New to Homeschooling: 10 Tips to Getting Started

So you’ve decided to homeschool but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! The following is a list of lessons learned the hard way-from a homeschooling parent who did everything wrong before learning what worked.

1. Your attitude is everything
This might be one of the most important tips for new homeschoolers. Your attitude is contagious. If you are tired, unmotivated, stressed, or impatient, you can expect that attitude from your child as well. If you are positive, encouraging, and excited to learn, chances are your children will reflect that behavior. On challenging days, try to remember your why for homeschooling. In the middle of a pandemic, your why may just be that homeschooling is the best option available. So make it your best option!! Start each day with an attitude of gratitude. You are being given an incredible gift of time learning with your children.

2. Wake up before the kids
Having a few minutes of quiet time each morning will allow you a few minutes to have a cup of coffee,  plan your day, exercise, read, and reflect on your goals. It will give you the personal time you need to feel prepared and focused. Waking up after the kids causes you to begin the day reacting to circumstances and often leads to frustration.

3. Plan your week
Set aside time on the weekend to plan your week. You can purchase a teacher planning book or use a simple calendar. The idea is to get an overview of the material that will be taught and plan each child’s to-do list for each day of the week. As your children get older, they can learn to do this as well. Setting time aside to plan will also help you understand when you can combine subjects, teaching one subject to multiple grades in your household. Be sure to schedule lunch, breaks, and snack times. Plan play dates, park days, and other fun field trips.

4. Create a schedule

Create some type of daily schedule to help organize your day. This can be very simple or complex and detailed. Some form of a plan will help both you and your child have clear expectations. Some days, you can expect the schedule to fall apart and it will seem impossible to regain momentum- this is normal. Give yourself permission to start over tomorrow.  

5. Don’t hoard curriculum

It makes sense to be prepared by purchasing all of the materials you need for your child to learn successfully, but having too much curriculum can lead to an overwhelming need to complete it all. It can also leave you feeling like there is too much to do and not enough hours in the day.  When homeschooling through a charter school, begin by utilizing the curriculum they provide. You can always make adjustments later if something isn’t working. You will also save yourself a lot of money!

6. Create a homeschool space
You don’t need a Pinterest-worthy homeschool room to be successful with homeschooling. The dining room table, coffee table, or a simple desk in your child’s room is sufficient. The key is to have a comfortable space that you use daily to build routines and support good study habits. A small closet or cabinet to place curriculum, school supplies, and workbooks at the end of the day is also helpful. This way, you can put away “school” and have some separation between school and home.

7. There’s a reason they call it homeschooling; you kind of need to be home

This statement always makes people laugh- because they find it so true. Refrain from scheduling appointments, play dates, coffee meetings, etc. during your scheduled school time. Try your best not to answer the phone, shop online, browse the internet, or be active on social media during school time. If you are distracted, your children will be also. Do your best to say no to babysitting, running errands, or returning phone calls during school time.

8. Schedule rewards

Brainstorm rewards that can be earned throughout the week: extra TV time, frozen yogurt or a favorite ice cream, a trip to the beach or play date. For younger children, create a treasure box or marble jar.  By sharing these reward options with your children early in the week, your children will be excited to earn them with good behavior. You will be surprised how motivating this is for you both!

9. Be creative
Use play to teach your child important concepts. When teaching history and science, use your child’s toys and imagination to bring concepts to life. For example, try teaching math concepts in the kitchen with measuring spoons and fractions. Consider a medicine ball or small trampoline for those  who need to move while they learn. Spelling words can be practiced on the swings or while jumping rope. Take learning outside to beach or a park. By approaching learning creatively, you will find your children are more engaged and excited to learn.

10. Don’t compare

Every student learns differently and every teacher teaches differently. Nothing breeds discontent faster than comparing your situation to others. Have confidence in the fact that you are doing your best.  Remember, when you see that post from the perfect homeschooling family on social media- it isn’t reality. Remember that they probably have laundry all over the house, have eaten fast food five nights this week, and only did a few things on their homeschool list.  Pretty and perfect don’t exist and homeschooling in your home will be special, unique, and maybe not as photogenic as someone else, and that’s okay! 

The Classical Academies are an organization of award- winning, tuition-free, public charter schools serving 4600+ students in North San Diego County. The schools have been partnering with parents for quality education since 1999. For more information visit www.classicalacademy.com.