If you’re like many families across the United States, you may have decided to homeschool your kids this year for the first time. Research shows that growing numbers of families are choosing to home-educate in lieu of trying to manage distance learning for their children. This is a difficult time for all families, and we hope to offer some encouragement to those new families who are homeschooling. Here are a few practical things to remember and consider if you find yourself “suddenly homeschooling.”
- The time you spend homeschooling will likely be far less than what you may have been used to when your kids were in a traditional environment. That’s okay! When you have fewer children to educate and more time for one-on-one help, you get to avoid things like homework, and you tend to get through lessons faster. Enjoy the extra time, and don’t feel like you need to recreate the classroom schedule.
- You don’t need a “classroom” or a homeschool room, or a spare bedroom, or anything extra or fancy to homeschool, honestly! Your kitchen table, a couch, or a comfy floor can all be excellent places to conduct learning. Kids often enjoy having the flexibility to complete their lessons in different locations, because let’s be honest, sitting at a desk can get kind of boring at times. Enjoy the freedom you have, and let your lessons take place wherever it’s most convenient for you in your home (or even your local library or park).
- Get out when you can–homeschooling should be fun and flexible! If it’s a gorgeous day out and the weather is better than maybe it’s been for days, take a break. Do your lessons outside, hit the park or zoo, or whatever works for you in your area. The beauty of homeschooling is showing your kids that learning can happen everywhere and allow them to learn through a variety of different opportunities and experiences. You can even direct lessons while in other locations or even en-route to other places. For example, I sometimes have my kids do a math worksheet in the car, and we often listen to our world history lesson, Story of the World on CD in the car as well. While at, say the zoo or park, we can talk about what we are studying in science, whether it’s Botany or Zoology, there is always opportunity to use the world around you to point your kids towards learning.
- Keep it simple, and save your money. There is a LOT of incredible curriculum out there for parents to use, and some of it can be very expensive! If you’re new to homeschooling, there are dozens of free options and online programs you can use as supplements. You don’t need a $300 math program to teach your child addition and subtraction. You can find loads of worksheets and other materials even on Pinterest, and get support from other homeschooling parents (often through local groups and social media) for additional support and even new-to-you textbooks. Save your money for the zoo.
- Start a cottage school. One of the best ways to lighten the load of homeschooling and to get the support and encouragement you need is to consider partnering with other families. Starting a cottage school is simple and fun. You can start by meeting once a week for maybe 2 hours and doing 1 – 2 subjects together. That’s it! If you’re considering starting a cottage school, we have a wonderful resource that outlines what we have done, and it’s available for purchase and instant download here.