To all the homeschooling parents out there: We salute you!
Raising children is a tough job as is; but throw educational instruction in the mix and an occasionally trying occupation becomes epically challenging. Yes, you become legendary in our eyes, the conquering hero on a quest to find the best education possible.
Even epic heroes need some support now and again. To this end, we’ve compiled a list of homeschool tips that you can turn to if your path falters, if you need a refresher, or if you don’t know where to begin. Without further ado, below are our top 10 homeschooling tips:
- Do your homework. Familiarize yourself with the educational laws and expectations for homeschool programs in your town and state. Most districts require annual progress reports; some expect homeschoolers to establish a learning plan. Whether you decide to adopt a structured curriculum or a more flexible plan, be sure to stay within your district’s guidelines.
- Set educational goals with everyday life and the future in mind. Ask yourself how the lessons learned will provide your child with the necessary skills to become a successful, self-assured member of society.
- Let your child be your guide—within reason. Consider his or her learning style, interests and approach to play. This will enable you to customize many of your lessons and capitalize on your child’s enthusiasm and natural abilities.
- Learn from your missteps and move on. Activities or lessons that work for another homeschooled student may not work for your child. Don’t waste time trying to force results or fretting over the whys or why nots. There are many ways to homeschool your child, and this flexibility allows you to create the best possible educational environment.
- Create a learning community. Find a few like-minded homeschoolers in your area. By sharing experiences and ideas, you may be able to avoid common pitfalls and discover new resources. In addition, you’ll have a go-to group for field trips and learning events. Remember to search for homeschool organizations, support groups and homeschool resources by state.
- Don’t forget the value of life learning. Poetry, geometry…carpentry? Reading, writing… cooking? Think about skills that will help your child grow into a capable adult and teach those too.
- Find a workspace separate from the controlled chaos of family life and stick with it. Designating a specific room or nook in your house will help ease the transition from child to student, from Mom or Dad to teacher. Be sure to keep distractions outside of the real or imagined walls for a set period of time.
- Tap into the experts available at your fingertips. These days there’s a wealth of knowledge online, from virtual tutors and schools to various types of curriculum and math games. Social networking sites can be valuable sources of information, especially for parents who don’t have a community of homeschoolers in their area. Furthermore, be sure to read curriculum reviews to stay on top
- Visit the outdoor classroom daily, if possible. Regular physical activity gets the blood flowing, stimulates the mind as well as the body, and makes children even more excited about learning. OK, we made that last part up, but as you likely know, playing outside in the fresh air can be like hitting a “refresh” button.
- Remain patient and keep in mind that some days will pass by in a blur, so by the time you fall into bed you’re convinced that you are unfit to teach your child. You know as well as we do that your child can learn valuable lessons just by seeing you struggle to stay on topic or resist interruption. You may want to reference one of those days to discuss coping skills for life’s ups and downs.
Kathy Satterfield is an editor and writer with more than 10 years of experience specializing in educational media for children. Most recently, as Senior Editor for TIME for Kids magazine, she managed the content of the 2nd- to 3rd-grade News Scoop edition and researched, reported and wrote for the 4th- to 6th-grade World Report edition. Last but certainly not least, Kathy is mom/assistant/snuggler-in-chief for a busy 2-year-old boy.