There are lots of benefits of homeschooling. You get more control over the curriculum and it’s easier to adapt the lessons if your child needs more support or a greater challenge, since you don’t have to keep the needs of 28 other children in mind. Homeschooling can also be a practical choice, depending on the situation.
Educating your kids at home can be a great choice for all kinds of reasons, but it comes with a lot of pressure. As a homeschooling parent, you want to make sure your kids get the best education possible, and you might not feel fully equipped to provide them with the education they deserve.
The good news is that you’re probably already doing a great job. Parents who care enough to homeschool their children are usually very invested in making sure that they provide a well-rounded education. Still, there are always areas for improvement (no one is perfect!) and it makes sense to try to be the best homeschool parent you can be. Here are some simple techniques you can use to help reach that goal.
Create a Routine That Works for You
Even though you don’t have to get your child ready to catch the bus every morning, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create a routine for school days. Even though homeschooling is usually compressed into a shorter day, it’s helpful to have a routine to help your kids focus and do their very best.
It will also be less stressful for you if you have a routine that reduces the decisions you have to make. Your family’s routine will look different from anyone else’s, so take some time to think about how you’d like to structure your days.
One great activity to add to your routine is to plan the day together. Sit down for a few minutes with your kids and help them create a plan or to-do list for the day’s lessons. Then, they can cross each item off the list as they go, helping them stay on track and feel a sense of accomplishment.
You can also add a review task at the end of your routine to go over what everyone did that day. If you’re teaching multiple kids at once, this can help you stay on top of how each of your kids is doing on a day-to-day basis.
Build Your Lessons Around Cognitive Thinking Tasks
Education has come a long way in the last hundred years or so. Memorization used to be the emphasis in school, and cognitive thinking wasn’t something that was encouraged in schools. Today, the need for cognitive thinking skills means that this is an important area to focus on as a homeschooling parent.
Critical thinking, logic and reasoning, emotional intelligence, quantitative skills, and focused attention are all important cognitive thinking skills for children to develop. As you create your lesson plans, think about how you can help your kids practice these important cognitive skills that are valued in the modern workplace.
View the World as Your Classroom
Homeschooling gives you a lot of freedom, and you have more flexibility when it comes to spending time outdoors, visiting museums, and seeing the world. Start to view the world as your classroom, and think about ways you can incorporate “mini-lessons” into your day.
You could go for a walk and listen to bird calls or examine plants you encounter. You could take your kids grocery shopping and teach them math or budgeting skills as you go through the store.
It’s important to remember that learning doesn’t have to take place in the classroom, and it doesn’t need to be highly structured. Taking any opportunity to teach and learn is a great way to ensure that your children get a high-quality, well-rounded education.
Follow Your Child’s Interests and Focus on Engagement
Learning should be made as fun as possible. Although there are subjects that everyone needs to learn, letting your child take the lead on other subjects they want to explore can help make learning much more effective and enjoyable. Are they in a dinosaur phase? Take some time to learn about the different dinosaurs, archaeology, and prehistoric topics.
While all kids need to learn skills like reading, writing, math, and science, you can still engage them by letting them read or write what they’re interested in, finding math puzzles or video games to make learning math fun, and letting them decide what science topics they want to study. You can always go back and fill in any knowledge gaps later if you need to.
There are lots of ways to engage kids in learning, and it’s a good idea to do some research so you have different techniques to try when your kids are struggling to focus. Interactive and collaborative learning are usually the best ways to get kids engaged, but there are other tactics you can use as well, to bring out the best in your learners.
Set Goals Together
If you want your children to succeed, it’s important to give them agency and engage them in planning their own future. Setting goals together is not only helpful for meeting important educational benchmarks, but it’s also a good way to keep your kids motivated and help them prepare for their life in the workforce. You can also set goals not related to academics, such as cooking together every week or doing a puzzle.
Make a plan for goal-setting. Start at the beginning of the year to set your biggest goals. Then, every month (or even every week) you can set smaller goals that will help you reach your larger goals. This will also give you and your child a chance to review your progress!
Remember: You Can Learn Too
It’s easy to feel insecure sometimes as a homeschooling parent. We all naturally have knowledge gaps and subjects we’re not as confident in teaching. The good news is that learning is a lifelong process and it’s okay to learn alongside your kids! In fact, it’s another benefit of homeschooling.
Don’t let yourself get intimidated by homeschooling. Seek out premade curriculums and support for topics you’re less familiar with. Learn the concepts yourself. Give yourself the space to make mistakes. As a homeschooler, you’re also your child’s main role model — so make sure you’re modeling the skill of lifelong learning.