So many parents have been thrust into the world of homeschooling this year, whether they wanted to homeschool or not. I grew up in a homeschool family and have always wanted to homeschool my own kids, but I am aware that it’s not for everyone. This was my first year homeschooling and with the school year coming to an end, I thought I would take a moment to share some of the things I’ve learned, as well as some of my favorite resources that I’ve used this year.
It’s funny, I always sort of assumed that since I grew up in a homeschool family, homeschooling would come naturally and easily to me. I didn’t realize how different the experience would be as the mother/teacher vs. being the student/child. I’ve really had to dig in and learn for myself about how to go about teaching my children. There is so much still to learn and I feel like I’ve just begun to scratch the surface, but here are a few tips I can share so far:
- Homeschooling does not have to look like public school.
I feel like part of the reason homeschooling was such a difficult transition this year for many people is that kids were all of a sudden homeschooling, but within a “public school” format. Kids were still sitting at a desk and doing schoolwork for the same amount of time as they would at public school. When you reduce the class size down to your own children, and change the school room to home, school doesn’t have to be so rigid. For a kindergartner, school might only take up to an hour, and it can be done in pajamas on the couch, or at the kitchen table, or outside.
- School can be fun and shouldn’t be limited just to book work.
I found that towards the end of the school year, my kindergartner was beginning to get bored and dislike school work. I really really don’t want to extinguish his fire for learning while he’s young, so I ended up mixing it up throughout the week and got creative. Some days we would do his books, but other days we might write a letter to a cousin for language arts or play a game of big boggle. Some days we might do mathematics with chalk or on the whiteboard. Math for young kids could also include a game of UNO or cooking in the kitchen and learning about fractions using measuring cups and spoons.
- Include your younger children
Homeschooling with lots of littles can be super challenging and intimidating. But I’ve found that when my 3-year-old sees his older brother doing school, he wants to “do school” too! Heck, even my 18-month-old will lay on his stomach on the floor with an old school book and a pencil and pretend he’s doing school. Some days I would do school with Hyrum while the other boys napped, but many days we would all end up in the living room together. I would teach Gary a new letter or number while I helped Hyrum through his work.
- Utilize the library
At the beginning of the school year I remember feeling overwhelmed about the amount of resources available and feeling like there was no way I could afford all of the books and materials I wanted to purchase. Then I remembered the library. We make a trip to the library probably once a month and I’m sure we will make more frequent trips as my kids get older. Since my kids are all pretty young, they usually pick a few books out and then I try to grab books on a variety of topics: science, history, art, etc. My boys LOVE the library and it has instilled in them a love of books.
- Have structure, but be flexible within that structure
Obviously, there are things that have to be done in a day, but the format doesn’t have to look the same everyday. This might depend on your personality, but I get antsy if I don’t have some spontaneity to my days. This year, I’ve found that what seems to work best for us is to write out what needs to be done on the whiteboard with boxes to check off next to each item (my kids love checking things off the list). On days that I don’t need to get stuff done in the morning (i.e. before we go grocery shopping or to a friend’s house) I let the kids choose what they want to do first. For instance, our list might include jobs, exercise, school and outside play, but the kids could choose to exercise before jobs are done. As long as we get all of the necessary things done with a good attitude, I’m happy! And they’re happy because they were able to make their own choices, within my parameters of course :).
- Get involved in your local homeschool community
This has been a strange year due to covid, and it’s been difficult to connect with other people, but in the same token, It’s never been easier to connect, thanks to the internet! You can use Facebook and Google to look up local homeschool groups and reach out or meet up with other parents at play dates. Get involved and build a community of like-minded people that you can learn from!
Here are a few products & resources I would recommend:
- A large Dry-Erase Board is so helpful! We use ours daily.
- World and USA maps have been a great way to help my kids visualize the world we live in and the places they’re learning about.
- We love Jim Weiss audiobooks! They have provided some great educational entertainment while we’re driving around running errands and are a fun way to learn. Jim Weiss has tons of material, covering everything from America’s Founding Fathers to Bible Stories to Greek Mythology and classic Animal Tales.
- The Julia Rothman Collection – This set may be one of my favorite purchases this year! My kindergartner has loved reading them with me, but I would have purchased it just for myself. Entirely hand-written and hand painted, the books are stunningly beautiful and full of so much information. The set even comes with 10 framable prints that I would love to hang up all over my kitchen when I can get some frames to fit them :). I recommend this set for all ages!
Did you homeschool this year?
If so, do you plan on continuing next year? I would love to hear how your experience has been, what you liked/disliked, and what resources you have loved. Please send me a message or comment below!