Does homeschooling have you feeling… ugh! Whether you’re excited or anxious about the upcoming school year, homeschooling is not for the faint of heart. While it can be challenging to get your kids into gear, follow a schedule and wrap your head around the curriculum, homeschooling can be effective and fun!
Breathe & don’t overthink it
Many parents quickly feel overwhelmed when they start homeschooling, and children can quickly feel exasperated. More often than not, this is because they are trying to reproduce a physical school experience at home, that’s a big mistake! “…the reality is that homeschooling is a whole other animal entirely. In fact, it doesn’t have much in common at all with traditional public school.” – The Survival Mom
The Survival Mom’s number one piece of advice is to ditch the idea of creating a classroom environment entirely. Your experience and schooling method will be unique to your abilities, your child’s interests and learning techniques, and the environment that best suits you. She also suggests keeping the following in mind:
- Your Role | You are your child’s facilitator or helper if you will. You are not required to have superior levels of knowledge or lecture your child. It would be best if you simply focused on how your child learns best, at what speed they learn best and what is of most interest to them.
- Stay Open | Just because a particular approach works at the beginning of the year doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do it. Embrace the flexibility of homeschooling, change the program or the approach as your needs you to. “If you want to spend an entire day playing math games and then going for a nature walk, do it! The flexibility and spontaneity are part of the adventure.” Reaching Happy is an excellent resource of ideas and methods if you look for a relaxed, happy-centric approach to homeschooling.
- Go Slow | Remember why on-site schools have such structured and lengthy curriculums; they are teaching 20+ children simultaneously. You are teaching your child(ren). “At the beginning of the school year, get your feet wet gently. Begin with just one subject for the first week.” Homeschooling provides the opportunity to go at your child’s unique pace, which is a really good thing.
Approach your homeschooling experience with a relaxed, open attitude. Focus on creating the best environment for your child’s unique needs and preferences. Last but not least, have fun!
Lay it out according to level
What is a typical homeschool schedule, you might ask? While you won’t need a concrete, minute-by-minute schedule, it is highly pertinent to consider your children’s age bracket. For example, Fobes suggests,
- Pre-K/K | “For preschoolers and kindergarteners, play should be the foundation of your homeschooling environment.” Saxoncourt reminds us that four and five-year-olds learn best through song, colourful imagery and movement. Discovery is the name of the game, especially when it comes to pre-k and kindergarten.
- Elementary | “(PreK-6), the Brain Quest workbooks by grade level offer abundant activities that are aligned with state curriculum standards so your child can stay on track with daily learning.” As our children reach elementary age, they are capable, enjoy challenges and even a little friendly competition. Strike a balance between energy, brain work and friendly competition, allowing your young child to learn more about who they are, what they are capable of and what they want to accomplish.
- Middle Age | “Many of the resources mentioned above will also work well for middle school-age children (typically grades 5-8), but there are some other resources for this group.” Middle age children are facing the adventure of puberty. With this period of growth comes self-identity, the importance of others’ opinions, and the challenge of confidence and independence versus inexperience. Tailoring your child’s curriculum to their specific interests and abilities will make homeschooling a positive and productive experience.
- High School | Teenagers may want to use this time to build skills in an area of interest or develop knowledge related to a career goal. The older levels of secondary schooling is an ideal time to narrow in on those career goals. Honing life skills is also an essential part of education at this level, to provide your child with everything they need to know before venturing out on their own.
Regardless of age, make sure to follow your child’s interests and learning levels, tailoring your studies to what illuminates their minds most. The one on one atmosphere creates a higher concentrated level of learning. You don’t need to go all day or even every day. Be open to adapting as you go and do your best to listen to your child’s feedback, verbally and via physical cues.
