Dear New Homeschool Parent,
Welcome to the ranks! You are joining a wonderful club of people who have chosen to take upon themselves to provide for their child’s education. This club is diverse. How and why every family homeschools are different, but there are some universal tips I want to give you to make your homeschool journey easier.
1. Make a list of why You are homeschooling.
If you don’t have a reason to homeschool, you are destined for failure. Homeschooling is hard. There will be days that are awesome, but there will be just as many days that you don’t even like your child. List your reasons and look back at them on the bad days.
2. Understand that you WILL have curriculum failures.
We all buy curricula, classes, books, and programs that don’t work out. It might not work well for your child’s learning style or your teaching style. It might be a bad fit because it has too many projects, worksheets or reading assignments, and you need to adapt it. Those things happen to all of us. Ask for advice on choosing something else when it does happen because by then you will have more idea of what does and doesn’t work for your family.
3. Don’t skip the good stuff.
All too often I see new homeschooling families choose to put all their energy into “reading, writing, and math.” The truth is that those skills are largely based on brain and body development in the early years of school, and will happen more easily when your child is ready. Instead of worrying about those skills so much, be sure to do the things that feed your child’s brain interesting thoughts. Read great books. Explore science concepts. Make art. Go on field trips. Learn history. Teach your child things that make both of you want to do your school work.
4. Seek out community.
Homeschooling is easier when you and your child have a support system. As more and more parents have chosen to homeschool, more and more support groups have popped up around the country. Search Facebook and ask around to find other homeschoolers. Consider setting up low-stress events like park days if your area doesn’t have them. The children will benefit from time to play and the parents from time to relax together. You can also set up an adult “Show and Tell about your curriculum.” That one that already failed at your house might be just what another family needs. This can be a great way to not only network with other homeschoolers but to see and touch products before you buy.
5. Take days off when you need them!
I’ve called off school for illness, to have a free day to clean the house, and even just because the weather was nice. You are in charge of your school year. Your children will not suffer if you take time off when you need it. It is hard to homeschool, don’t let yourself become burnt out before you even get started.
I believe that every homeschooler should have the support they need. If you need some support, please join our Facebook community. If you are worried about adapting your curriculum for your child with learning challenges, please check out our curriculum, which was designed by an OT to work better for children like yours.
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. Laura has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.