Some Practical Advice for New Homeschoolers
The thought of homeschooling your children may seem quite overwhelming at first. There are so many questions going through your head. Where do I get curriculum, what curriculum should I use, can I really do this, and of course what about socialization? Let me put your mind at ease. It's not as difficult as it looks.
Relax and have fun. The reason you are homeschooling is to enjoy the time spent with your children and to learn together. Here is something you might want to think about. In the typical school, one teacher spends 6-7 hours teaching 20 children. This is equivalent to one on one tutoring for 1-2 hours a day. Learning is a lot easier in a relaxed atmosphere with this type of one on one attention.
Start talking to people you know who already homeschool their children. They will have plenty of good advice to get you started. If you don't know any homeschoolers then try to find a homeschool support group in your area. You will find listings of state homeschool web sites on our State Homeschool Support Information page. Many churches also have organized homeschool support groups. Check around and see what you can find.
Next you should find out about the homeschooling laws in your state. Different states have different requirements. Some states have testing requirements. Some have specific curriculum requirements. State support groups generally have a summary of their state laws. Check the listings on our State Homeschool Support Information page or ask a local support group.
Trying to choose which curriculum to use may seem like a monumental task, but it doesn't have to be. This is a great time to get input from other homeschoolers.
There are a few things to consider when choosing curriculum. You might choose to use one of the major home school curriculum suppliers such as those listed in our curriculum area at our Resource Center. With these all-in-one providers you can buy complete curriculum for all of your subjects at once. You might choose the unit study approach which teaches all subjects from one central theme. An example of this approach is learning about the solar system and teaching math, English, history, etc. while exploring that theme. You can choose a company such as Alpha-Omega that uses a work-book approach. Or you may even choose one of the computer based curriculums. Lastly, there is the mix and match approach. Choose whatever works best for you and your children. And don't worry. You can always modify it for your family or change it completely if the approach you have chosen isn't working.
When you choose a type of curriculum, try to find one that fits your child's learning style. At the bottom of this page are a list of links to help you discover your child's learning style and the different teaching methods you may choose for your homeschooling program.
Basic curriculum types:
- CD-ROM - computer based
- Unit Studies - learning all disciplines while studying one area
- Literature Based learning
- Eclectic - mix & match
- Unschooling - unstructured learning through living
What About Socialization?
Forget about it! The whole point is to carefully choose your child's social interaction. Socialization does indeed affect your children. Choose wisely those influences you want in their lives. The truth is, your children will get plenty of socialization from the neighborhood kids, church groups, and other outside activities. Beware! Don't spread yourself too thin. Try to keep outside activities to a minimum, they can really add stress to your life. Concentrate on your family learning together and having fun! Here are a few interesting links concerning socialization. Read our article Homeschoolers and Socialization.
I Have Small Children!
If you are homeschooling one or more older children while you have toddlers or babies, there are a variety of things you can do. If you have a toddler and a baby, maybe they can play together while you teach. A baby needs to learn to play by themselves for short periods. You can also use the time while they are napping to teach your other children. Toddlers like to participate. Let them color in the same room while you teach the older ones. You will be surprised at the things they will pick up just being in the room. Then let them go play when their attention span is gone. You may want to check out our preschoolers page for more ideas.
Areas of Learning
Here is a general list of areas of learning that you want to incorporate into your homeschool. Many of these things can be taught not only through materials but just as a part of daily life. Homeschooling is a learning lifestyle not just an activity. Learn to incorporate learning into your daily life while you're walking, driving in the car, making dinner. Use reports, letters, and games to enhance their learning experience.
Make life a learning experience! And don't forget that cleaning is a part of their learning experience. Make it part of your school day. It teaches your children discipline, organization, home economics, and character. We use a chart with a list of chores that rotates every day.
Would you like to know what your child needs to learn in each grade? World Book Encyclopedia has a great online listing for each grade level. Visit their Typical Course of Study page and choose your grade level.
Learning is a lot easier in a relaxed atmosphere with this type of one on one attention. In fact, learning from home works so well for people, there are many universities and colleges that now offers online degrees so people can have that individualized education.
Find And Use Resources
- Use online resources such as ours. You can research any topic and find great information online.
- Involve your spouse. Let them add their knowledge on evenings and weekends.
- Use your local library. Become a regular.
- Special classes are available at recreation centers, YMCA's, local colleges, and homeschool groups.
- Used curriculum sales are a great way to find excellent materials as well as find out what people think of them. You can usually find out about sales in your area from local homeschool groups. We also have some used curriculum sites listed in the Homeschool Resource Center
Above all, you've got to have fun. There will be times when you will feel frustrated and under stress, but don't worry. Be adaptable. Remember, homeschooling should be learning at home, not taking school into your home. Relax and enjoy your children.
Links for Teaching Methodologies