Preparation makes perfect
The one area that deserves your energy and time is researching the many methods and resources for homeschooling. Scholastic suggests, “Subscribe to magazines such as Homeschooling Today, visit the library, read books, and talk to people who homeschool — contact or join a local homeschool organization. ” They also highlight the need to:
- Take Your Time | “Don’t get frustrated if you don’t understand everything you read or hear.” You are not alone in doubting your abilities to homeschool your child or in the overwhelming feeling of beginning this journey. Homeschooling-Ideas puts it plainly, “Beginning homeschooling can be very daunting, and most people feel lost at first.” Please don’t give up, don’t despair; take it one step at a time and breathe, don’t forget to BREATHE.
- Reach Out | “Contact or join a local homeschool organization.” Are you worried about going it alone or wondering how to homeschool socially? Homeschool Canada is just one easy way to find and connect to Community Support Groups in your area.
- Local Regulations | “Homeschooling rules and regulations vary widely” from province to province, state to state, etc. A google search or consulting your province’s website will give you all the logistics you require to make it official. With the Covid pandemic, areas that were previously against homeschooling have made it much easier and accessible to homeschool.
Quebec homeschooling requirements and guidelines are found here
Supplies you will need
There is no strict list of what supplies you will need to homeschool your children. That said, you can reduce stress and be better able to stick to your plans if you are prepared.
- Basic Supplies | Just A Simple Home offers an essential list that will suit any age or grade. Keep in mind that choosing fun colours, patterns and designs, etc. is an excellent way to get your child excited about his or her space. Even if you plan to follow a loose, go with the flow learning method, you can benefit from having these basics on hand:
- Laptops | While a laptop is essential in high school, it is a great way to introduce your kids to typing skills and various useful learning games. Even elementary schools start their students on math and spelling games found online. PC Mag lists the best laptops for homeschooling, starting at as little as $369. Even in homes where screen time is prohibited, learning necessary computer skills is essential for your child as they grow older.
- Dealing with Distractions | Some children thrive in chaos, but at some point, even they require a little quiet. Using project boards, collapsible dividers are a great idea to create personal space at a communal table or transform a usual desk into a school time desk. For example, check out these dividers on Organizing Made Fun. If your child has trouble concentrating, you may also want to purchase a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
- Learning Area | Sitting at a desk for 6 hours is no way to learn, and in fact, many schools have long abandoned that format. That said, a quiet and clean designated space that enables concentration is a must-have. Pinterest can help you create a perfect, custom space. Again, don’t forget to have fun and personalize it to your child.
- Reading Area | You’ll notice that most libraries have a pleasant reading nook for the kids, equipped with cushions or fun chair alternatives. Create a tactile space with comfortable seating, carpet or mats for your child. Do they prefer to read lying on their tummies, in a hammock, in a treehouse… this is your child’s place and the more it suits his or her personal preferences, the more they will enjoy using it. Need some inspiration for reading nooks? Get Brainy Box offers sound advice and cute ideas to get you started.
- Physical Education | Only Passionate Curiosity has everything you need to build Phys. Ed. into your learning plan. You can achieve a healthy routine with a few essential items and an open mind.
- Backpack and Lunchbox | Once again, this one is more about making your kids feel special and less about practicality. Plus, the backpack is a great place to store their everyday materials. Here are 30 of the best backpacks for kids in 2020, from Best Products.com.
Homeschooling will be a rewarding experience for both you and your child. Perhaps it will be the ideal set-up for you both and the road on which you choose to stay until they graduate. As a former elementary teacher turned author and homeschool mother of five, Tamara L. Chilver said, “Homeschooling allows you the freedom to step off the learning highway and take a more scenic route along a dirt road.”
What if homeschooling doesn’t work for your family? That’s okay too. This is about you and your child’s education, do what works, when it works, for as long as it works. When it no longer works? Change it up.
Are you in need of a little extra funding for supplies or setting up your home classroom? You may want to consider a quick loan. 24Cash is a local business based in Canada that provides various lending options, adapted to your needs. Start the school year off on the right foot!