We are coming to the end of our fourth year of homeschooling, so while we are still learning and finding our groove, there are some tips I'd love to share if you are just starting out. I know this is nothing revolutionary, but I do hope it is reassuring or helpful for those new to homeschooling.
free e-card for the Boston Public Library and borrow digital books. Their selection is better than our local library consortium's selection, so we have access to thousands more books (all for free). It's great for ebooks and audiobooks. Ask your local librarian what resources are available to you. In our town, we can borrow Kindles from our library, learn a foreign language with Mango, and get passes to local museums.
Coursera or edX (free)
Homeschool Buyers Co-op
Khan Academy (free)
Mathletics or IXLTeachers pay Teachers (also follow them on Facebook for some amazing flash freebies)
Teacher Made Freebies (free)
Seterra Geography or GeoGuessr (free)
2. Join local homeschooling groups. Try out different activities to find out what works for you and your kids. This might change over time. We belonged to a co-op in the past, but don't participate in one right now. If an activity doesn't exist that you'd like to see, try to set it up yourself. There are often great rates for homeschoolers at museums, zoos, and places like gymnastics and art studios. I set one up at our local Audubon and the kids get three hours of farm school each week. Where should you look to find a homeschool group? Try Yahoo, Facebook, and Google groups. Hopefully you will find some like-minded homeschoolers to share your journey with. You will also find a wealth of knowledge about your state's homeschooling requirements and BTDT advice.
3. Do less. Throw out your ideal vision of homeschooling. However you THINK it will be, it probably won't be that way. For
us, we do a minimal amount of traditional school work during the
"school year." Why? We are very busy with classes outside the home! Music,
foreign language, swimming, farm school, etc. all take a lot of time
during the week, and most of the rest of my kids' time is spent playing
or reading. So when do we do the fundamentals? Generally we do them on summer mornings. It doesn't take much time, but all of the
"extras" are not in session, so it's the perfect time for us to take
care of things like math and handwriting. That doesn't mean we do zero
math or handwriting during the September - June months, but we
definitely don't do it daily. It's what works for us, so we are sticking
with it. If it works for your child to spend one month doing only
science, and the next month only art, try it out! Immersion works for
foreign language, why not other subjects?
Children are curious by nature. Leave them alone with some great learning toys and a stack of library books and see where it takes them.
4. Be flexible. You know if your kid(s) had a good night's sleep, a solid breakfast, and if anything else might be affecting them that day. If something else is going on, like illness or just a THNGVBD (terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day), give yourself the space to let it go. You don't have to do school every day. The great thing about homeschooling is that because you aren't trying to educate 27 kids, you can do it when the time is right. That means it will take less time. If it's taking all day, try something else. Do you know your child's learning style?
5. Make time for YOU. Even if it's 10 minutes of deep breathing, you NEED to take time for yourself. For me, that is a run 4-5 mornings a week. For you, it might mean shutting yourself in your room with your favorite book, or waking early to have some quiet time and tea/coffee before the day begins. Many families have success with quiet time after lunch, where little ones nap and older ones retreat to their rooms to read. Find what works for you. Carve out the time. You are worth it, and it is essential. If the homeschooling parent isn't happy, homeschooling will not be successful. Here are a few more tips on how to take a break when you homeschool.
Do you have a tip that helped you in your first years or homeschooling? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!