Preparing to Homeschool: What You Need to Know
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You’ve made the decision to teach your children at home but now you face the daunting task of preparing to homeschool.
Perhaps you’re absolutely certain this is the right decision for your family, or perhaps you’re not.
Even if you are sure (like I am) it can still be overwhelming knowing where to focus your time and energy when trying to prepare to start the homeschool year.
What do you need to know?
What does your child need to know?
Are you gonna mess it all up?
They’re all fair questions, but the truth is that you don’t need to worry nearly as much as you probably are.
Read on to find out what you should focus on while preparing to homeschool so that you can stop stressing and instead enjoy the process.
10 Tips for Successful Homeschooling
There are lots of ways that you can start preparing to homeschool, but the 10 things listed below are what I personally found really helpful to know about.
#1 Decide What Style of Homeschooling You Want
This isn’t a new thing really, but homeschooling “styles” have only recently been defined.
I was homeschooled and I know that it wasn’t really a thing back then to talk about what style of homeschoolers you are.
While I don’t think you should feel pressured to put yourself in a box, it can definitely be helpful to know about the most common styles of homeschooling.
You may find that you can relate to one in particular and can base your future curriculum and resource research around that.
This post from Simply Charlotte Mason gives a good overview of the 5 most common styles of homeschooling.
While our family is just in its infancy of homeschooling, I will say that I personally don’t fit into any one box at this stage and would definitely be considered a bit eclectic in my approach.
There is no right or wrong here…just helpful information.
#2 Know that Things Will Change
The beauty of homeschooling is that it is not just a learning experience for the child, but for the entire family.
How you begin homeschooling and the style in which you do it will almost certainly change as the years go on.
Your situation changes as your child grows and you add more students into the mix. You naturally are going to have to adapt to the situation that you’re faced with.
Over time you will get better acquainted with the learning style of each of your children and that may change how you do things.
Homeschooling is something that can be changed and adapted and it is almost inevitable that you will do just that as time goes on.
#3 Be Realistic
I’ve always known we were going to homeschool our children and it never really scared me.
I think that’s because I saw my own mom do it and so I knew that it was possible with enough hard work, dedication, and love in the mix.
However, when faced with the thought of teaching my son, I quickly became overwhelmed.
It is a big responsibility.
So be realistic. Expect setbacks and changes.
Understand that children are not robots and they all learn at their own pace. What you envision happening may not happen.
Take each school day as it comes and start out slowly.
If you’re starting homeschooling with a kindergartener or preschooler, definitely take it slow.
They learn best through play anyway, so be realistic with how much you’re expecting of them.
#4 Be Open
As was mentioned above, homeschooling is something that looks different in every family and can change many times over.
For that reason stay open.
Be open to new ideas that may help and encourage your child as they learn.
Just because you did it one way with one of your children doesn’t mean it is the only way.
#5 Do Research
We are SO privileged to have so much information at our fingertips. When I was homeschooled my mom largely depended on books and personal recommendations when it came to curriculum.
We now have access to Youtube and the rest of the internet to find wholesome and comprehensive curriculum and resource reviews.
Take full advantage of that and do your research.
Don’t feel as though you have to commit to something just because everyone else is.
Do your research and choose what fits best for your family.
Another thing to note about curriculum…don’t feel as though you have to use one curriculum for every subject.
You can totally mix things up and have fun picking out what works best for your child.
Really, you don’t have to use a curriculum at all if you don’t wish to. I personally appreciate the peace of mind I get from knowing all the relevant info is in one place, but I know that other moms are more than capable of creating their own study units.
#6 Find Community
This isn’t to address the number one thing all homeschoolers get asked (What about socialisation?! *eye roll*)
However, finding a community of some sort or another is so helpful just from a support standpoint.
Knowing that you’re not alone in the struggles that are unique to homeschooling can be of real benefit.
Plus, you can often exchange knowledge and resources for the benefit of everyone in the group.
#7 Be Intentional
If you’re going to homeschool, then homeschool. Be intentional about it.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t evaluate your child for whether or not its the right choice for them every now and again. However, homeschooling can be challenging.
For that reason, it is important to commit to it for at least a timeframe so that you can give it a proper go.
If you’re just going to try it out without any kind of commitment, you’ll be likely to stop as soon as the first bump in the road comes up.
#8 Face Your Fears
We all have our fears about homeschooling our kids.
Will they learn what they need to? Will you be patient enough?
Will they turn out weird? How the heck are you going to be enough for them?
I get it.
While fears are normal, it is also important to face them. Own them and then tackle them with confidence.
If you know that you struggle in a certain area then dedicate time and attention to it so that you can grow stronger.
Homeschooling isn’t just about building the character of your child. It is most certainly going to be character building for you as well.
#9 Read All the Things
Know what your plan is for your children and their education.
If I’m honest, this part scares me a little because I don’t know all the little details, but you don’t really have to.
Do you want your kids to be independent learners? Then read about how to foster that trait.
Do you want your children to have an appreciation of the arts? If that’s the case, find resources that will encourage it.
We have no end of available resources when it comes to teaching our children. Take the time to read and glean from all the knowledge available to you.
#10 Get Ready to Track Your Child’s Progress
While it is wonderful to plan things out (trust me, I love doing it), sometimes it isn’t always helpful.
You see, when homeschool days fall apart or there’s a disruption to the schedule, it can be easy to feel as though you’re failing.
So here’s a tip that I’ve seen several homeschool moms mention.
First of all, have a basic plan. If you know how much work you want your child to complete in a year, note that down.
However, instead of focusing on what there is to do, start tracking what they’ve done.
It is like ticking off a to-do list and I promise you’ll find it satisfying.
It’ll also give you a nice visual of how your child is tracking along in specific subjects and where they may need a little more work.
Preparing to homeschool should be a fun process. It is a time to glean and explore all the knowledge that there is out there and decide what is going to work best for your family.
If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, stop and just evaluate what you’ve already got. Remember, you can always change things up as you go.