Tips for New Homeschoolers
Are you new to homeschooling this year?
Lots of families are deciding to opt out of the public and private education systems and become full-fledged homeschoolers, while others are joining microschools where everyone contributes to learning. Either way, these are big steps and it’s completely normal to feel confused. What standards do we need to meet? What can we do to tailor academics to better fit your family’s learning and living styles? What about socializing?
There are lots of questions swirling around! Here are a few tips on getting started with homeschooling. But remember, one of the many wonderful things about homeschooling is that it’s a very individual experience. The right way for some might not be the right way for you. Be flexible, listen to your kids, and above all, have fun!
How is homeschooling different from remote learning?
Last spring, many of us found ourselves navigating the tricky waters of remote learning, distance learning, online learning – whatever your school district called it. While some students managed to do fine, even thrive, many others really suffered.
Keep in mind that homeschooling is very different from remote learning. With homeschooling, you are your child’s teacher, administrator, guidance counselor, and office personnel. There’s no schedule to follow beyond the one you devise. There’s no need to email teachers to inquire where the grades are listed. There are no follow-up phone calls to ensure homework was turned it.
For many families, this means much less stress! It’s also an amazing opportunity to spend more time with your kids and explore the world together.
What do I need to do to establish a homeschool?
You’ll want to check out the homeschooling laws in your state. Depending on where you live, you may be required to submit a notice of intent, your plan for the school year, the curriculum you’ll be using, your methods of evaluating and reporting, and many other details. It can be overwhelming, but there’s help. There are homeschool groups in every state where people are eager to share their knowledge. Spend some time searching on the web, and if you are on social media, search those platforms. It won’t be long before you find a community.
How do I decide what to teach?
Beyond the basics of math, reading, writing, science, and history, you’ve got an incredible chance to be inspired by the world around you. Take a topic that’s on the news channels and turn it into a lesson. Talking about the pandemic? Learn how disease spreads and what scientists can do to find vaccines and treatments. Hearing a lot about the Black Lives Matter protests? Take a look at the Civil Rights Era and the history of race in the United States and dive deep into a civics lesson.
Your kids will naturally find opportunities for teaching and learning. Kids are curious, and tend to have questions about everything under the sun. Use that curiosity to guide them in research, the scientific method, the engineering design method, and the fine art of interviewing!
Do I always need to stick to a plan?
Veteran homeschoolers will tell you that flexibility is key. That’s a major benefit of homeschooling. Are your kids especially distracted today? Did they struggle to sleep last night and are now struggling to stay awake? Be prepared to listen to the needs of your students and pivot toward what works. Maybe it’s a good day for a hike. Maybe it’s a great day for a long talk about things that might be worrying them. The important thing is, you can make the choice.
What kind of space does my child need for learning?
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to create a schoolroom in your home or purchase expensive curriculum for your kids. Sure, they should be able to sit and work someplace comfortable with plenty of light and few distractions, but most families are able to accommodate this easily without a shopping trip. And in terms of learning resources—there are many companies selling expensive, ready-made curriculum, but you probably have a lot of what you need at home in the form of games, books, art supplies, and educational apps. And you can find even more of what you need at the library. When you come across something specific that would make your homeschooling life more enriched, you can make that thoughtful purchase. Not only are you saving money, you’re showing your kids that learning happens everywhere and is available to anyone.
We wish you well on your homeschooling journey! And don’t forget, books from Nomad Press are proven tools in homeschoolers around the world!
Try this great homeschooling resource!
Nomad Press books are perfect for homeschooling! Take a look at this sample chapter from Planet Earth for kids 9 to 12. Including a sample activity!