Some tips that can make your homeschooling journey just a little bit easier. Based on our experience, of course!
Just to put things into perspective - our homeschooling journey started after two years of private school, was spurred on by the Covid pandemic, and is likely to end after one year of doing it. You can read more about our reason to homeschool here. When we plunged into the deep end of the pool, we had no idea what we were doing beyond the fact that we were now responsible for curriculum choices, topic choices, physical exercise and 24hour care of our kids… that was quite a jump for us. Many homeschooling families I know don’t have this drastic change and have more time to plan and prepare while their child is still a babe in arms. If you are like us and have dived off the high board into deep waters, then these tips are for you!
Number 1: relax.
Yes, it’s an odd one to start with, but you need to know that you now have all the time in the world to make sure your kids are up to speed. Don’t worry about weekly goals as the speed of learning will fluctuate week by week and even day by day. Sometimes they will get through tonnes and actually retain it and sometimes they won’t. Allow yourself to go with the flow and follow the kids' learning speed.
If you’re a very target-driven person, then one way to tailor to this is to give yourself targets to meet every 3 months. Make sure they have produced a good piece of work in all major subject areas that are of interest to you during those three months. This gives you much more flexibility to get stuff done as you have more time to complete the list.
Number 2: find your rhythm.
This is super important. Take the time to find your rhythm, one that fits your family and your family only. This can be driven by many factors such as the times your partner works, or what your usual lunchtime is, for example.
One thing that seems to be consistent amongst many homeschooling families is that morning time = golden time. For us, the time before lunch is when we get all of our book work done. This includes maths and languages, history and science, geography and English. We aim to choose and do 4-5 of these every morning and I try to let the kids choose which of the secondary subjects they want to do during a particular week. So we would do Maths and English as our core subjects and Languages as our compulsory daily secondary subject. Then the kids choose if they want science, geography or history.
After lunch we have free play, experiments if any, outside time and clubs and this works like a treat for our family. Having said that, I do know one family who does it the exact opposite to us and has free time all day until 15:00 and then does all the serious work through online classes in the late afternoon. Only you can find what works for you.
Number 3: clock in the downtime.
Don’t forget to give yourself and the kids some downtime to decompress and reset. Sometimes they might be able to sit through the morning and get everything done in and hour and a half… sometimes it takes all 4 hours until lunch to get through the work! By that point most members of the family are tearing their hair out, including the kids. So having time set aside to unwind and decompress is super important. The kids need to know that this is their special time and that also mummy and daddy may not be available to play together during this time as we need the time to recharge as well. For our family, downtime tends to be the two hours following lunch when the kids are allowed their free time and screen time. After that, we are re-energised for any clubs and activities that we have in the late afternoon.
Number 4: log everything
Find a platform that you can log all of their successes on. You might not think those printouts are worth keeping (and they’re probably not!) but logging them will have them available for future reference so that you and your child can see just how far they’ve come.
This can be your Instagram account, or a separate private account depending on how comfortable you are exposing your kids to the internet world. This could also just be photos on your phone or sharing apps such as Class Dojo. All of these will allow you to keep grandparents and friends in the loop and your children can receive feedback to their work from people other than just mum and dad - super important as it gives them a well-rounded perspective of their achievements.
Number 5: don’t order all the books at once.
One of my biggest mistakes in the beginning was to get excited about all these wonderful workbooks available and ordering a tonne of books that were basically the same thing. I have far too many work books for maths and English and even science and it just puts pressure as you feel you need to do them all to get the benefit. Try a few different publishers, maybe even a different publisher for each subject to get a feel for what is out there and to see what works best. You will realise within about a month, which books work for you and which don’t so you will then be able to give them preference during your next book haul. Assuming you don’t have readily available second hand books stores close by, Book Depository and Usborne are your friends.
Seriously, Book Depository ships for free all over the world and there are sooo many topics and workbooks available from Usborne. The kids enjoyed their Usborne Maths books so much that I’ve ordered the English workbooks to try out too.
Bonus tip: get the kids involved.
The kids are now part of your daily life. That means they are part of the shopping trips, the chores and the cleaning up too. Just because it‘s faster and easier for you to vacuum by yourself, doesn’t mean the kids should not be involved. Having responsibilities gives them a sense of control and teaches them teamwork … no matter how much they hate the vacuum!
And those are our top tips! Don’t forget to looks after yourselves and planning it into the day. Doing it for yourself teaches the kids how to do it too.
What is your top tip? I would love to hear from you!