Lately I have been getting a lot of questions about homeschooling. Some families are still waiting to see what their school is planning for the fall, others would rather not have their child wearing a mask all day, some schools have already announced virtual schooling for next year, and then there are families that like the idea of flexible schedules and more control of the content of the education. Whatever the reason, homeschooling is trending, in fact, the state of South Carolina’s school website crashed recently because so many parents were filling out the letter with the notice of intent to homeschool!
We have been homeschooling for 10 years now, our oldest daughter just graduated, and we have 4 kids to go. I would like to share with you some homeschooling basics. I will also be listing some great resources at the end of the blog for more information. The thing about homeschooling is that because it is so individualized, what works for us may not work for you, and vice versa. But that is also the beauty of homeschooling – an education tailored to your family’s needs and your child’s individual strengths and weaknesses. I hope these tips are helpful to your family as you find your particular homeschooling style.
Tip#1. Relax, perfection is not required
Try your best, of course. Be perfect, no, because you can’t. I always try to remember that we all have strengths and weaknesses. One child may excel at Math and hate English, and that’s ok. They still have to learn to multiply and use correct grammar, but they don’t have to be perfect.
This goes for the parents too. Somedays I will get up, have prayer/Bible reading time and drink my coffee before anyone is awake and I feel like supermom. On other days, my five-year old is tapping my face and telling me she is starving, so I roll out of bed mumbling while I pour her a bowl of cereal.
This goes for curriculum too. They all will have things that you love and things you don’t love. None are perfect in my opinion. I will talk more about curriculum in a bit.
This goes for your “classroom” as well. If you have the space designated for classroom use, awesome! If not, it will be ok. You would be surprised at the environments in which a person can learn.
If you deal with being a perfectionist, as I sometimes do, practice telling yourself to relax. Be diligent – yes, perfect – no. I know that I’m not doing anybody any favors by being a psycho.
Tip#2. Homeschooling can build relationships and character
If you take this homeschool journey, you will find new ways to work through problems with your kiddos. This can be awesome and it can be really hard. Let’s just talk about Math, for example. Math is a challenge, and it is supposed to teach us how to figure out things we don’t at first understand – important critical thinking skills. While working through this process, the child can also learn how to deal with frustration without freaking out – that’s an important life skill. The parent, in turn, can learn patience and practice kindness – an important life skill. (Our society could use a lesson in these virtues)
When you work through difficult things with your children, you grow closer because you have worked together towards a common goal. Even when I have lost my patience and turned to anger in response to my child’s frustration, I have found that I can turn it into a moment of reconciliation if I humble myself and admit my mistake. None of this is easy, but in the end, I am so glad for the priviledge of teaching my own children, a big part of that is the relationship we have with each other.
Try to remember that you are their parent and their teacher, what they need most from you is love and reassurance, your skills for diagramming sentences and solving math problems are secondary. They will remember how you taught them far more than what you taught them.
Tip#3. You don’t have to know everything.
I have heard from many moms that feel unqualified to teach their own child. I understand this, it can be intimidating. There is the thought that you have to know everything about every subject, but you don’t. In this information age, if you don’t know something, chances are, you can find someone who does. Let’s talk resources.
- Local homeschool groups – homeschool families working together for support, some offer music opportunities like choir and band, some offer sports or p.e., some do co-ops where a specific topic is taught by someone that specializes in that area(like algebra, home ec, or biology), often field trips are planned
- Video lessons – some curriculums offer full class-like videos and can be a good option for a subject you don’t feel qualified to teach or if your child just learns better through listening.
- Online classes – from online tutoring like Kahn Academy to full class options
I have found that if you can teach your child the basics, like reading, and then point them in the right direction, you will be amazed at what they teach themselves and their individual giftings and talents will shine through. I have one child that absolutely loves to read, and she will soak up new information like a sponge, she is an avid studier of the Bible and History. I have another child that hates to read, and does the bare minimum, only when forced, but this child has the habit of picking up new instruments and teaching themselves to play. I have another child that really dislikes Math, but is extremely gifted in organizational skills and loves art.
These individual skills that they have learned have nothing to do with any area of expertise that I have. They have just developed in an environment that encourages learning and a freedom to fail and try again. I have required the basics, and the curriculum we use teaches that, but the rest is up to them.
Tip#4. Routine is important.
Flexibility and fun are a big part of homeschooling, and sometimes it is difficult to maintain a routine. This is not exciting, but when you put in the hours, day in and day out, they learn. When you work through those math problems, listen to your first grader painfully sound out each word while they learn to read, review those history facts over and over again, drill those prepositions and adjectives, and diligently work at the boring monotonous side of school, they learn. It is sometimes exhausting, and sometimes boring, this homeschooling life, but I have found that learning takes time, and that’s ok.
Tip#5. Fieldtrips and fun, yay!
To offset the everyday, sometimes monotonous routine of homeschooling, go exploring with your kids! There is so much to see and do! Go to the park, go to the library, go to a museum, take a factory tour, take a hike, go places you’ve never been before, return to places you loved as a kid, the opportunities are endless!
If you and your kids need a fun day, put aside your normal work and do art projects together. I am convinced that art is for everyone, and the more you draw or paint, the better you will get. Or spend the day trying new science experiments.
Sometimes we will have a fun/lazy day and watch history documentaries and “how it’s made” shows. This is rare, but a nice break.
Tip#6. Rewards and Consequences
Give your kids something to work towards. For some kids, that good grade is enough, they are driven to succeed and enjoy that sense of accomplishment. For other kids, the last thing on their mind is grades, they could care less about their school accomplishments and all they want to do is play and maybe watch t.v. I can’t make my kids love their school work, but I can give them incentives to finish it and give them consequences if they don’t.
Here are some ideas:
- Develop a “merit system” using play money that they can spend on prizes monthly or quarterly
- Reward speedy, quality work
- Reward good attitudes
- Develop a consequence system for unfinished work or bad behavior(for example, no t.v. until work is completed, no phone for bad behavior, etc.)
Tip#7. Teach what is important
What is the most important thing to you? Teach that to your kids. Teaching my kids about Jesus is the most important thing I can do. The Bible is the most important truth I can teach my kids. This reflects in the curriculum we use, how we choose to spend our time, and (through God’s grace) how we treat each other. Make Jesus the most important, and everything else will fall into place.
Thank you for reading along in this blog about homeschooling basics, I hope it has been helpful to you. I pray that you enjoy your new homeschooling journey!
If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministry.org
Here are some links to super helpful info about homeschooling:
Indiana Association of Home Educators (This website is super helpful for Indiana folks!)
Curriculum we use: Accelerated Christian Education
Other Curriculum options and other homeschool info: Great Homeschool Conventions
Homeschool legal defense association ( I recommend joining, it’s affordable and will help you to be aware of any requirements in your state, etc.)