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Your children’s education is incredibly important, and there are many considerations that go into making the decision to homeschool your kids. After all, as their parents, you want to give your kids the best start in life that you can. Sometimes, the public school system just doesn’t work out, private schools are expensive, or you just know that you can teach your child in their own way and in their own environment.
Homeschooling includes so many things in addition to academics, such as physical skills, social skills, field trips, sports, music, and much more. It’s not just sitting around a table working from books all day. If your child learns best that way, great! But most children do not. They need creativity. They need to move. They need to experience learning out in the world.
How can you create a well-rounded homeschool program that gives your children the most benefits that you can? How do you KNOW that you CAN do this?
These strategies will help you create a successful homeschooling program for your children:
Research homeschooling. Read everything you can about the different curriculums that are available. Talk to other homeschooling parents, as well as their homeschooled kids, to learn from their experience. There is no one way that works for everyone. There are many different styles of homeschooling. Some families work exclusively from a curriculum that they order every year. Some put their own curriculum together, and some don’t follow one at all!
Find out the homeschooling requirements for your area. This varies from location to location. For example, in the United States, each state sets their own requirements for homeschooling. Some states require attendance records, as well as reports and standardized tests. Other states require little. In our state, we have to file a letter that shows that we are homeschooling to our Department of Education as well as the local superintendent. Then, at the end of the year, a certified teacher has to evaluate what we did to educate our children and submit a letter stating that the child has met all requirements and can continue homeschooling.
Join a local homeschooling group. One of the best places to find out information about homeschooling is from homeschoolers themselves. You will be able to ask them questions, allow them to show you the many different styles of homeschooling, and show you what works for them.
You can also learn what age-appropriate activities are available, plus how the other parents make subjects available to their kids that they don’t have expertise in, such as a foreign language or playing a musical instrument. Some places have co-ops where the children get together with other children and learn. Again, there are many different styles of these. The one we are involved in follow a nature-based, unschooling type of style.
Many local homeschooling groups have arranged all sorts of things for the kids, including field trips, sports teams, and even competitions.
Decide on the curriculum. There are various places online where you can buy a curriculum to use at home. These will vary from traditional textbooks and workbooks for reading, writing, and arithmetic, to more custom curriculum that is aimed more at your own child’s interests. If you choose to follow a more interest-based approach, we love Funschooling!
Create your own space for homeschooling. Where are you going to be schooling your children? Will you be using the kitchen table, or do you have a spare room available to set up for homeschooling? Do you need a blackboard or a desk? What about a computer or space for storage? Trust me, the books add up and so do the fun art supplies.
Set specific goals. It is important when homeschooling to set specific goals. This is because you will likely be moving at a different pace to those in traditional schooling. What do you hope to accomplish each year? Why did you choose homeschooling? What is important to you, your family, and your children? Do you want to follow the current state standards or go along at your own pace (we do the latter and you will find that most homeschoolers will tell you the same). Don’t worry so much about standardized tests. Your job is to prepare your child to enter the world and the workforce when they are old enough to do so. That’s it. All children do not learn the same way at the same time. My oldest was reading at age four, but my youngest is just learning his alphabet at that age.
Create your own schedule that works for your particular family and your family’s needs. Once you’ve thought about goals for your child, it’s time to create a schedule that supports those goals. Make a plan of what subjects you are planning to do (maybe plan the days out if you are inclined to do so), and whether there will be any field trips.
Also, include time in your children’s schedule for physical activity, socializing, and making friends. Extracurricular activities are important. So are social skills. Don’t forget that playground time counts as physical activity, as do sports!
Networking with other parents will help keep you in the loop about what activities are available for your child. Join a local group of homeschoolers and you will be sure to have a whole new world opened up for you.
Remember, even though you’ve made a plan, you’re allowed to be flexible. That’s one of the benefits of homeschooling. You DON’T HAVE TO FOLLOW A SCHOOL SCHEDULE!!! That’s right. Many families work full time and teach their children at night or in the morning before heading off to work.
Ensure that your child doesn’t become isolated. Spending all day with you may seem like a dream but your child may think differently. They need friends of their own age, so let them be kids too. There are plenty of options to get your children out with other kids. You just have to step out and find other homeschoolers in your area. In this day and age, you would be surprised at how many there are!
Homeschooling doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, but if you are homeschooling or are considering it, keep these tips in mind for a successful program that can benefit your children for life. Ultimately, remember that your children WILL be successful in life, as long as you allow them to learn in their own style and their own time. If you have questions, drop them in the comments below!