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Where do I start?

I have so many questions, and there is SO much information, it is overwhelming!

As a homeschooling mother of 6, with well over a decade of experience, I know a thing or two about homeschooling. My children range from 3-19, and have been almost exclusively homeschooled. For two years, we tried K-12 while continuing our homeschool program, so I know a little about that option too.

From homeschooling alone at home, in a community, online, and with an online public school, I have tried a lot of it. Here are a few tips I share when people are considering or just starting.

Tip #1 - Homeschooling takes about as long as homework

Many parents share they could never homeschool. If they are actually open to the idea, I share that they could and probably are. They just do it after school when everyone is tired and call it homework while I do it during the day when everyone is alert. Scratch what you think you know about how long it takes to teach your children. Kids are actively being taught in 1-4 hours a day based on their grade level. My rule of thumb is that if it takes longer than that, the material is too hard and the kids are struggling or it's too easy and the kids are bored. Learning should be like swimming. If you're drowning or floating, you aren't learning. You should be treading water or swimming laps. The real fun comes in when you decide how to spend the rest of the day!

Tip #2 - Homeschooling is more than academics

One of my first tips to new homeschoolers is to define education for yourself. What do you want your child to know when they leave your house? Would it include taxes, investing, basic car care, house maintenance, budgeting, managing anger, making friends, volunteering, homesteading, coding, or time management? It really is up to you and you can incorporate all of that into your curriculum.

Tip #3 - Homeschooling is personalized

Because your children are not the same, be prepared to use different programs for each child. I used 5 different reading methods to teach 5 out of 6 of my children to read. They each had different needs and I had to be willing to adjust. Number 6 is only 3, hopefully, one of the first five methods will work for her, but if not, I will accommodate. As homeschoolers, we cannot expect schools to treat and teach our children based on their needs and be unwilling to do the same.

Tip #4 - Developing a love of learning is key

I taught A LOT through games when they were little so they would enjoy learning. That love of learning created readers, naturally curious kids who were intrinsically motivated to learn. Find subjects they are interested in and allow them to surprise you with the amount of information on the topic. We had nonnegotiable subjects too, but only for so long. You cannot force your child to do something they REALLY do not want to do without negatively impacting your relationship, at least temporarily. You decide what is more important and where to draw the line.

Tip #5 - Remember the differing needs?

Socialization always comes up with homeschooling. You have to meet your child's needs there too. Some want and need to be around lots of children, others would rather be alone or with their best bud. While you can expose them to various groups, activities, classes, and experiences, forcing your extraverted child to homeschool independently because it is best for you may not be the best fit. Likewise forcing your introverted child to be in group settings all day could do more harm than good. When they are old enough to understand and articulate their needs, have honest conversations with them, allow them to express their needs and do your best to honor them. It's okay to allow your child to bring a book and opt out of the co-op that your other child loves!

While it's not easy, it's worth the time and energy

It's hard to believe that I have been homeschooling over 16 years, with no immediate end in sight. There were AMAZING years, there were CHALLENGING years and everything in between. There are so many ways to educate your children at home. You can teach them, learn in community, utilize online classes and platforms, the options multiply every year. Find what works for your family and embrace the journey.

If you're new, join me for a homeschool 101 virtual meeting tomorrow morning at 10:30. Sign up through the website!

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