Considering homeschooling for the first time? Overwhelmed? Nervous? Not to worry! I’ve got five helpful suggestions to help you along your way.
How do I know about homeschooling? For six years, I worked as a private teacher for families of high net worth. I worked for entrepreneurs who created an effective dog grooming tool, a retired NFL player, and a contemporary Christian musician. I taught their children all their core subjects, set up field trips, and kept all the records. Two of my students were dyslexic, and so I needed to tailor my teaching in order to fit their learning style. What I’m about to share with you is the fruit of my experience!
#5. Keep It Simple!
While you start out, focus on subjects you find most important. Language arts, math, history, and science are a good place to start. Choose your curricula, get started, and give your family time to adjust to the new pace and routine. Starting out with just the basics will keep you (and your children!) from feeling overwhelmed. You’ll get into a groove, and when you do, add in a “special” or two like a foreign language or art.
#4. Group Your Children
If you have children who are relatively close in age, teach them together! This will save you time and energy. Many homeschool programs are designed for grouping children. A few of my favorites include the chronological history program, The Story of the World, and Spanish for Children by Classical Academic Press. If you have independent readers, let them have the honors of reading aloud the lesson to younger children. They’ll sharpen their reading skills and develop leadership and responsibility. You can adjust the activities that each child does according to his age and ability. Have littles around that aren’t quite school age? Don’t keep them away! They’ll pick up a lot of lesson content just by listening.
#3. Choose Programs That Suit Your Children
How does your child learn best? By listening? Look for programs that involve reading aloud, audio books, or video. Does your child learn by doing? Check out Math U See, a program that uses manipulatives to build/demonstrate concepts, even in algebra! Whenever possible, allow your child to demonstrate his learning in the way that suits him best – projects, demonstrations, reenactments, etc. If your child would be better able to communicate his ideas through dictation, be his scribe or use text-to-speech software like Dragon Dictation. Do what works for YOU and YOUR CHILD!
#2. Ask for Help and Delegate!
Many of the homeschool publishers provide support to anyone who needs it. They are real people, not just nameless and faceless mega-companies. Don’t be afraid to call the publishers of your math program when your child gets stuck on a problem and you can’t help. They want your child to succeed!
There may be times you need additional support. Team up with other local families who have children of similar ages. Share teaching duties for a time. Join a co-op or tutorial. Hire a tutor. Our tutors at Nashville Dyslexia Center can teach reading and spelling to students who have dyslexia or signs of it. Whatever your need is, there are people out there who can help.
#1. Give Yourself Grace
Your first year homeschooling is going to be an adjustment, just like switching schools. Your family’s routine and structure will be completely different. You’re going to have good days and bad. It’s quite possible that the programs you carefully researched and selected will not be the right fit for you or your child. But that’s the beauty of homeschooling – unlike schools, you are NOT locked into a particular approach or publisher! You are going to become an expert on how your child learns and what he needs while you grow closer together as a family. It’s a win-win!
Are you considering homeschooling? What are some programs you’re going to try?