready to reheat at a moment’s notice. For others, this will mean diligently consuming leftovers, so that you’re not cooking every day. However, good planning can even be as simple as creating a menu a few days, a week, or a month in advance. How you do it is not nearly as important as making sure that getting food on the table isn’t stressful for you at the end of a busy homeschooling day.
6. Understand Your Tools
Keep in mind that curriculum materials are really just tools to help you educate your children. While you do want to make the best choices possible, avoid anxiety over choosing the perfect resources. Remember that you can tweak and tailor your choices to suit your child’s needs, if necessary. Also, keep in mind that you are the most important factor in your homeschool program. How you relate with and engage your children may be a bigger factor in home education success than which textbook you choose.
7. Think Outside the Box
You may hear about a wonderful math program that has been perfect for the family down the street. After buying it, however, you may find it to be a desperate flop in your own household. Why? Each child is unique and may respond to educational resources differently. Observe your child, try different approaches, and apply what works in your own household, not solely depending on what works well for others.
Remember that textbooks are not the only, or even the best, learning tools. Use games, projects, videos, songs, and even movement to interest your child and help her to learn rather than just memorize.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Switch Gears
Unfortunately, even the most carefully made plans sometimes fail to produce the results you desire. If you find that an approach or resource just isn’t working for your child, don’t be afraid to switch gears. You don’t have to stick it out for the entire year. Instead, move on to something that better suits your child’s needs.
What if you’ve already purchased an expensive curriculum? Of course, you won’t want to take a total loss. Consider selling it online. Many people are willing to purchase used curriculum materials, especially if they’re in good shape.
Alternatively, you may choose to supplement your current curriculum with resources that improve your child’s learning experience. For example, you might find hands-on math games and projects to help a child who is having trouble with his or her math textbook. Or you might choose educational videos to follow dry history passages and make learning more fun for your child.
9. Enlist the Kids’ Help with Housework
Don’t feel pressured to do it all alone. You’re not the only person who lives in your home, so why should you be the only person responsible for its upkeep? Remember, having your children at home all day naturally leads to more mess. Enlist your children’s help in keeping things tidy by assigning a couple of chores to each child. Not only will this help you conserve energy for teaching, but it will also provide your children with valuable life skills.
Get the little ones involved too. Even toddlers can toss bits of paper in a waste basket or add stray toys to a pile. They may even think it’s fun! Shhhh…don’t tell them it’s work.
10. Schedule Me Time
This is one of the most important tips for homeschool parents. With so many different responsibilities and tasks on your plate, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and drained. You can replenish your energy stores and dramatically improve your outlook by making regular time just for you. This benefits the whole family, as a happy parent is free to engage and relate well with her children.
If you can, go out with your friends, or even take in a movie by yourself. Sip a cup of coffee at your local java house or go to a bookstore and browse your favorite section (skip the kids’ section this time). Can’t get out? Wake up a little early and have coffee or tea on your back deck or porch, taking in the morning air completely undisturbed. At night? Enjoy a bubble bath while your partner entertains the kids. It doesn’t matter what you do. Just make a little time for yourself each week. It will make a difference!