Homeschooling Lessons Learned — Let’s Chat!

Thanks for joining me. I can’t wait to share with you some of the homeschooling lessons I’ve learned over the past 28 years of guiding the (mostly homeschooled) education of my seven children. Bring your favorite drink and a comfy lawn chair and let’s meet at the local park. We can safely social distance there… (Isn’t this a crazy world we are living in right now?!)

So, you are trying to figure out the best school option for your family this year. Maybe you’ve been thinking about trying homeschooling for a while. Or maybe you previously assumed you would always send your kids to public or private schools, but this year’s chaotic plans cause you to consider other options. Here are some things I would say to you over a cup of coffee if we were chatting about whether homeschooling might be a good fit for your family…or not!

Decide what schooling option is best for your family for this year:

First, Identify YOUR family values, schedule availability, passions, interests. Write these down to refer to as you are considering various options.

Next, Decide which type of schooling you prefer this year:

–Obviously, sending your child(ren) to the same setting they were in last year is one option. It will look nothing like “normal” this year, but some districts are offering an in-person track. This might be most attractive for your family, even with the need to adjust to new safety regulations and the risk of sudden changes to school closing and students being back home.

–If you decide the best option for your family is to start the school year with your kids home this year but you still want state certified teachers to be responsible for their education, sign up for an experienced, online charter school rather than local school virtual school. I strongly recommend the k12 experience. We have used them a number of times. They have decades of experience at providing a top-notch online education, rather than expecting individual teachers to throw things together last minute. In addition, k12 provides all the supplies you will need, including a computer and paying for your internet. You can find the national website HERE. From there, you can find links to the k12 public charter school in your state.

–If you want to “do school” at home, purchase a full, traditional curriculum. You can even choose to purchase teacher’s manuals for all subjects, which tell you exactly what to say. I often ordered curriculum resources (of all kinds) from Rainbow Resource. They offer individual books, full curriculums, supplemental materials, and unit studies, usually at a discount. They have excellent customer service, as well. Find them HERE.

family reading, homeschooling lessons learned

–If you want to follow family/individual interests/passions, use unit studies. This style of learning also makes it easier to teach multiple children at the same time. Making prep easier for the teacher (ME!) is a key homeschooling lesson I learned! With unit studies, all your students study the same broad topic, with separate activities chosen based on their current levels and preferred learning styles. Most subjects are included (depending on the unit study curriculum you choose). Generally, you will need separate math books for each child since that is harder to combine different levels at the same time. I bought a unit study curriculum for the first few years we used this approach. Eventually, I realized similar activities were offered for each unit, so I wrote my own curriculum based on our family’s specific interests. (Word to the wise: do NOT try to do all the offered activities for any given unit!! There are usually far more than anyone could fully cover. Pick and choose the ones that will work best for YOUR children.)

To read more about interest focused learning, read about alternatives we have used with our youngest daughter HERE and HERE

For excellent reviews of several Unit Study Curriculums, click HERE.

I hear you. Yes, the idea of homeschooling your kids can be very intimidating. We live in a culture that tells us we need experts to do anything well. But there are thousands of families like ours whose children have gone on to successful college and adulthood.  If homeschooling still sounds like an intriguing option for your family, please check my post about Homeschooling Myths (and misunderstandings) HERE. Take your time… I’ll wait…

Welcome back! Ready to hear a few more tips based on the homeschooling lessons I’ve learned over many years? Let’s go!

Objections/Barriers to Homeschooling

Remember, You know YOUR child(ren) best. You as parents make decisions about food, activities, and health. You know YOUR kids and you consult experts for help in these areas if/when needed. Education is no different! You can provide an education based on your child’s unique strengths and interests. And with individual attention, your child can better learn to overcome challenges.

Past negative experiences helping w homework is NOT the same as homeschooling! Guiding your child’s education at home is SO much easier than dealing with homework! Really! Think about it! Homework assigned by a school teacher means: Your kid is exhausted at end of the day. You have no clue how the teacher presented the material or what they want (and your child often reminds you of this). Finally, most homework is simply busy work!

“I’m not patient enough to homeschool” This is the second most common reason I hear parents give as to why they can’t homeschool. (Questions about socialization come first. See the Homeschooling Myths link above if you didn’t already read that post.) Perhaps one of the following responses will give you a clearer perspective on this objection: Neither is any other parent!! Homeschooling is an opportunity to work on healthier relationships with your kids. And/or, homeschooling becomes a tool for personal growth for you!

Other Barriers that you are worrying about? Add a comment below and I’ll try to answer your concerns, based on my personal experience.

So, you’ve decided to give homeschooling a try. Great! Let me share a few tips to help you RELAX as you start making plans. (Pssst! It’s perfectly normal if you are nervous about taking the leap. Starting new adventures is always a bit scary…)

relax, lounging in chair, reading

Getting Started with Homeschooling…

RELAX! – you can do this!

You got to this point in raising your kids, I’m certain you can do this, too! If you aren’t yet convinced, review the objections and myths discussed above…

RELAX! – academic instruction/learning is not a heavy burden

–Guidelines for instruction time: “recommendations from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards say that elementary students should have 1-2 hours a day of online instruction, middle school students 2-3 hours, and high school students 3-4 hours.” Find an article about this HERE.

–Guidelines for attention spans between active breaks: “Research suggests a simple rule for figuring out how long children can stay focused: Multiply the child’s age by 2-5 minutes. So, if a child is 4 years old, he or she will be able to focus for 8 to 20 minutes, maximum.”

RELAX! – no need to mimic public school!

–Let your students go at the pace and on a schedule that works for them. Pay attention to if they (and the family as a whole) are most effective to do academics in the morning or later in the day. Some prefer to power through all academics, then pursue interests. Others prefer to intersperse fun with study.

–Body position doesn’t really matter. Let your students work in whatever position helps them be most productive. For some, that will be sitting at desks. Others will prefer gathering as a family around a table. And some of our kids will do best being allowed to lounge, even hanging upside down occasionally! (Yes, I really did have one student who preferred to lay upside down from the chair, holding the book in front of her face!)

RELAX! – free time is crucial for actual learning!

  • students need free time to process and practice what they are learning
  • free time promotes personal and educational growth
  • free time allows space for rest, creativity, and experimentation

There are links to two helpful articles about this controversial subject HERE and HERE.

I’m so glad we could take time to chat about the possibility of homeschooling for your family. What’s that? You need more information about the nuts and bolts of getting started? I don’t need to take more of your time sharing my personal experiences to explain that information. I’ll simply put a few links below.

You know, I always like to cheer on other families. I would love to hear your family’s story. Please comment on this post and let me know how you are doing.

For a list of legal requirements related to homeschooling in each State, click HERE:

For how to get started with homeschooling in Ohio, including free printable forms, click HERE. (other states should have similar sites)

Best Wishes as you start your newest adventure!

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