I receive quite a few phone calls from people wanting help to start homeschooling. The question they ask is “How do I start?”. This isn’t an easy “Do x, y, and z” type of question. It’s also something that another person can’t answer for you as there are so many different ways to homeschool depending on what you believe, how your children learn best and what your goals are. But at the same time I can understand people desiring some sort of plan or path to follow until they find their feet in this very new and unknown world.
There’s several things I usually share with my callers and I thought I’d share them here too in case they might help others. Feel free to add your own suggestions.
* You don’t have to keep your children in school until you work out the perfect plan. Bring them home. Declare school holidays if you desire while you work out how you want to travel down the homeschool path.
* Do things that you enjoy doing until you work out what else you think you need to do. If you enjoy cooking, cook with the children; if you are a craft loving family, pile the children in the car for a hunting trip to your favourite craft store; if you are book-loving people, spend your days snuggling on the couch reading out loud. Whatever your passion is share it with love.
* There is no right and wrong way to do this, just right and wrong ways for you. Expect to try a few different ways before you settle on one that you think suits your family.
* Do things in ways that you know how. If the only way you know how to teach Math is with a school textbook than get a school textbook and start with that. BUT be open to learn new ways and try new things if the way you know doesn’t seem to be working.
* Plan light days at first. Just do a few things that you know will be enjoyable and successful. Set yourself up to succeed. Then add in a little more at a time. Ease yourself into a full routine.
* Remember that there will be bad day and moments. We all have them. School teachers have them and homeschool parents have them too. They are to be expected. But don’t be hard on yourself or your children. Get through it in the best way you can (even if you have to cancel school for the day) and know that you get to wipe the slate clean and start fresh again tomorrow. One bad day does not mean it’s not working. Just hold onto your hat and know that it’ll pass.
* There’s no need to rush out and buy anything. Use what you have for the moment. Use the children’s school textbooks for a while if you feel you need workbooks. Go to the library and bring home bags and bags of their books. Even if you have money to spend, it’s not always wise to buy the list of resources and books that other homeschoolers recommend. You’ll only end up with a shelf of great books that were wonderful for that family but not necessarily for yours. With time and a little experience up your sleeve you’ll discover the resources that are really valuable to your family and your chosen homeschooling preferences.
* Arrange outings and playdates as often as you enjoy. You do not have to attend every available homeschool gathering to socialise your children. Find the right balance and environment for you and your children.
* Do make contact with a few homeschooling families for support and friendship. It helps you to feel more “normal” when the people you surround yourself with are also homeschooling. Non-homeschoolers are polite listeners but when we start to rave about how wonderful homeschooling is (and find it hard to stop), it’s often only another homeschooler who will agree and say “How very true!” (and not fall asleep after 5 to 10 minutes).
* Read widely. Read about homeschooling to help you get a feel for all its many facets. Read often to your children even when they can read to themselves. Encourage your readers by surrounding them with books that are too good not to pick up and nearly impossible to put down. Stash books everywhere, tempting your children to read at every turn. Make sure they see you reading too.
* Try not to worry (even though I know you will). It’s not the end of the world if you spend the next few weeks doing nothing that looks remotely like school. You won’t ruin your child’s education. There are always going to be gaps in their learning, even (especially??) if they went to school. Ignore the naysayers if you can. It’s just their funny way of showing you they care about you and your children. See it as that and love them back. Don’t bother arguing with them. Agree to disagree and get on with your homeschooling journey. They may just change their tune in time when they see how wonderful homeschooling can be.
* If homeschooling is what you believe to be right and what you want for your children, then make a firm decision and dedicate yourself to being the best homeschooling parent you can for your children. You can do this. It’s not the easy option but the rewards are worth the challenges and time. Remember there is always a way to help your child learn, it just takes determination and persistence to find the way that’s right for them.
Enjoy and love your children! 🙂
Welcome to homeschooling.