Are you new to homeschooling?
1. Establish a philosophy of education, first. You may shift or change it over the years (of course you will), but start there anyway. You want to know why you are home educating, how you understand learning, what you believe your role is in your children’s lives as educator, and how you expect your home to feel while you home educate.
2. A curriculum does not provide you with a philosophy of education. It will reflect the philosophy of its creators, but it can’t create peace in your home, it can’t cause learning. Peace and learning come from how you understand home education and what you do to create the context for those things. As you deepen your beliefs about your relationships to your kids and what learning really is, you’ll discover what sorts of books and educational tools foster peace and progress and which ones undermine them. It’s up to YOU to create the context. No book or tool will do it for you.
3. You don’t have to answer all your questions about homeschool before you start. Some of your answers come in the “doing.” You get started and then you evaluate, then you try a little something new and see how that goes. As you do, you’ll firm your convictions about how learning happens best with your kids, in your living room or at your kitchen table.
4. Give the materials you purchase a fair trial. It’s not enough to page through them and give a half effort and then declare that it doesn’t work. You do need to do some preparation. Even “open and go” curricula expect you to understand their aims and you must actually use the tools for several weeks to determine if they work or not, if your child likes the book or not. Be conscientious. You will need to spend time outside “school hours” reading and discovering how to teach math or grammar or to prepare for a science experiment. If all the tools you use are “open and go,” it could be that “nobody is home” in your homeschool. It could be that you are falling into the trap of “getting it done” rather than fostering learning and a love of educational exploration.
5. Scrap curricula no matter how much it costs if it causes your children to cry.
6. You matter. Homeschool is not a solo experience, even if you are unschooling your kids. You are the most critical educational tool in your child’s life. You provide conversation, reactions, enthusiasm, tools, money, involvement, partnership, modeling, typing, bragging, and pride in your child’s accomplishments. Your kids need YOU, not just supervision.
7. Remember that not every day will be a “good one.” Some are boring, some make people unhappy, some are ridiculously harmonious and exciting. So is life. Homeschool is life. Expect it to have ups and downs and don’t overly analyze it. Let it be the warp and woof of your lives together.
8. Be around supportive cheerleaders, not naggers, not nay-sayers, not relatives in the school system who don’t believe in homeschool. Makes friends, do not be isolated, get help.
9. Take pictures and jot down anything good! Keep records not just for “credit” but for your memories! Homeschool is delightful. Celebrate it by treating it like a birthday party. Get good photos, display them. Write the funny comments your kids say, or the amazing facts they recite. Keep these as momentos of a life well-lived together.
10. Take breaks! You need them. I suggest once a week getting away from the house alone for a cafe latte or to take a walk. Go somewhere to process and reflect. Make adjustments. Take notes on your own thought process about learning. Then come back renewed.
Post questions if you have them (newbies), or more advice if you’ve got that (veterans)!
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