Giving your little ones the best start in life is something every parent strives for.
And when it comes to giving them the skills that will set them up for life, there’s nothing more important than formal education. But with 1.8 million households estimated to be homeschooling their children, parents have more education choices to consider than ever before.
To help you work out whether homeschooling is right for your family, we’re going to take a look at everything there is to know about stepping into the role of teacher.
We’ll cover the pros and cons of homeschooling, from the added flexibility to the compromises you’ll have to make. And, should you decide homeschooling is a good fit, we’ll give you the tools you need — including a lesson plan format — to get you started right away.
Let’s start at the beginning: why homeschool?
If you have a passion for education and want to share it with your child, you might think that homeschooling is the obvious choice. So that you don’t rush to judgement, spend just a couple of minutes taking a look at the pros and cons.
The pros of homeschooling
There are many benefits to teaching your child from home, including:
Customizing your child’s education
If your child has a particular interest in a subject, or a talent they want to explore further, homeschooling gives you the freedom and flexibility to make it happen. It’s a chance to shape the school day so that it becomes something your child really looks forward to.
A flexible classroom setting
It’s not just the curriculum that you can be flexible with when you decide to homeschool, but the setting itself. By giving yourself the freedom to learn outdoors, and in a whole host of other environments, you can spark your child’s creativity, imagination, and love for learning in a way that works best for them.
Optimal learning efficiency
Every child learns differently, which means a lesson plan format which works wonders for one child may not be best suited to another. The great thing about homeschooling is that it allows you to explore different modes of learning — perfect for optimizing the efficiency of your sessions.
Devoting yourself to learning
The public school system does an awful lot right, but there are still plenty of parents and teachers who feel it puts too much emphasis on formal testing. By homeschooling, you can devote far more of your time to actual teaching and learning, rather than teaching your child to score highly on a test.
The cons of homeschooling
Of course, homeschooling isn’t perfect. And there are a number of potential pain-points you should seriously consider before making your decision:
Your first, and most important role, will always be of parent
It can be difficult to balance the roles of teacher and Mom/Dad when homeschooling. You may find yourself becoming overwhelmed or burnt out if you’re not careful, and your child may struggle to adjust to seeing you as a more formal educator authority.
That’s why it’s wise to ease into homeschooling — take regular breaks and remember to save some fun parent-kid bonding time for after school hours.
Reduced household income
With one of you taking time off work to educate the little one(s), you’ll find that your household income takes a little bit of a knock. What’s more, homeschooling your child can work out to be quite expensive indeed. Homeschool programmes can cost a lot of money, and — even if the programme itself isn’t too pricey — the cost of materials can be higher than you’d expect. Budgeting and communicating with your partner will be the key to getting everything set up and working smoothly. And don’t forget to make the most of free worksheets for kids, too.
Understanding your state’s requirements
Every state has a clear set of requirements when it comes to formal education, and as a homeschooler, you’re going to have to follow them. Research them early and check that you understand them so there are no nasty surprises further down the road.
How to prepare for homeschooling
If, after weighing upthe pros and cons, you’ve decided that homeschooling is the right approach, then you’ll need to get preparations underway. Here’s what you’ll need to add to your ‘to do’ list for the next few weeks:
Explore your options
There’s no one way to homeschool — that’s part of the beauty of it! But finding out what options you have available to you will be the first step to take, and will allow you to make an informed decision on the best way forward. (And don’t forget to check your state regulations, too.)
Join a local support group
Connecting with your fellow neighborhood homeschoolers is a great way to get things moving. They’ll be able to offer everything from support and encouragement to curriculum ideas and lesson plan formats.
Choose your curriculum
Working with your child is a great way to get ideas for your curriculum. You want it to be well-rounded so they get a complete education, as well as focused on some of their main interests and talents. Get the balance right and you’ll have a child who can’t wait to start each morning.
Create a designated homeschooling space
Whilst learning on the couch, or in front of the TV, might be your child’s dream, it’s not going to be all that productive. Create a designated space in your home office or study so that when the two of you are in there, your child knows it’s time to pay attention.
Draw up a realistic schedule
Your attention and energy levels will be better earlier in the day, so use this to your advantage when figuring out how to get the most done. You’ll also need to be open-minded and adaptable in the early days as you learn what works and what doesn’t for you and your new student.
Time to get planning: how to create a lesson plan
There’s no hotter topic amongst homeschoolers right now than which lesson plan format to use.
To give you some insights into the best way forward, we’ve used our years of wisdom to break it down for you in 4 easy-to-follow steps.
State your objective
At the start of each lesson the two of you need to be clear on what you’re trying to achieve. Make sure you can write it down in 1-2 sentences so your child knows what you’ll be doing today.
Create an overview
This is the part many new homeschoolers skip. Once you’ve come up with the objective, you need to write down the main steps that will allow you to complete it. Imagine you want to teach them about Mt. Everest: you could start with a list of exciting Everest facts, introduce the accompanying worksheets, and finish with a quick quiz about what they’ve learned.
Be realistic with your timeline
If you’re trying to teach the whole periodic table in a single 2-hour session, you’re probably going to end up disappointed. Create a clear, reasonable and realistic timeline that makes plenty of allowances for questions and explanations.
Make sure it’s interactive
If you plan on giving a nonstop lecture, be prepared for a lot of that information to noto sink in. Take your time, give your child a chance to ask questions, and gently push their understanding every step of the way. KidsKonnect worksheets are a great example of how to do this — by giving your child some new information, closely followed by a relevant worksheet, you can get them to apply what they’ve learned in a way that will really aid understanding.
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