Here we are. Homeschooling for beginners (me). Many of you might be like me and are finding yourself in a situation where you have chosen to homeschool. And, to make it even more humorous, you likely told yourself more than once, “I’ll never homeschool.”
I find when I use the word never, it often really gets God’s attention and He finds ways to help me kindly remember that he is in control! But in all seriousness, what are we to do? All of us nervous, and excited, homeschooling beginners?
I may not be a veteran homeschooler with years of solid advice, but listen, I am here with you in the real-life world and I do have some solid tips that will help you settle into your own little rhythm and routine that will provide just what you need in your home.
#1 You know best
Since last April, when we began “distance learning,” I slid into the role of homeschooling beginner. I asked the teacher to not send home the work packets, that we would come up with our own curriculum. In the few weeks we were going through packet material, I quickly realized the areas that my Super J was struggling in and what areas we could really devote some time. This is the beautiful thing about homeschooling; you truly do know your child best.
So, I encourage you to sit and think about what you desire your school year to look like. Examine if you work better on a schedule or something with more wiggly room. How does your child learn best? Are they a hands-on learner or do they enjoy worksheets and reading? Do not doubt what you know about your child. You, mama, truly do know your child best.
As an Enneagram One, this is one area I struggle with. I thrive on routine and schedules; however, my ten-year-old is not always as receptive to my timeline. Since he has his entire school experience based on Montessori-style learning, I have decided to allow him to be more of a participant. Each week I will outline what tasks need to get accomplished, and he will get to choose the order he does them as well as what days he works.
Right now, we’ve set our school week up for Tuesday through Friday. I think this schedule will work best for us, but if it needs shifted, no worries, we can do that. He will choose the tasks he wants to work on and in what order. He can see there are a certain number of tasks for the week, divided by the number of days he wants to work, and can easily see how many he needs to accomplish daily to finish in the time he desires.
Since we have only one child at home, this should work good for us. If you have more than one child, you could still use this philosophy but shift it a bit to accommodate your unique situation. I love giving children opportunities to problem solve and develop some life skills. Learning to manage your time is a huge life skill so many kids do not learn.
#3 Take breaks
The wonderful thing about homeschooling and what we have learned in the past five months is that our schedule gets to look however we want. If we want to start school at 11 a.m., great. If we want to start at 7 a.m., perfect. If we desire to have breaks throughout the day to take a walk or do another activity, why not?! I have found we all work better together when we have frequent breaks.
I encourage you to have some fun break activities lined up so they are easy to go into. One thing my ten-year-old really enjoyed was taking a trampoline break. This was perfect and great for rainy days too. We have this mini-trampoline set up in our basement and he can go take a break for 10 to 30 minutes. He burns energy and it really helps to reset his emotions. Think of a few standard “break” activities you can have lined up to choose from and then fit them into your day.
#4 Choose simple
If you are new at this homeschooling gig, just remember, you get to decide how it goes. And, in my humble opinion, simple is best. Pick curriculum that is SIMPLE!! There are so many to choose from for sure, but resist the urge to become overwhelmed. Look at a few, ask a few friends who have experience, and then pick one!! We chose most of our curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful because it was simple! Easy instructions and I wasn’t having to create some big elaborate lesson plans. That certainly does not bring me joy! For math, we grabbed Masterbooks and I cannot tell you how happy I am with the book. Easy laid out lessons, organized, and not online. I did not want an online program for math since we were planning to hit the road traveling, but also we just desire less screen time for him.
#5 One day at a time
It’s an old saying, but relevant to homeschooling for beginners. We all need to just take one day at a time. For myself, I am holding close the idea that I can change up what we are doing in the middle of the year, or even two weeks after we start. Nothing is forever. It doesn’t mean I messed up or we did something wrong—not at all. That is the beauty of homeschooling. It’s fluid and flowing. I am anticipating that we will need to shift and that is okay. Having other expectations would just be setting myself up for failure, and who needs that?
Finally, if you have not read The Call of the Wild and Free: Reclaiming Wonder in Your Child’s Education by Ainsley Arment, do it. It’s calming my heart in so many ways. Read it or listen to it as soon as you can; you will find empowerment!!
I want to help equip you to be successful in your journey.
I’ve created a few FREE Homeschooling planner pages to use in your planning with your child(ten). We are currently using the page with the subjects along the left side and my won gets to choose what he does each day from the list. This system is working well, as I only have one child and am not concerned with him getting all subjects each day, but rather allowing him to have some ownership and choice in the process. There are a couple other options as well, and all have an editable page, which means you can download the file and use Acrobat Reader to type in your own fields then SAVE your file to your desktop. Grab yours here.
Do you have any other tips for homeschooling for beginners? I sure would love to hear them. I know many of us are in this together for the first time ever, and it’s always more fun to do something together with friends.