The Very Best Homeschool Advice (a top 10 list + resources!)
Once upon a time my husband and I made the decision to homeschool. I’ve written many posts over the years about our reasons , why it works for us, our experiences --good and otherwise . My hope in sharing glimpses of our journey is to encourage parents: if you want to, you can homeschool!
Now as the 2020/21 academic year approaches, many people find themselves riding the homeschool train, considering options they never thought were open to them. Even those on board the cyber school train, which runs on a similar track are facing the challenges of having their kids at home, their education looking them squarely in the face. In response, I put together my top ten list of the best homeschool advice I’ve ever received and a few of my favorite resources as well.
1. Take one year at a time
Committing to homeschool in this strange season does not mean you must homeschool for the rest of your child’s natural life! You have the freedom to reevaluate when you need to.
2. If it connects, it counts.
Pennsylvania has a list of subjects that are required during a child’s academic career. If the field trip or extra curricular activity connects to one of those subjects or to something we’ve studied, I count it as a school activity.
Wrapping my brain around what activities make up a school day took some time. Many a well-meaning veteran homeschool mom would casually tell me, “oh, everything counts...dishes - home ec! Day at the amusement park? Science!”
Technically that’s all true, and I do like to cultivate an atmosphere of ever-learning in our home. But my kids needed to know the difference between "school" days and other days. The Well Trained Mind helped me figure out what the Hilton Home Academy would look like by offering suggested time frames. Using her recommendations as a jumping off point then allowed me to customize based on our needs.
3. Flexibility follows a routine
You probably learned, like we did during the covid shutdown, how important it is to get up in the morning and get dressed, even if you’re not going anywhere. Our regular daily routine includes morning chores, academic work, lunch, afternoon rest/academics, free play, dinner, evening chores and bedtime. Homeschooling gives us the flexibility to stray from the routine for spur of the moment meet ups, classes, or field trips. The routine helps us bounce back into structure when we need to.
4. Consider the FAMILY
Our children are not islands. They exist as part of a family unit. My eldest thrived in public school. In fact, I’m sure all of my children would do well in that environment. But it wasn’t right for our family. It is okay, healthy even, to consider things like Dad’s work hours, mom’s capacity for managing the calendar, or the baby’s nap times. Not that any one of those things trumps any other, simply that all of them are given consideration. Ultimately a choice that supports the family will be the best for the child.
5. Choose a curriculum YOU like
This is related to the point #4. Curriculum XYZ might be the absolute best on the market, but if you don’t like it, I promise, you’re not going to do it! Do think about your child, how they learn and what level they’re at, but think about yourself as well. Enthusiasm (or the lack of it!) is catching!
6. You are the boss regardless of where your kid attends school
If I could encourage parents to understand only one thing, it would be this. You, the parent, are responsible for your child’s education. Teachers, the school system, libraries, the internet - these are all tools at your disposal. Somewhere in the last century this idea got lost and we desperately need to reclaim that responsibility. (I highly recommend the book Rethinking School by Susan Wise Bauer on this topic)
7. Budget your time
Human beings operate with a finite amount of resources. We have 24 hours in a day and limited reserves of energy to fill those hours. As you embark on this homeschool journey, take an honest look at your day and budget how you’ll use your time. Factor in the time you need to recharge, cook dinner, correct the math lessons. Each activity adds up. I found Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews a simple, useful tool.
8. Teach from rest and give yourself grace
It’s true, you can’t do it all, but it’s also true that you don’t need to. If you can instill a love of learning in your child’s heart (which is your job, regardless of what kind of school they attend!), you’ve done your job. Even if you have a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day, remember, tomorrow is new! Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie
9. Take all advice worth a grain of salt - mine included!
This is actually my favorite piece of parenting advice. There are so many experts and methods and books and blogs and tips out there. Read, talk, learn, listen. Take hold of what resonates with you and let go of the rest.
10. You can, You Should, You will
The worst lie a parent can believe is that they “can’t” homeschool their child. Yes, there are challenges. Yes, you might need to rethink some things. But if there is a will, if there is a need, you absolutely can homeschool and you can do it well.
Bonus tip: Don’t go it alone! Talk things through with other moms. A problem shared is a problem halved!