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Have you decided to take the jump?
You know, the one into the unpredictable world of homeschooling, where every other seemingly normal parent looks at you like you’re crazy when you tell them that YOU are the one teaching your kids? Who does that? Don’t we give birth to children for them to be raised by the traditional school system?
All sarcasm aside, maybe you have made that quality choice. Or maybe you’re still mulling the idea over in your mind. Maybe you want to start homeschooling but:
- you are scared or unsure of your own capabilities
- you don't know what level of interest, if any, your children have in school
- you have no idea where to start; after all, you're not a teacher!
If any of the above is true for you, then you’ve come to the right place. I have written this post with you in mind, so keep on reading.
It’s All About Your Mindset
Right off the bat, I want you to know that you can do it. Of course, me writing that is not enough to keep you going through the hard days. The only way you will keep teaching through the difficult times is when you know your why.
Why is it that you want to spend time teaching your children? Why is it that you are willing to put aside other goals, and set your children’s education as such a high priority? Why are you concerned about who teaches the children in your care and how they learn?
All things are possible once you find your why. When you need to wake up early, stay up late, work through your child’s tantrums, or miss your favourite T.V show to study curriculum, your why will power you through. Trust me, this tip is the hardest part of the whole process...but once you find your why, you can't and won't be stopped.
The Practical Necessities
Do not feel intimidated if you don’t have some type of paper recognizing you as a licensed educator. Your children or the children in your care are learning something from you every day. When you are homeschooling, you are planning what they are going to learn ahead of time and focusing their learning opportunities.
To plan properly, you need to acquire practical resources, such as age-appropriate curriculum, books, and programs that you feel will spark your children’s interest. Observe the children in your care, note their strengths and challenges, and then plan to facilitate learning opportunities that will help them develop. Keep in mind - it's not all book learning! You should plan lots of activities and independent learning time for your children.
Set Flexible, Realistic Expectations
Nothing will burn you out faster than setting unrealistic expectations. (I mean, that's true for life as well, right? Why wouldn't it be true for school?) Realize that every day is different. There are some days where your children will be completely cooperative, and there will be some days where everything goes haywire. So right now, make the commitment to be flexible. Staying flexible will not only help you as an adult to increase your patience, but will also teach you how to make the most of each daily opportunity. When the children in your care see you handle a stressful day with positivity and calm, it will help them make the same quality choice in their life.
Because the truth is: hardly anything works out exactly the way we plan it.
Another key point is to set realistic expectations, both for your teaching abilities and for the children in your care. Do not try to rush the process. Learning takes time and repetition, and sometimes the same lesson in different environments or through a variety of methods. Be gracious to your child and to yourself.
Choose Your Method
There are essentially three approaches to homeschooling. You can either choose an inquiry-driven and student led method, or you can choose a regulated, curriculum-driven teaching model. The third option is a mix of both of these.
It is most important that you choose the method that works best for you and the children in your care. Some children do better with a more free-flowing, student-led curriculum, while others need the order and solid routine that comes with a regulated curriculum. If you are undecided, try one for a couple months and then change and try another one. Or perhaps use a certain method for the subjects where it would be most needed. Do not be afraid of trial and error; the process will help you grow.
Check That Attitude!
Reflection is your best friend as you delve into the world of homeschooling. Check in with the children in your care and find out what they like and dislike about homeschooling. Children tend to be more attentive to the teacher when they feel that they are being heard.
Additionally, do regular self-reflections to make sure that you are not feeling overwhelmed. If you find yourself drowning under waves of doubt, check out this next tip.
There’s nothing quite as comforting as finding your tribe; your people who are with you, who know what it's like to do what you are doing. Reach out to your local community to find homeschooling groups. Along with the positive support available, you will be able to use resources and glean advice from people who are in the same boat as you, trying to do the best they can for their children.
Build and Utilize Local Resources
Check in with your local resources such as the library, town hall, police department, historical sites, grocery stores, farmers markets, banks, museums, conservation parks etc. Not only are these great locations for field trips, but if you make friends with the staff, these can be places where your children secure their first jobs and find more positive role models.
One Last Piece of Advice
As humans, we are hard-wired for creativity. We dull down our power when we quit trying to think outside the box. So, my last piece of advice?
Go for it! Throw yourself into it completely. You will be surprised at the success you and your child can have when you curate an educational experience designed specifically for them.
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