As summer wanes and the days become shorter, parents and children prepare to return to the routine of school hours, homework, field trips, permission slips and more. It is back to school time. For families who homeschool, this time of year holds many of the same anxieties, challenges and rewards as parents who are sending their children to public school. However, homeschooling parents have some unique considerations as well. Whether you are returning to a homeschool environment or creating one for the first time, following are some things to consider as you embark on a new exciting year.
Environment/maximize your space
One of the things that is always emphasized in the public school system is whether or not a teacher’s room was “print rich” meaning are there ample opportunities for teachable moments even when no one is talking? Are there graphic resources that children can refer to, utilize and learn from that continues to keep their minds stimulated outside of direct instruction? One benefit of homeschooling is encouraging your child’s mind’s tendency to already be primed for learning.
Put up posters of notable figures, pictures of nature, alphabets, time lines, and age appropriate resources that will cause them to ask questions and come up with their own conclusions and ideas about the world around them. Allow them to add to a ‘word wall’ whenever they encounter a new word and its definition. Never hesitate to discuss whatever ideas their rich minds develop.
Routine, routine, routine
For your sanity and your child(ren)’s sense of consistency create a routine that works for your family. For some families their routine is heavily regimented while other families loosely build their days around themes or various academic topics and skills. Knowing what lies ahead will make educating easier to tackle and provide your children with stability and an opportunity to truly invest in their learning process. There are many resources to consider when creating your homeschooling schedule. (Keep an eye out for the article on homeschooling resources and support later this week.)
Don’t try to do it alone
Our children hear it all the time, “No question is a dumb question!” Ask questions of other homeschooling families. You may be amazed at ideas you hadn’t considered that would easily adapt to your homeschooling environment. If possible join a co-op, this will minimize your workload and allow your children (and you) a larger play/support group. Your penchant for cooking may be a wonderful compliment to another parent’s technological literacy and your children will benefit from varied perspectives and teaching styles.
There are many associations around Richmond that meet annually in large conferences as well as host workshops throughout the year to assist homeschooling families. The blessing of homeschooling is that you are free to create any environment that suits you and your child(ren), allowing for optimal learning to occur.
Finally take a deep breath and get started. Mistakes are opportunities for learning. If a lesson doesn’t quite go as planned allow yourself teachable moments as well. Learn what works best for you and your child(ren). Happy learning!