School is a hot topic in America right now. And over the next month a lot of people are going to be making big, life impacting decisions for their kiddos.
Many people are tossing around the concept of homeschool. How to do it? Could they do it? What’s it like? Is it the best decision for their family?
I sincerely believe that the best decision might not be the same for every family. But with that said, I’d love to offer my perspective as a 4 year homeschooling veteran. I’m a mom that initially resisted the idea of homeschool. In fact, I had some pretty negative feelings about homeschooling. And I made it clear that it would never be something I’d choose for my kids.
But life happens. As I’m sure everyone has realized. And sometimes homeschooling becomes the best option for your family.
So here it is…my best advice and perspective on how to homeschool your kids.
- Choose Homeschool, Don’t Let It Choose You
There are a lot of reasons people chose to homeschool pre-pandemic. For perspective, I’d love to offer a few of our “pros” when it came to making the decision for our family.
- Flexible schedule: We don’t set alarms at our house. Sometimes we take a day off during the week. We travel whenever we want. Our family isn’t held captive by a school calendar.
- Our Own Pace: My kids are able to learn at a pace that works for them. In Kindergarten my son finished his math curriculum by Christmas (and yes, we skipped some pages!) He’s continued to work ahead in math. On the flip side, we have done multiple curriculums for each grade level for reading and we’re taking it slow.
- Control: One thing I appreciate the most about homeschool is being able to control the curriculum. For example, we use Story of The World to teach History. It begins with creation. And incorporates ALL of history. We’re also able to supplement book learning using hands on experiences like visiting museums and historical sites.
- Stretched Time: My kids don’t spend the same amount of time doing schoolwork as kids in a traditional classroom setting. We get our work done, and have tons of time for play and activities. There’s also no such thing as homework when you homeschool.
Homeschooling can be a choice.
And it can be a very positive thing for many families. You may need to shift your perspective and look at all the things you will gain from making this decision.
- Realize Homeschool Isn’t As Difficult As You Think
Before I began homeschooling I was so stressed about my children’s ability to learn from me at home. I wanted our days to look perfect. If I’m being honest, I didn’t just want them to excel. I wanted to excel as a homeschool mom.
But guess what? For the first two months, we were all miserable.
I spent way too much time researching “how to homeschool” and making charts and schedules. I tried to structure our day similar to a classroom. But then I realized, there was a reason we’d chosen to homeschool. And our days didn’t have to look like the traditional learning model.
Homeschooling isn’t just about the book lessons!
Here’s an example of how I might incorporate learning in a non traditional way:
- Both kids select a new recipe. This typically involves them pouring through cookbooks for an hour, reading various recipes. (Reading)
- The kids have to check our pantry for ingredients we already have on hand and make a grocery list for the items they need. (Writing)
- Often I’ll ask one of them to combine their lists with my own. In alphabetical order. Or by category. I might dictate items from my list to be placed on the master grocery list. (Spelling, Phonics, Writing)
- At the grocery store I often ask them to help me find the best deals on certain items. They’ve learned that they need to study the price per ounce or item. Often buying the same item in bulk saves money, but not always. (Math)
- I always ask them to estimate the total of what’s in our cart. They have to take into consideration tax too! There’s usually a small prize for anyone who estimates within $5. (Math)
- It’s always a team effort to carry in the groceries and put them away. (PE)
- Sometimes we even google the origin of the recipe they’ve selected or spend time learning about the culture where the recipe came from. (History)
- Preparing the recipe they selected. (Math, Reading)
Obviously, this isn’t something we do every day. But usually once a week. I love when I can incorporate real life into lessons with virtually no extra effort (hey, I’d be going to the grocery store and cooking anyway- why not make it fun?)
This doesn’t take the place of book learning, but it absolutely makes school more fun for all of us!
There are really a million ways to incorporate learning into an ordinary day. I’m a firm believe that real life learning is just as important as book learning.
- Homeschool The Way It Works For you
If you talk to 100 homeschool families, you’ll likely get 100 different suggestions of “the best” way to do it.
Everyone needs to find a system that works for them. Here are a few of the major categories of homeschooling (but this won’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the options out there):
- Online Homeschool: especially as kids get older, I think the online resources are incredible!
- Co-op or University Model: this would be a local group or school in your area. Typically you pay a fee and your children may attend 1 or more days per week. And homeschool on the other days.
- Curriculum Specific Homeschool: I really hesitated with this group title because technically all homeschool has some sort of curriculum. But what I mean is that you select a specific curriculum brand and base your lessons off of this method. If your interested in learning more, check out this post from Homeschool Made Simple: 10 Most Popular Homeschool Programs.
Don’t just take one person’s advice because that might not be what works best for your family. I love A beka math because my kids both “get” math and they need to be challenged to stay engaged. But I’ve heard a lot of people who prefer something else.
Be flexible. Figure out what style of homeschooling works best for your family.
Most curriculums are available for purchase online. You can often find second hand copies of teacher’s manuals. Obviously, it will be important to purchase new workbooks.
To wrap this up, I’d like to offer a few final tips to keep in mind as you begin to tackle the task of figuring out how to homeschool.
- Focus on what you will gain from homeschooling. Extra time with your kids. Extra freedom. Extra opportunities.
- Don’t let stereotypes hold you back. Just because you homeschool doesn’t mean you need to start making your own clothes or churning butter.
- Set expectations, boundaries and limits. Homeschooling isn’t a year round extension of summer. My kids have to-do lists every day that they must complete.
- Make it fun for everyone. As I mentioned, you’re not chained to a desk. Take your lessons outside on a pretty day. Visit a museum. Don’t feel like you’re confined to a desk for 7 hours per day.
- Extend grace often. To your kids. To yourself. Some days will be better than others.
I’m happy to answer any specific questions you might have about how to homeschool. Please leave a comment and I’ll make sure to respond.
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