Taking responsibility for your child’s education can be wonderfully rewarding.
But even once you have weighed up your options — and decided that you do have the time, the drive, the ability, and the resources to teach your own children — you are still faced with many things to consider.
In truth, deciding how to homeschool can seem daunting at first, particularly if you haven’t got a great deal of professional experience or expert advice to fall back on.
Not to worry though, we’re here to help.
In this guide, we’ll run through the most important questions you’ll need to answer before starting your homeschool journey.
Where will you teach your child/children?
The learning space itself is one of the most important parts of your homeschooling set up, and you need to decide which room in your home is best suited to focused study (plus, a little fun along the way!).
But did you know that space, environment, and atmosphere can have a huge impact on things like attention span and retention of information? It’s true: in one study, having space to move around the room actually helped students concentrate, because they felt physically at ease in their surroundings.
So, where possible, establish your homeschool classroom in a large space, with plenty of scope for walking around, sitting on the floor, and rearranging the desk if needed.
Of course, setting up a dedicated learning space is also key — it might sound like the sofa is the ideal place to feel ‘physically at ease’, but you’re much more likely to struggle with a wandering mind.
Instead, select a location that is separate from toys, TV, and other recreational things. This helps get your child into the learning zone, and maintains the much-needed formality of an educational environment.
You should also make a list of all the practical necessities you may need to purchase, such as a desk, a blackboard, and an internet-connected computer. Then, you’ll want to create lots of empty wall space for things like notice boards, agendas, schedules, and completed work.
What learning style does your child have?
Many parents choose to homeschool as it empowers them to tailor lessons specifically to their child; teaching the material in a way that suits their learning style best.
But before you get to that stage, you need to work out which of the four learning styles your child prefers. There are plenty of quick and easy tests to take online and — depending on your child’s age — either they can answer the questions with you by their side, or you can complete the questionnaire based on your experience of how they react to various stimuli so far in life.
Once you know, you can start to think ahead to how you’ll shape your curriculum, lessons and activities to support their natural learning approach.
For example, visual learners like to see a lesson brought to life through pictures and other visual tools. If your child is a visual learner then you’ll want to invest in books and worksheets with many charts, graphs, and diagrams to help them retain new information.
On the other hand, auditory learners work best when hearing information rather than seeing it. But that doesn’t mean you should speak at them for hours on end. Instead, get them to repeat and recite what you’ve learned in the class so far.
Next up are the reading/writing learners. These kids, as you’d imagine, learn best when reading and writing things down. There’s something about the act of moving a pen or pencil across paper that helps them remember what they’ve learned — indeed, if you’ve ever had to jot down a reminder in your diary or planner, then you’ll know how that feels!
The fourth learning style is kinesthetic. Don’t let the jargone confuse you, this one is simple too: kinesthetic learner learns by doing. If your child is a kinesthetic learner then you should aim for all your lessons to be interactive, with lots of activities, puzzles, and worksheets to test their understanding.
Armed with this new insight, your homeschool lessons will be landing better than ever before.
Now you simply need to work out when you’ll hold your classes…
What schedule should you set yourself?
Making — and sticking — to a class schedule is crucial, particularly in the beginning. Creating a routine helps differentiate between ‘school’ and ‘home’ time, and is overall easier for you, as the teacher, to manage.
The good news is that it absolutely does not take 6-8 hours a day to homeschool your kids. While kids might spend this long at public school, a large part of the school day is spent waiting, playing, eating, or moving from class to class. Without the need for any of this, you can cut your time down significantly.
To begin, define your child’s learning goals. Then create a plan based on achieving them. Decide what lessons you will focus on day-to-day, how many lessons your child needs, and how many breaks you’ll take throughout the day.
Of course, you can decide to follow the traditional 5-day teaching week or break it down in different ways.
Remember, the point of homeschooling is flexibility. Sticking to a schedule is important, but you should feel free to set, and adapt, your approach to suit the needs of your family. Learning from your experiences and using them to teach more effectively is an important part of how to homeschool.
Is ‘homework’ a good idea in homeschool?
Because of the nature of homeschooling, technically all schoolwork becomes homework! However, it’s worth considering whether extra tasks, outside of the formal lesson times, are a good idea, and if so how to go about setting them.
Plenty of parents are concerned about homework overload, but still feel children need time outside of class to process what they have learned. So here’s the secret: homework doesn’t have to be extra work set by the teacher to make up for a lack of time.
Correctly done, homework should be about reinforcing the lessons of the day and helping kids retain what they have learned. This can be done in many ways, including:
- Educational games.
- Coming up with questions instead of answering them.
- Creative projects like drawing or writing.
Essentially, homework should be an opportunity for your child to practice and demonstrate what they have learned, without your assistance. It shouldn’t be an overload of extra tasks, nor should it be used to make up for things not addressed during lesson time.
Instead, it should help teach responsibility, time management, and independent thinking.
What homeschool laws and regulations do you need to know about?
The laws and regulations surrounding homeschooling are varied and differ enormously from state to state.
Some states take a very hands-off approach, while others are far more rigorous, and require regular reporting. It is vitally important to check your state’s Department of Education website for the most up-to-date laws about homeschooling.
Make sure you know whether you need to advise your local superintendent in advance and provide plans or attendance records. It’s also important to learn ahead of time what testing will be required by law.
What homeschool difficulties can you expect, and how do you combat them?
Socialization and isolation. These are two of the biggest concerns for parent-educators who homeschool. So how do you make sure your homeschooled child gets all the social time they need to make friends and learn valuable soft skills?
Extra-curricular activities, such as group sports, are important to figure into your weekly schedule. As are outings for Boy Scouts, music classes, and other after-school clubs to ensure that your child maintains healthy relationships and learns how to socialize well.
And guess what? Socialization and isolation can be a problem for homeschooling parents as well!
That’s why you should consider joining a local homeschool group. Beyond providing regular meetups, these support systems can be a wonderful network for advice and ideas on how to homeschool. Here, you’ll be able to build friendships with people who understand exactly what you’re going through.
Lastly, you may struggle with teaching the more difficult subjects — such as algebra, and advanced chemical compounds. And whilst you want to deliver the best for your child, you don’t need to be an expert in everything.
When the time comes, utilize external resources and don’t be afraid to ask for help from those more experienced. Our catalog contains thousands of worksheets, on topics ranging from mathematics, to world history, and religious education. With a Premium subscription, you can download and adapt any of our worksheets — so you get all the flexibility of homeschooling, without the stress of designing your own lesson plans.
What’s more, we’re always updating our blog with the best homeschool tips and insights. If you’re ever stuck for an answer, we’ll try to help you there.
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Link will appear as How to homeschool: The key considerations and practical things you need to be aware of: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, March 20, 2020