Getting Started Homeschooling

It’s the beginning of yet another school year.   Many parents are reconsidering their education options for their children.  Some parents just get a feeling that a change may be in the best interest of the student or the family as a whole.  Some students struggled through the last year in school and possibly even summer school.  Some parents can no longer afford the private school that their child has been attending due to the current financial climate. 

Whatever the reason, now is the perfect time to reconsider homeschooling whether you already do home education with your family or are interested.  A new school year marks a new beginning and a fresh start.  We all need a clean slate and the chance to change things for the better.

If you have chosen to homeschool this year there are some crucial things to keep in mind when getting started.

Pace yourself – most first time homeschool parents think that they can spend all of their extra time one on one with children feeding them new curriculum.  While this sounds great in theory you will burn out and you need to find a pace that you can be consistent with.  This is for the benefit of the teacher and the student. Curriculum does not have to cost you a fortune.  Curriculum should meet state standards but you need to be sure that you look into your school district carefully.  There are many programs now that are publicly funded.  Most states have such programs.  We recommend going straight to your district office, not an individual school to find out about these programs.  Individual schools will not want to be as helpful as there is funding at stake and you can bet that they want the funding that having your child enrolled can bring to them.

Extra curricular activities.  Children need extra activities besides core subject to help make them well rounded as well as give them a social opportunity to blossom.  Be careful to not overschedule children.  One or two things per week is just fine.  Even twice monthly is good for some activities.  Your city, school district, local college campus, local arts council, state and national parks all have programs for children throughout the school year.  See if you can get information and give your child some wonderful opportunities.

Be prepared to be flexible.  A school teacher in a traditional classroom has to be flexible with their teaching plans depending on the needs of the various students.  However, when a student is ill, they stay home.  When you are the teacher in your home, the child stays there.  Be sure to allow a child the day to rest if needed.  This will allow them to be at their best soon so that they do well in their school work.  Also, leave a pad of time in your day for incidental things that just happen to come up.

Turn off the phone and hang a sign on the door.  Many families that homeschool find that to help keep the schedule rolling in their homes they need to put boundaries in place.  If education is the priority during certain hours of the day you may put a message on your answering machine stating that you return calls after school hours.  One homeschool mom puts a clock on her front door (made of construction paper and laminated) and it shows what time the children and the teaching parent will be available to answer the door.  This keep there from being the many little distractions throughout the day.

Find joy in the process of learning.  If you teach a child to enjoy learning, you have given them the world.  If you show them where to find answers and help them ask smart questions you have opened up limitless opportunities for them.  Some curriculums will have you so hung up on hours spent schooling, attendance and test results that you may find yourself bogged down in rigidity rather than blossoming in the freedom of the home school experience.

Keep in mind that education is not “one size fits all”.  If you get half way through the year and you don’t like how things are going just revisit your purpose and the needs of your family and make the necessary changes.  It does no good to feel guilty, just keep doing what you feel is best for your child in a way that gets them what they need educationally.  Have a happy year!

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