Tuesday, October 21, 2014

30 Helpful Tips for New Homeschoolers from Experienced Homeschoolers

     First of all, a great big THANK YOU to the lovely homeschooling mothers who contributed their bits of wisdom to this list!  I am so fortunate to be part of some fabulous online support groups.  And these women are there to help each other and share their experiences.  The following is a list of advice or tips they gave for newbie homeschoolers.  We are hoping that others can learn from past mistakes or have some luck by borrowing another's wisdom.  If you have any more tips and/or suggestions that might help, please leave it as a comment.  THANK YOU!

  • 1.  "Don't wait until just before a holiday to check out books from the library regarding that holiday.  The good books may be all checked out for the month."

    2.  "Do not buy a used curriculum without finding out all the details, like if it requires supplemental workbooks, or if it requires an online account that can only be used once."

    3.  "Don't spend money on curriculum before you check to see if anyone you know - friends, other homeschoolers, someone online, your library - has a copy you could look over and 'try before you buy."

    4.  "Find out your child's learning style and THEN buy curriculum. Just because it works for someone else's child doesn't mean it will work for your child. 

    5.  "If your library let's you reserve books online and pick them up at the drive through window take advantage of it, I do this and it works perfectly! We can go into the library and let the kids choose their choices and not be worried about locating the books we need for our lessons." 
  • 6.  "Just because you like a curriculum one year doesn't mean you will like using it the next. You may change after summer break, the curriculum may change due to the advancing of grade levels, you may find something you like better, your extra curricular so may not allow you the same amount of time, you may have more kids that can share curriculum than you had the year before and they may need something they can share better, or the publishers may change things under your nose (k12 anybody?)." 

    7.  "Make sure you budget time before school starts to research things and have what you want well in advance of when you plan to start school because it will take more time than you think to get what you want and even then it may not be what you really want and you may need to change."

  • 8.  "You don't have to have the same schedule as the public school kids."

  • 9.  "Your home gets messier, because you live there more....just turn cleaning into a consistent routine so it doesn't pile up crazy...even if it seems like you don't get very much done in one day...keep going."

  • 10.  "Consider donating something from your curriculum that you really like to your library, and maybe also something you don't want anymore, and encourage others to do the same, if your library will take them. That way if a few people donate a few things and keep it going, eventually there will be a good place to reference new materials so you can get a really good grip on what the stuff is like before you have to buy it. It gets expensive buying things only to find out you can't/won't use it, even if the stuff is cheap, it adds up and takes up space and gets frustrating."

    11.  "It's important to know what works for your family. Some of that is just trial and error. I'm thinking mostly about homeschooling philosophy and how your family works together. There are so many ways to do things that you have to find what works for you - just like parenting. It's not a 'one size fits all' deal. It'll be different for every family and even for every child."
  • 12.  "Try to buy on ebay to get good prices. The math curriculum I got ended up having one of the books messed up. It had pages that were duplicated, and some pages were missing. So not always a good deal!"

  • 13.  "101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum is the #1 book that helped me the first year of homeschooling."

  • 14.  "Don't worry SO MUCH about a curriculum! Your kids will learn whether you want them to or not, and whether you have everything mapped out and organized or not   You will figure out a curriculum later on, or as you go."

  • 15.  "Pray. Pray about your decision. Pray for your kids. Pray to know how to best met there needs. Pray about curriculum choices. Pray about styles (unschooling vs. Structure ect) to use when teaching your kids. Pray."

  • 16.  "Talk and read.... talk to other homeschooling moms, read homeschool blogs and books and as you do those prayers will be answered. Listen for the still small voice that will guide."

  • 17.  "Take time to detox, plan on taking MONTHS off "school" and then get started with whatever form of education you feel is best...when you are all ready and have a solid foundation. Get to really know your kids. Play with each other, clean together as a family, pray together!"

    18.  "It is normal to have bad days. There will be days when it seems like hardly anything got done, but they are still learning! There is down time in school & days when a substitute just shows a movie, so it is ok for you to do the same occasionally."
  • 19.  "Don't stress about whether or not they are making progress. No matter how you homeschool, (or how badly you think you are failing) they ARE progressing."

    20.  "There are gaps in every education. Homeschooling lets you choose where they are."
  • 21.  "Don't mess with early academics until they've learned to read and write. Bookwork is a lot easier when you don't have to read aloud every single lesson. Until then, explore the world and learn through play."

  • 22.  "You'll likely not have to really teach a kid to read. Read to them, sound things out as you read, point to words. They'll be ecstatic when they break the code and will be full of self confidence that they "did it themselves," which they did...with love and only guidance from you. Let them score the big points. It will keep them curious and bold."

  • 23.  "Try not to take credit for 'teaching them' things. Say things like, 'He learned...,' 'He found...,' or 'She researched...'  When you give them credit for their work, they'll have a vested interest in taking responsibility for working. It's like their pay."

    24.  "There's nothing wrong with taking a day off now and then to work together and get the house back in some semblance of order if you need to."

  • 25.  "I would add that you don't have to use a curriculum. If you want to, that's cool, but another good way is to just use books, movies, and explore the real world through your children's interests."

  • 26.  "Take other's advice lightly, do what works best for your own children."

    27.  "Try to refrain from scheduling the week full of extra curriculars and classes, leaving little to no room to explore."

    28.  "Make sure your Tuesdays are free. It seems that everything in the home school world happens on a Tuesday."

    29.  "If you are having discontent in the home (ex: disrespect, power struggles, fighting, disobedience, etc), stop trying to push academics or a curriculum.  Take time to assess what is happening in your home and repair the bond between you and your child or spouse.  Your relationship with your family is the most important thing.  There is no point in trying to teach your child when they do not respect you or if they are not happy.  They won't retain any information that way."

    30.  "You're not a school--don't try to be."