Homeschooling in the U.S. has exploded in recent months. According to the United States Census Bureau, by fall of 2020, “11.1% of households with school-age children reported homeschooling (Sept. 30-Oct. 12)…That change represents an increase of 5.6 percentage points and a doubling of U.S. households that were homeschooling at the start of the 2020-2021 school year compared to the prior year.”
Such a statistic doesn’t surprise me, as even in my small town, the rate of children being homeschooled has increased dramatically. People have chosen to homeschool for a variety of reasons, including religious reasons, more freedom, and situations regarding the pandemic.
Whatever the reason, homeschooling can be a daunting task. Whether you’re new to it or a veteran, there will be days that are challenging and times when you want to give up.
So how can you successfully jumpstart your homeschool year? Here are 9 ways.
Make sure you have a support system. Find a mentor, join a co-op, and join an online group. If you are married, enlist your spouse’s support. Having an extended family who supports your decision is also helpful.
Take it slow. Give yourself and your children permission to wade through the change in schooling with grace. Too often I hear from parents who attempted to homeschool say that it just didn’t work out for them. When I ask how long they were homeschooling, they typically answer with a length of less than a few months. Give it time.
Focus on what matters. If we get so caught up in finishing each textbook, having our children excel in every subject, or making sure they participate in every possible extra-curricular activity, then we have missed the point.
Be organized (or attempt to be). Notice I didn’t say “be perfectly organized”. In order for your homeschool to function, you will need to have some organization. It helps to have a dedicated cupboard for textbooks, science experiments, art supplies, etc. Because homechooling is so versatile, it can happen in an actual homeschooling room, at the kitchen table, or even outside on a nice summer day.
Expound on your kids’ interests. No child is exactly the same when it comes to interests. One of the best things about homeschooling is that you can expound on what your child enjoys. For instance, my oldest daughter loves to write, so I assigned her a “novel in a year” project, which was one of her favorite assignments. She also loved woodworking and built a dresser with her dad (the woodworking teacher!). History was a favorite of hers, so we focused heavily on that subject as well, and graphic arts and an extra emphasis on editing led her to starting her own editing, website-building, and graphic arts business.
My youngest daughter loves science, so collecting bugs, inspecting things beneath the microscope, science experiments, and anything related to science labwork intrigued her. She also loves to fix things and is very mechanical. I used that opportunity to call upon her whenever something broke and turned it into a learning experience. A friend of ours taught her how to quilt, which instilled in her a love for sewing.
Both girls enjoy baking, so making treats for neighbors, youth group, and homeschooling events was something I included on the homeschool syllabus. Both of my girls are athletes, so we spent many an hour riding bikes, joining 5k runs, playing volleyball, badminton, and soccer, going on walks, and hiking in the nearby mountains for P.E. class.
One of the best things about homeschooling is that we can think outside the box and tailor our children’s learning experiences with their interests.
Be creative with teaching techniques. Be open to changing curriculum if one doesn’t work. We changed curriculum many times. (This is why it’s a good idea to find used curriculum for sale, as it can get pricey). Not every child has the same learning style, so passing one curriculum type on to the next child does not always work. An important thing to remember in homeschool is that one size does not fit all.
In addition, one homeschool type will not fit all children’s needs. We personally chose an al a carte approach that includes a variety of textbooks from many different publishers, some online learning from homeschool providers, some co-op classes, and some unschooling techniques as well. Other parents choose to have their children enrolled in homeschool online learning only or one company’s curriculum, such as Abeka, Sonlight, or the Charlotte Mason Method. Still other parents choose strictly the unschooling route.
The key? Choosing what works for your family.
Glean ideas from current and veteran homeschooling families about what worked for them. The nice thing about homeschooling? If one method doesn’t work, there are other methods you can try.
Don’t compare your homeschool, yourself, or your children to others. Just as each parent and child are unique, so is each homeschool. Embrace that.
And most importantly? Give your homeschooling year to the Lord. When we commit our ways to Him, He guides our steps.
Before you go, check out these other posts: