Homeschooling a child is a big decision yet it can be one of the most rewarding experiences for a parent to make – and for the child. With the right education and support, homeschooling can lead to a successful learning experience for children. This article will help any parent undertake homeschooling for the first time, offering guidance on how to successfully plan for teaching their child from home.
1 Understand Homeschooling Laws
Before commencing homeschooling, it is essential to understand your state and local laws regarding home education. These rules vary from state to state, so it is important to investigate the exact stipulations to ensure you are acting within the bounds of legal requirements.
Generally, state governments in the U. S. require that any parent wanting to homeschool must: notify the school district or the state; provide courses of instruction with a qualified teacher or appropriate organization; administer an annual assessment or portfolio review; and, keep attendance records.
2 Research Homeschool Curriculum
Once you have determined the local laws concerning homeschool, the next step is to form a curriculum. Different homeschooling styles, such as Montessori, Waldorf and UnSchooling, as well as classical, traditional and unit studies can be researched to decide which approach works best for the family.
Choosing from the various sources and resources of text books, online reading, learning, and hobby-oriented material can lay the foundation for your family’s curriculum.
3 Gather Supplies and Resources
Gathering all the necessary supplies and resources for homeschooling is an important step for first time homeschoolers. It can include anything from resource books and reference material, an organized space to conduct classes, and even snacks and refreshments for study breaks. As there will be times when a parent can’t find the answer to a student’s question, having access to research materials, one-on-one tutoring and even library resources, can give the student the support they need to answer their own questions.
4 Create Balance and Structure
Creating balance and structure to the day is important for both parent and student. Providing a steady schedule of class times each day builds important skills and routines into the child’s daily life for years to come. Establishing breaks and interesting activities such as music lessons, hikes or other activities provide a great source of enrichment that may be difficult to get in a traditional school setting.
5 Stay Organized and Prepare for Field Trips
Keeping organized throughout the school year helps keep the homeschooling experience running smoothly. Invest in a good filing system or online software package such as Google Drive to keep track of student test scores, paperwork and other records. Include lots of field trips and other out-of-the-home activities to ensure your student is getting a well-rounded educational experience.
Making time to also include family events, day trips and other activities helps keep everyone feeling motivated and connected.
6 Don’t Over Compare
Comparing your children’s home-schooled experience with other children of the same age can be a tempting task, however it is best to focus on the individualised achievements of your own child. Different schools may use different curriculums, have different educational philosophies and the objectives of other parents will differ from your own. Keeping your perspective on the progress of your own child, and not overly comparing them to others, helps keep a balanced perspective as to their individual progress.
7 Set Realistic Expectations for Yourself and Your Child
As with any new venture, setting realistic expectations for yourself and your child is paramount for success. For example, if a child becomes overwhelmed with the amount of information on the first day of school, it doesn’t mean that homeschooling is a failure.
It may just mean that expectations were too high from the outset. Setting reasonable expectations and realistic goals helps everyone remain flexible, while still working towards the overall goal of a successful learning experience.
8 Join Homeschool Communities
Starting as a first time homeschooler can seem overwhelming at times. One of the best sources of encouragement, support and advice is to join online homeschool communities. Most regions have local homeschooling networks available and parents will also find great advice and support from private Facebook or other online groups.
Such communities are great places to ask questions, share ideas and seek out support from other homeschoolers.
9 Seek Out Social Interaction
One of the main concerns of homeschooling is that a student may lack the necessary social interaction available in a classroom environment. Many homeschoolers join outside classes such as art, speech, drama, music and physical education where students have the chance to interact with children of the same age.
There are also plenty of outside activities such as scouts, 4H, homeschooling events and other get-togethers, where children can be with other homeschoolers.
10 Establish Routines
Establishing routines helps give a student a sense of normalcy and structure. At the start of each school year, basics such as how far in advance the student should start their homework, the days for each subject and when the child needs to take breaks should all be established.
If a student has a regular planned schedule, it can help limit distractions as well as helping a student to get their work done in a timely manner.
11 Understand Your Own Learning Style
It is important for parents to understand their own learning style so that they can understand best how to teach their own child. Every learning style is different, so it is best to be aware of the particular needs and learning style of your own child.
Visual learners may benefit from PowerPoint presentation while auditory learners may prefer listening to recordings or reciting information out loud. Understanding yours and your child’s learning styles is essential to successful homeschooling.
12 Pull Out Educational Books and Toys
When setting up your homeschool, pull out educational books and toys that your student already has. Making learning fun and incorporating books and toys into their learning experience will help the child remain engaged.
It is also great to spice up the learning environment with items such as puzzles, flash cards, shaped play dough, music and other Montessori toys.
13 Be Ready to Ask for Help
Take the time to get to know the resources around the homeschool community. There are many homeschool support centers open, both in person and online.
Guidance is available at any level, from helping parents understand the local laws to finding resources and making the best use of online tools or communities. Asking for help is never a weakness and it takes courage to ask for advice when needed.
Planning for homeschooling for the first time doesn’t have to be daunting – it can actually be an enjoyable experience with the right planning and support. Understanding the law, researching curriculum and resources, and setting up realistic expectations for yourself and your child are essential elements for embarking on the home education journey. And, by joining the homeschool community and asking for help when you need it, you will have a much better chance of making the most of your homeschooling experience.