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It’s that time of year again when you find yourself perusing the school supplies aisles of Target looking for pink pearl erasers, number 2 pencils, and the most perfect pencil case. Yes, I’m talking about school supplies!
At this time, more and more parents are considering homeschooling their children instead of sending them back to school. This is a very important decision and there are lots of things to consider.
First of all: I just want to say that I am proud of you for being here and wanting to learn more about homeschooling!
As a homeschooling mama myself, I would like to suggest a few of the many things you should consider. I hope you find this helpful as you trek further on this adventure!
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Okay, I have decided to homeschool my child. Where do I start?
It can be overwhelming. Trust me, I know. It may feel like you need to have it all figured out right now. If you’re like me, some of the questions you might be asking and seeking answers to are: Where do I start? Where can I go for resources and information? What questions should I even be asking?
Know this: You are not alone. There are tons of resources out there, and many of them will seem amazing! And some won’t. But the beautiful thing about homeschooling is you get to decide what is right for you (the learning leader), your child, and your family. While that may seem like an immense task, just know that whatever you decide is right for your family. You’ve got this!
Consider your learning space
A child’s learning space is an important consideration. You need to decide what type of learning environment you are wanting to create.
Are you wanting to make sure that there is a separation between family life and school life? Or would you prefer to integrate learning into family life (after traditional school has ended)? There are so many options and structures to choose from, so take some time to sit with this aspect of homeschooling until you find what works best for everyone.
If the first scenario speaks to you, the one with a designated learning area, then you will want to make sure you carve out a special learning corner in your house where you can effectively separate school life and home life. Some parents find this compartmentalization helpful in establishing a school routine, established roles. It helps the child see you as the teacher when they are in that space and school is in session, but then see you as Mom when school is not in session.
Our Learning Corner works well for us because I am able to keep them contained, focused, and comfortable. Having designated spaces for schoolwork, manipulatives, and other activities are so very helpful to stay organized!
If you want some fun, educational activities delivered to you monthly, check out Kiwi Crate! They have tons of science and art projects to choose from.
Grace: Give Yourself A Little
Homeschooling can seem like a constant balancing between maintaining structure but also building in areas for flexibility.
First, if your learning corner or designated learning space isn’t working for you, there’s no need to continue the rest of the school year in that same format. Be open to adjusting and changing as you go. Being flexible surely benefits both you and your learner(s)
It’s really important to be patient and give yourself grace. No one expects you to be the perfect teacher, but as their mother, you may just be the perfect teacher for them. Make it an adventure! Don’t be afraid to learn (or relearn) alongside your kids! This is a great way to model discovery and inquiry and also a growth mindset for them.
A lot of teaching (both traditional and homeschooling) is responding to your students in the moment. Have a lesson that didn’t go according to plan? No worries! You have the flexibility to adapt as you go. Homeschooling allows you to respond to what your children already know or struggle with and give them the individualized attention they need to master any skill.
Where Do I Go for Help?
You don’t need to be an expert, you just need to know where to find the resources and supports to help you along the way. Do not reinvent the wheel!
Some states offer a state-adopted homeschool curriculum. They are not always easy to find and use, as I have found. However, that is a good place to at least start so you know what the state offers.
The Kindergarten Toolkit is a great place to start. It assured my worries about whether I was teaching what my child needs to know, addressing the right concepts, etc. (These may also be worries you have right now.)
You can also get a variety of pre-packaged curriculum sets from websites like Teachers Pay Teachers or others.
If you’re looking to do some exploring without committing financially, connect with your local library. They have resources and curriculum sets you are able to check out and you can then decide what may work for you and your learner(s).
While you’re there, check out their events calendar. If they are leading STEM activities, for example, take a homeschooling road trip!
Here are some tips on How I’m Teaching My Toddler Kindergarten Early and How I am Teaching My Toddler to Read!
Use what motivates your kids.
As you already know, each child is different. Each child thinks differently, approaches tasks differently, and learns differently. As their mom, you know these things better than anyone.
Is your preschooler motivated by food? If so, perfect! My toddler definitely is, and I use little baby puffs to engage him with simple math lessons. (I realize this may seem like how you would train a dog, but the concept is the same.) Check out some of these ideas for your food-motivated learner!
Maybe they are motivated by one-on-one attention from you. Use that. Use whatever motivates them to engage them and encourage them.
Homeschool is hard. It can be tiring at times. But it can be silly, too. It can make me giggle alongside my children. It can make me wonder about them.
Sometimes it can be a mess, but it’s a joyful one!