If you have been googling this topic, and are feeling a little overwhelmed at all the information here on the web, then take a breath, and know this.
your mindset determines how much you are going to enjoy this.
you cannot get it right the first time. it is guaranteed, so, instead, commit to relaxing into the homeschooling process.
Ask EVERY SINGE HOMESCHOOLER OUT THERE, they all made mistakes, and their children are grown and in the workforce, socialising and acting like normal adults, as though nothing happened.
Because homeschooling is a very rewarding and enriching journey.
Not a plan and procedure, but a lifestyle that kids love.
Now let’s get to the good stuff.
Establish what your child needs to know
you may be starting with a 5-year-old or a 13-year-old.
either way, they need to know stuff.
if you are taking a child out of school, you may be aware of areas where they need more work, or just ask them where they feel unsure or struggle with concepts.
what you want to figure out, is what should you teach them in the next 6 months.
yes, I said 6 months, and yes you can plan for a year, but hold back.
start with 6 months at a time, and trust me, the books may take a year to complete so it’s a year’s worth of work.
write in your diary a 6-month plan.
and if you’re very brave. just 3 months, it will relieve you from feeling the pressure of making BIG decisions, and you can move WITH your child as they learn.
if you are just starting with a 4-5-year-old then read these posts after this one, I will link them here, and at the bottom of the page.
If you are starting with a child who has been enrolled in school then you need to figure out what to focus on to move them forward.
If they have gaps just work on those.
If they have strengths, let them build their confidence with those during this new experience of learning at home.
homeschooling is a tailored experience, there is a lot to cover when it comes to school, but IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE DONE ALL AT ONCE.
you can choose to break your focus from term to term, month to month, week by week, and day by day.
If your child is just starting out, then, learning to read is the most important right now.
focus on that.
if they are older, and struggle with reading well, or maths, or being able to focus in general.
then be willing to try things out, three months at a time, until you can your child find what works.
Try a curriculum.
now, this is where you can become overwhelmed, it is also where I can’t tell you where to go and how to choose.
this is for YOUR child.
and I get that it’s hard to pick a curriculum when you don’t understand how it will work for your child,
It is something we all go through.
here are some links to videos and posts I think you will find helpful.
there are countless curriculums and curriculum videos out there, from all types of worldviews and schooling styles.
work on your homeschool rhythm
once you have your curriculum and 6 or 3-month idea, of what you think you might achieve, ( a plan is an idea, not a rule)
then day by day and week to week, find a rhythm.
this rhythm needs to suit you.
your homeschooling needs to be able to fit into your life, and you need to be consistent with what you can achieve each day.
especially with young children, consistently showing up with shorter lessons, that you can repeat until your child has mastered the lesson (concept) is how you are going to make worthwhile progress.
this means that you need to be able to school at least 4 days per week. (I have a four-day school week)
A few hours of schooling multiple children is fine, but make sure that it isn’t going to exceed four hours, even three hours is really a lot when you have to do it every day, and you have other things to do.
there are things your kids can do alone, or while you are busy, but make the sustainability of your school time and mastering that a priority in your life.
plan from anywhere from 30-90 minutes a day in primary school and 2-4 hours in high school.
that is a realistic approach to homeschooling long term.
do not aim for 3 hours for your 5-year-old.
it is WAY too long.
20-30 minutes, which is long enough per day, is excellent.
(for children aged 10+, you can add more time, since they have more to get done, anywhere from 2 to 4 hours a day, but that should be almost all managed by them, with a little help from you.)
teach less, learn more.
it isn’t contradictory, it is a real-life way to soak your child’s mind, with a simple concept and have them actually retain it.
your rhythm is what carries you along, if it is hard and stressful, you will burn out and struggle.
homeschooling is harder than sending your kids to school, yes, but it really isn’t that hard, not if you make it so it’s doable each day.
make a cup of coffee, sit down in the morning and begin, don’t overthink the process, open books and read aloud, and once the time you know you can afford to homeschool has passed, stop, and if you aren’t getting done enough then ask yourself these questions.
- Am I teaching a subject for too long?
- should I loop schedule a longer subject with a short one?
- Am I losing time at the school table with misbehaving children?
- do I need to change when I teach a more hands-on subject for a time when I have fewer distractions?
- can I have one child teach another?
- should I remove a subject that isn’t important right now, to save my homeschool rythm?
- Am I not starting early enough? (should I aim for 20 minutes earlier?)
- Are my kids struggling to stay focused for the time I choose to teach?
