Maybe you’re in total disagreement with the standards your child’s school district, or you’ve had more than a few bad experiences with the staff. Maybe you’re just tired of hearing news about yet another school shooting.
At some point, almost every parent thinks about homeschooling their kids, but the truth is the idea of having them home with you 24/7 might just send chills down your spine. And with the coronavirus pandemic transitioning schools to remote learning, it’s important now, more than ever, to learn about how to homeschool your kids.
Why is homeschooling so scary for parents?
Most of us question if we’re even good parents, so are you certain that being the sole provider of your children’s education is what they need? Then again, the benefits of homeschooling sure do seem to outweigh the downfalls.
It’s frustrating to see your child come home with seemingly unending piles of homework, and all those stories about being bullied are more than any parent can handle. It’s crushing to see the light go out of your child’s eyes as you sit and force them to do homework in the limited hours you already get to spend with them.
Sure, it’s scary to take on the responsibility of educating your child, but the real truth is you are more afraid of your child getting lost in the shuffle.
It’s your job to give your baby the world. You are not alone! Today, almost 2 million children are homeschooling.
So, if you think you’re ready to take the leap (or you’re already in the throes of it), take a deep breath and read some of these crucial homeschooling hacks to get your kids where they need to be — all while keeping your own sanity in check.
1. Have a clear perspective of what homeschooling really looks like.
The top reason most parents fail (or feel like they are, anyway) at homeschooling is that they simply have wrong perspective. The beauty about becoming a homeschooling mom is that you get to decide what works best for you and your family.
It’s true that most students tend to perform better in the morning, but if that doesn’t work for your child — and only you would know — then, go with your gut. Who’s to tell you otherwise?
Maybe your child has a tough time falling asleep at night and the mornings are difficult. Then, by all means, set your schedule so that it works for your family.
Also, keep in mind your child might have a different opinion of what life should look like now that you are homeschooling. That’s totally normal. It takes time to figure things out as you navigate the changes, so be gentle on yourself until you’ve found the right rhythm.
2. Make friends with other homeschooling parents.
You will get your share of critics, be sure of that. Not everyone agrees with the homeschooling movement. Again, go with your instincts.
You might be tempted to tune everyone out, but before you get discouraged, remember it’s not all on you to reinvent the wheel. There are lots of opportunities for you to ask questions about curriculum, best places to take a family field trip, and even learn the difference between virtual school or correspondence programs.
No one will understand what you’re going through more than another homeschooling mom. They can give you the support and encouragement you need to hear when you want to give up, and they will understand just how difficult it is to juggle life. From play dates to co-teaching, great things happen when moms team up with other moms who homeschool.
In fact, there are lots of homeschooling cooperatives in your area to help you meet and connect with families who homeschool. Use them. You will enjoy the socializing, but, more importantly, you will learn from each other. Homeschooling can be pretty isolating for both you and your child.
Believe it or not, one place to look for homeschool groups is through your school district’s website. Since enrolling in school is required by law, all public school districts have a homeschooling division that you must notify with your intent to homeschool. When you do that, just ask for their list of homeschooling support groups.
3. Set a schedule and stick to it.
A set schedule isn’t just for balancing work and life — it’s what every homeschooling parent needs to be successful while teaching her own children.
You can run errands in the morning and homeschool in the afternoon. Or, if you love to travel, you might choose to have longer weekends and longer school days on the days you do teach.
The #1 rule in homeschooling is to make sure your child knows a schedule and a plan are in place, especially if you are transitioning from a public school to homeschooling.
4. Focus on the three “R’s” — Math (aRithmetics), Reading and wRiting.
Mondays can be for math. The weekends are great for science, art and music projects because you can take advantage of festivals and museums. Wednesday can become “Writing Wednesday,” and so on.
One area that homeschooling succeeds is it gives your child — and you — time to absorb a lesson, plan the task and take breaks. You already realize your child’s attention span is limited due to immaturity, or interest, so take the time they need to make sure you are maximizing their learning experience.
If your goal for the week is to write a paragraph, let that be the big goal for the day. Of course, it’s perfectly okay to include small practices for other subjects during the day. It’s completely up to you on what works.
The great thing about this hack is that with only one primary subject for the day, you and your child can both focus. You can dig deeply into that subject for the day and add all types of fun experiences to make it interesting.
If you’re studying Shakespeare, you can talk about his life and research him online in the morning. Later in the afternoon, you can take a trip to the library and check out all the different plays he’s written. In the evening, you can watch a film inspired by his work, and have your child write a journal reflection on a quote.
Just remember: keep things interesting.
5. Set up a specific location for learning.
Trust me, you will wonder where to put all those books, work books, crayons, and other learning materials that are now a part of your home decor. One way to stay on top of things around the house is to set up a specific space where things go.
Labels are a great way to remind everyone where things go. Chore lists help delegate tasks. If you are someone with a Type A personality, this idea might come naturally to you already.
Another neat hack is to create visuals that show the family what the day looks like. Remember those things on the wall that teachers posted up around the classroom during parent night? The reason teachers put these types of things up is because children read them when they are thinking.
Also, they keep you from having to repeat yourself. You can simply point your child back to the list as a reminder of what is expected for the day.
Aria Gmitter, M.S, M.F.A., is YourTango’s Senior Editor of Horoscopes and Spirituality. She’s an astrologer, numerologist, tarotist, theologian, and parent.