Whether you've always planned to homeschool or you've been pushed into a new reality because of school closures, teaching your kids at home comes with some challenges yet also offers many rewards. Though the prospect of homeschooling may feel overwhelming at first, there are some things you can do to make the experience easier.
Stick to a Schedule
Kids thrive with structure, and the start of your homeschooling year is a great time to implement a schedule. Post the schedule in a prominent place, like on the refrigerator, so that everyone knows what to expect throughout the day.
Homeschooling is also a great opportunity to help your child learn during the time of day that works best for them. If they're up and ready to go first thing in the morning, hold your homeschool lessons right after breakfast when your child is refreshed and focused. If they wake slowly and work best later in the day, hold class in the mid-afternoon. When you homeschool, you have the flexibility to structure your day as you like... but structure is key.
Create a Learning Space
Your child may not have a classroom or desk assignment this year, but they will learn better with a designated learning space in your home. Whether it's a desk in their bedroom or a corner of the kitchen table, create a space designated just for learning.
To keep lessons moving as smoothly as possible, it's also helpful to make sure your child's study materials stay organized. Create space on a specific shelf or drawer where your child can store all of their school materials when they're not in use. This way, they'll never have to spend time frantically searching the house for that lost book or half-completed assignment.
Take Plenty of Breaks
Homeschooling does not require a lot of time online, but if your child is going to school virtually, they're probably spending more time in front of the screen than they're used to. To break up the screen time and help your kids burn some energy, encourage them to take many short breaks, even if it's a quick 5-minute walk around the neighborhood or 10 minutes shooting hoops in the driveway.
Likewise, make space for both physical education and recess each day. Kids learn best when they're able to blow of steam and spend some time outdoors.
Incorporate New Skills and Hobbies
If your child is used to going to school each day, they're accustomed to spending seven hours learning and socializing. At home, however, learning is likely taking place for just a few hours a day. Use the extra hours to help your child pick up a new skill they may not be exposed to at school, such as piano lessons, online yoga workouts or mindfulness practice.
When it comes to encouraging new skills and hobbies, let your child's interests and enthusiasm be your guide.
Teach Your Child Real Life Skills
Learning comes in many forms—it's not all reading, writing and arithmetic. Use some of your homeschooling time to help your child develop skills that will be helpful in real life, such as budgeting, cooking and home or car repair. When you help your child with these kinds of real-life skills, you are helping your child become well-rounded and self-sufficient.
Don't Do It All
It's hard to fight the pressure do it all, but chances are you aren't an expert in algebra, Spanish and sewing. Don't feel like you have to know it all or do it all. Instead, supplement with resources like Khan Academy or Discovery Education—or incorporate more play and time in nature into their day by setting them loose outside to learn and explore on their own.
Don't Be Too Hard on Yourself
For many parents, homeschooling is uncharted territory. It's only natural that there will be a learning curve. No matter how motivated you are to create a wonderful, creative and exciting school environment for your children, there will be days when it seems that nothing goes right.
Take it from seasoned homeschooling families: You have to take the good days with the bad. When those though days do arise, know that you're doing the best you can and that your children will thrive despite some bumps in the road.
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