When we began preparing to homeschool in 2009, I didn’t personally know any homeschool families and the internet wasn’t chock-full of information on home education at that point. We did the best we could at the time, but we were on our own in many ways.
I’ve been thinking about what kind of advice would’ve helped me as we began our homeschool journey. I also asked some of my Instagram friends to share their advice for those who are starting out. Here’s a look at our ten best tips for new homeschoolers:
10 Best Tips for New Homeschoolers
1. Guard your time – Have you heard that “what you allow will continue” expression? Family and friends mean well, but it takes them time to adjust to having new homeschoolers in their lives. They may ask you to lunch, to take care of nieces and nephews for a few weeks, volunteer down at the church, or to run errands for great grandmother simply because you’re at home all day with nothing to do.
They most likely have no clue what your day consists of and one of the smartest things you can do as a new homeschooler is protect your day from these demands. Be cautious about accepting those requests. Otherwise you’ll send the message to your friends and family that your kids and your homeschool can be moved to the back-burner if they ask nicely enough. Don’t rob yourself of the chance to establish the consistency and comfort of a homeschool routine early on.
2. Be “mom” more and “teacher” less – This tip came from @livingbooksnook and it’s a great one. It’s easy to get caught up in teaching and leading throughout a homeschool day, but we can’t forget to be mom.
3. Less is more – Don’t feel like your lesson plans have to be jam-packed. You don’t have to cover every subject each day or even each week. If you add too much to your daily plans, you’re likely to overwhelm yourself and your child.
4. Be prepared to try a variety of homeschool resources over the years – Don’t assume that curriculum for one child will also work for the next. You may end up going completely different directions before it’s all said and done. My friend @fiedler1970 shared this tip and it’s one that will save you and your kids some frustration if you accept it from the beginning.
5. Avoid the comparison trap – Comparisons aren’t helpful anywhere in life; homeschooling is no exception! Soon enough, you’ll learn about what others are doing, what curriculum they’re buying, and even the standardized test scores their kids are producing.
Comparison is a joy-stealer; once you let it into your life, you pretty much guarantee a season of discontent. When you allow yourself to fall into that comparison trap, you lose sight of your kids, their needs, and your mission. Instead, stay in your lane and focus on your family.
6. Don’t try to recreate school – Even though my kids have always been homeschooled, I could have used this tip from Shelly at There’s No Place Like Home when I started. I felt like the more our homeschool resembled school, the more legitimate it would be. Oh so wrong! It turns out, our most successful homeschooling happens when it least resembles public or private schools.
7. Don’t stress when your child doesn’t excel – It should go without saying, but give your child — and yourself — some grace. No one excels in everything and it’s normal to have areas that are more difficult than others. Encourage your child to do his best in the rocky areas, but be sure to celebrate the successes.
8. Read to your kids long after they can read to themselves – This is another great point from @fiedler1970. They can and should be reading for themselves once they are able, but reading to them should still be a regular part of your homeschool routine whether through a book you’re enjoying together, assigned curriculum reading, or living books.
Your relationship with your kids will naturally benefit from the time you spend reading together and you may see it become something everyone in your family enjoys. We’ve spent many nights reading together at the dinner table, engrossed in a story while riding in the car, and all snuggled up on the couch because we had to have one more chapter.
There are plenty more benefits of reading to your kids: read-alouds promote listening skills, language development, imagination, and attentiveness, to name a few. Regardless of your motive for doing so, this is one tip you want to take to heart!
9. Make time for play – This is a tip that’s for your sanity and theirs. One of the worst things you could do is not give your kids downtime. They need time to pursue their interests and to be kids without structured learning on the agenda.
We make that happen each day by finishing our school day by lunchtime, but that may not work for your family. Either way, be diligent about allowing that breathing room in your day. It gives you a chance to have some moments off (or as off as a mom can be) and to refuel, but it also allows your kids time to actually enjoy the difference between homeschooling and other educational options.
10. Trust your instincts – Some of the worst choices I’ve made in our years homeschooling happened because I went against my instincts and it’s taken years to recover from them. You know your abilities and your kids better than anyone else. Your voice is the one you should trust the most!
It’s your turn now: what are your best tips for new homeschoolers?
Stop by iHomeschool Network’s Best Advice for New Homeschoolers Linkup for more great tips.