Three weeks ago my neighbor called me and told me she was going to begin homeschooling her three children after the New Year (they are 13,11 and 10). I've been helping her get started and it's gotten me thinking about a lot of the BASICS. Even though we've been homeschooling three years now, I can ALWAYS benefit from getting back to basics!
While I'm not the one to be giving advice on how to homeschool your middle grades child (my oldest will be there next year!), I do think I'm qualified to tell someone how I WISH I WOULD HAVE STARTED!
10 Tips for a Brand New Homeschooler
1. Don't buy a boxed curriculum! While we loved Sonlight our first year, I could have done a little more research and done it for about $1,000 (gulp) cheaper. There are so many free things to do out there! I rely heavily on Ambleside Online for curriculum guidance and reading materials!
2. Start SLOW! If your kids have been in school, it's going to take a while for them to de-school. Choose two subjects (maybe math and history) and do those well for the first few months. YOU CAN ALWAYS ADD LATER! Her children love to journal, and I sent her this site with daily writing prompts - she told me that has been a hit with them!
3. Get plugged in!! Our homeschool association in HUGE. I directed her to the website and told her about other homeschool resources. It really helps to have friends for yourself and your children. Also, get plugged in at the local library. The librarians are my best friends!
4. Don't spend too much time online. My friend started asking about several great things she's seen online at blogs, etc... I told her to beware of spending too much time online during these first months. It can make you feel inadequate and doubtful. I did give her a few good informational sites, but that's it.
5. Read aloud and Go outside. A lot. Even "big" kids love to sit down and have their moms read to them. I loaned her our favorite read-aloud to get started. I also urged her to take her kids on nature walks. I spend a lot of time with my kids outdoors (when the weather is nice!) marveling at God's creation. This also helped me get to know my children again (yes, I feel I didn't really KNOW them when they were in school!).
6. Study the Bible first and foremost! I had an extra copy of our favorite Bible study and gave it to her... she has already told me they are enjoying the study. Your homeschool won't succeed if you're not rooted in God's word. Don't forget quiet time for MOM to study the Bible, too. (I have a few Sally Clarkson books I'm going to send her way next!)
7. Homeschooling is a lifestyle, not something you do for 6 hours a day! All those little things you do around the house with your kids are educational. Cooking, cleaning, chores, grocery shopping, etc... Take the opportunity to turn everything into a lesson.
8. Educate yourself. I loaned my friend a Charlotte Mason book and pointed her towards The Well Trained Mind. There are so many "methods" out there, and I think it helps to know about them and pick and choose parts of them that work for your children.
9. Ask your children what they want to learn. Interest Led Learning is a wonderful way to promote ownership! I directed my friend to Amanda Bennett's Unit Studies ~ we love them.
10. Don't compare yourself to others! My friend's children came from a private school. I urged her not to keep up with what her friends' children are still doing in that school, or what other homeschoolers are doing. Every homeschooler is different and every homeschooling mom has their own style! Try to tune out the grandparents or extended family that are critical. Your children are what matter, not their opinions!
Do you want to tell my friend anything? I'm going to have her read this post and wouldn't it be nice to give her a bunch of encouraging messages?? Thanks in advance!!
images via Pinterest