I get it. Today I’m talking to you — the Mom who did not even want to be listening to a homeschooling podcast this year, because you were going to send your kids back to school.
And then the mandates happened. Masks, and weekly tests, and frequent quarantines started happening where you felt like you couldn’t send your kids back to school.
And once again, you find yourself doing some homeschooling.
Unexpectedly Homeschooling Again For The Coming Year
Maybe homeschooling was not really your favorite thing. You especially didn’t like virtual schooling and you were really looking forward to your kids going back to school.
Maybe they were looking forward to going back to school, but for whatever reason, that is not going to happen this year.
And so we homeschoolers want to help you get off on the best possible foot.
We want you to know that there are options out there and that embracing a little bit of homeschooling, as opposed to virtual schooling, could make the situation way more bearable for you and a lot more enjoyable for your entire family.
So how do you deal with all of this when virtual school isn’t working and you want to kind of dip your toes into homeschooling?
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The Most Important Thing You Can Do To Get Started
What I want you to do first is I want you to take a really close look at your child.
Now that you’re homeschooling and not virtual schooling, you have a lot of freedom and flexibility when it comes to choosing your own curriculum. And that starts by looking at the child in front of you.
What do they need right now? Not what do they need in the future. Not what do they need to prepare them for college unless they happen to be a junior or a senior, but what skills do they need to work on right at this moment? What brings them joy?
And then what I want you to do is make about three to five goals or areas to focus on this year. And the reason why I want you to do that is because you probably have multiple kids at home and you can’t focus on everything with equal intensity all the time.
Take a look at each one of those children and figure out what are the three things that this kid, this kid in front of me really needs. And then this kid and this kid, and that maybe gives you nine things to focus on as opposed to 27 or 33.
Nine things are so much more doable.
Start with something that they need. What kind of skill do they have that really needs some brushing up? Maybe you noticed last year that they really didn’t know their math facts or that they are a poor writer. They have a hard time organizing their thoughts and writing a paragraph.
But you need to also look at what do they enjoy doing.
If homeschooling is unexpected for your child as well, if they expected to go back to school, one of the things that you really want to try to be able to do is bring something to their day that lifts their spirits and is enjoyable to them.
So if they have a passion for Broadway musicals, or 3D modeling, or cooking, let’s see if we can find some way to bring a little bit of that into their school day, so that they have something to look forward to each and every day.
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How Do I Choose The Best Curriculum For My Child’s Education?
The next thing you have to do is you have to start thinking about choosing a curriculum for your homeschool.
If you were virtual schooling, the school was choosing the curriculum, but now as you’re moving into what we would call “real homeschooling,” you, the parent actually get to choose the curriculum for your child.
I’m just going to throw this out there — the best curriculum is the one that gets done. Let me repeat that one for you. The best curriculum is the one that gets done.
Consistency trumps everything. So if you can find a curriculum that is at the very least tolerable, and hopefully enjoyable for you and your child, and it is getting done on a consistent and regular basis, then everything is going to be fine.
There is no one math curriculum, or one writing curriculum in the homeschool world that is just heads above the others, and the same is true with history, science, anything else.
Don’t fall into this false idea that you are going to somehow find this wonderful unicorn of a curriculum, that’s going to make your life fabulous, your kids love every school day, clean the kitchen floors, wash the dog, and do the laundry. They don’t work like that.
What you’re looking for is a curriculum that gets done consistently with as much ease as possible for you and your child. And when I say ease, I don’t mean it needs to be easy for the child; it needs to challenge them somewhat.
But it needs to be easy for you, the parent, on all levels all the time.
The other thing I want you to think about is skills versus content. There are some skills that your child needs needs to make it in life. They need to be able to read, they need to be able to write, and they need to be able to do math.
But subjects like history, science, and literature are content area subjects. These subjects offer the perfect opportunity for you to combine kids who are fairly close in age and use the same curriculum for all of those children.
So don’t feel like your 10th grader has to have a book with a 10 on it, or your seventh grader has to have a book with a seven on it, or your sixth grader has to have a book with a six on it — especially for those content areas.
It is important to systematically build skills to mastery. Don’t rush ahead just because you feel like, “Oh my goodness, we’re not getting through with the book!” Make sure that your kids are really learning the material and stick with it and review it.
Another thing to remember is that homeschool curriculum providers really want you to be successful. And a lot of times they provide additional help for you. Be sure to reach out to them over the telephone or through email, and they will help you with placement. If you need to adapt their curriculum for slow learners, or if you need to accelerate it a little bit for faster learners, they can help.
Homeschool curriculum providers have seen it all, their kids have done it all, and they can help you with adjusting the curriculum as needed.
Making Your Homeschool Year A Positive Experience
Work on making your homeschool year a very positive experience for you and your child. Enjoy your time together.
One of my favorite things to do in my homeschool is something that I call a Morning Basket.
This is a time of day when your entire family, your kids, everyone, can come together and learn about some really wonderful, fun, interesting, exciting subjects, all together as a family. And in our Morning Basket, we do some literature reading. We do some history reading. We sing some folk songs. We watch a little bit of current events and discuss them.
We just have some lovely things that we really enjoy, and it’s a time in our day that sets the tone for the rest of the day.
Take the time to study things that your child wouldn’t have the opportunity to study in school and stay realistic, one year is not going to make or break your child’s entire education. Make it a goal to just keep moving forward.
It’s a marathon. You don’t have to finish the race this year. We’re looking for lifelong learners coming out on the other side. Your goal this year is to help build that up by giving them the skills they need and giving them the love of learning that they can carry through the rest of their life.
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