For many homeschoolers the fall signifies the start of a new school year. For some this will be their first time homeschooling their children while others have been at it for a long time. Whether you are new to homeschooling or a seasoned veteran, we have some tips for you to follow to ensure a smooth and enjoyable school year:
- Give yourself time to get in a routine – If you have never homeschooled before it will take time to figure out a routine that works for you and your children. If you have homeschooled before but took a summer break it will also take a little time to get back on a schedule. Sometimes it is hard for children to adapt to get used to a new routine. Other times it is hard for the homeschool parent to adjust. Whatever the case, give you and your children time.
- De-school – Completely new to homeschooling after a traditional school experience? You may need to de-school. If you have never heard of this term don’t fret. It simply means that children need time to switch gears between a traditional school experience and a homeschool experience. The parent may also need time. Homeschooling is a whole different ballgame and giving yourself a few months (the recommended time is one month per year in school, if you took summer off you may not need to take as long) to adjust and to switch gears may help.
- Start slow – Don’t try to hit every subject and activity you have planned on the first day. Ease into your new homeschool routine and start with only one or two subjects or activities before adding more. Take a few weeks or even a month to get up and running at a full pace. This will help you stick to your plan and will guarantee that you and your students are not overwhelmed by all that needs to be done.
- Don’t stick too long with something that is not working – Excited by a curriculum you picked out or a study you planned and then find it is not working for your student? Did you schedule a class or activity that your child does not like? Keep at it for a while to see if you can make it work, but if you are still not feeling the love after a few weeks it may be time to drop it and find something else. Don’t worry too much about it and don’t beat yourself up over it. Sometimes our best laid plans simply do not work.
- Don’t curriculum hop – On the other hand you don’t want to go from one curriculum to the other spending money when you don’t need to. Many of us veteran homeschoolers have made this mistake and spent more money than we care to admit. That’s not to say you can’t change curriculum when needed, just try not to do it too much in one year.
- Find a support group – Whether online or in your community, a support group keeps you connected to other homeschoolers. Because homeschooling can sometimes feel like an isolating experience, having other homeschooling parents and children around you and your family can help you immensely on your journey. Other homeschoolers can encourage you when you need it, provide feed back on curriculum and/or your school plan, and bring resources to your attention that you did not know about. Homeschool groups also provide the chance for your kids and teens to connects with other homeschooled children in a meaningful way. If there is not a homeschool group in your area consider starting one or try searching for other local homeschool families in an online support group.
- Get out of the house – Take a field trip, have a park day, visit a museum, go to the library, go out to lunch. If you are having a bad day or are just in need of a break then leave your routine behind and take your children out into the world. One of the benefits to homeschooling is flexibility, so don’t feel tied to the house or your routine. Dropping everything and getting out in the community is sometimes the best thing you can do.
- Have fun – Sometimes we as homeschooling parents get so caught up in the schooling part of our role that we forget to let loose and enjoy our children. Yes you will have bad days, yes you and your child will sometimes feel frustrated, but always remember that your relationship is the most important part of this journey. Make time to laugh, to cuddle up together with a book, to play games with each other, to make discoveries together and remember through it all to have fun.
- Celebrate – Homeschooling is as valid a choice as traditional schooling so acknowledge what you are doing. Take first-day pictures, share your and your children’s accomplishments with others, and have an end-of-the-school-year party. Also recognize your own role in this journey and reward yourself with a day off, a trip to the bookstore, or a night out. Homeschooling is hard work, so celebrate that hard work from time to time.
Looking for an online support group for you and your family? We at SEA support Secular, Eclectic, Academic homeschoolers online at our Facebook group. We have active members all over the world for you to connect with. We also have free online book clubs for tweens and teens that will be starting up in September, and we would love to have your homeschooled student join us.
Jill Harper is a homeschool consultant aiding families on their homeschool journey. She has a bachelors in film studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara and completed the multi-subject credentialing program from National University. Jill has been homeschooling her three children for over 12 years and has been blogging about creative homeschooling and her own journey at TAD Town. You can follow Jill on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.