5 tips for your first year
As I mentions before, a year-long plan is hard.
now I know, registering as a homeschooler means you need to plan for the year.
but like I said.
most books you buy, in any curriculum, are going to get you through years worth of homeschooling.
if you buy one, and it really isn’t working out, then switch it out.
having that 3 or 6 months idea in your head, rather than a year, can help you move with your child.
when they are young, 6 months is a long time, a lot can happen developmentally, so being able to assess how you are teaching, how they are learning, and how everyone feels is a good place to keep yourself.
if you have an older child, then a year is okay to stick with something and see if it works, but don’t be afraid to think short term.
Don’t over-commit yourself
this goes hand in hand with overplanning.
the bigger the plan, the more you have to do each day.
now not everyone is like me, and is comfortable (or even right) to do as little as I do, (for my primary children)
but either way, you are going to discover that there is so much you can get each day and remain sane long-term.
Burnout is pretty common among homeschoolers who think that doing everything all the time is the key to a good education.
well, it may be, but the honest truth is that as a homeschooler if you want to enjoy your lifestyle, you need to scale down and teach your older kids to be as independent as possible.
highschooler and older primary students should be able to do most if not all of their school work themselves, with a little help from you now and then.
as with everything, this will be developed over time, but if this is your end goal, then be sure to choose a curriculum that facilitates this.
either way, you won’t always be the hands-on teacher you are in the younger years, but that said, you can’t press pause on your sanity, hoping for an easier time ahead.
scaling your workload way down as I have is a sustainable way to deliver a good education.
I do around two hours a day now I have 4 students, and that is with around 30 minutes of one on one time with each one.
for my kindergartner and year 1 students this is all they do each day (30 minutes) for my older boys, 30 minutes is what I spend helping them with subjects they need my assistance in, and then they spend more time doing the things they can alone.
2 hours a day as a mum of 6, is about what I can afford without getting run down.
be realistic, and it takes trying it out for yourself and rethinking your day when you are spending too much time homeschooling.
Zero in on read-aloud.
these are powerful tools and should be used to your advantage when it comes to planning your homeschooling.
if you are like me and are a minimalist homeschooler, well you still have to fill a quota when it comes to your state requirements.
so, what do I do?
well, I fake it till I make it.
I use read-aloud.
history, science, native history and sociology, it’s all there.
As a read-aloud.
I ask a few questions after the book and we can make something one morning on what we learned, I take a photo and upload it on my Trello school boards for my kids and I have a fully conventional and documented homeschool experience, as per my state government guidelines.
but of course, I don’t focus on that anywhere near as much as I do the foundational learning and it is all very easy to do, and doesn’t stress me out
Don’t be afraid to take a day off.
One of the biggest hurdles, new homeschoolers can come up against once they start homeschooling, is worrying about how much they are doing and whether is it enough.
now, while I do preach consistency, it is okay to take a day off.
if you are unwell, have something planned for your day or an event you need to prep for.
even if you have gardening to do that can’t wait, or you need to make time for that project.
taking a day off is fine.
I practice a four-day school week, this way I have the mental space to be able to set things aside until I get my three-day weekend, this helps me to stay on top of what I need to get done as a homemaker.
Take holidays when you need them
as a young mum when I had 4 kids under 6, I changed my school terms.
here in Australia, you have to homeschool for 36 weeks of the year.
but you don’t have to homeschool for the long stretch of state school terms.
I found it easier to homeschool for 6-week terms.
6 weeks on 2 weeks off.
this was more manageable, and it kept burnout away.
you are able to choose your terms and create your own timetable for the year.
You don’t have to supplement your homeschooling
if you feel bad for having a lack of resources, time or ability to supplement your homeschooling with co-op or sports, or other activities you may hear other homeschoolers have the ability to join.
I myself live in regional Australia, and the nearest homeschool group with more than 1 or 2 families is 2 hours away, getting there is not something I can do very often.
I don’t have access to homeschool co-ops, but I have never worried about this, I make sure to include my boys in what I can, including swimming lessons, family friends, and weekly outings.
homeschooling, in your home, is enough, as long as you aren’t keeping your kids under a brick, co-ops and other outside learning sources are a nice extra if you can find them and fit them in, but it won’t drastically change the outcomes of your homeschooled kids.
a website called These 16 Things, is a learning resource for homeschoolers, (and non-homeschoolers) that teaches things like paying taxes, basic business, and how to lead others. this would be a great resource for teens to learn life skills at home.