Homeschooling 101 – The Basics
Homeschooling is a job many of us have taken on with little to no training. We weren’t versed in educational terminology, aren’t sure about what criteria to adhere to when choosing what to do or how to do it and have these kids who don’t fit neatly into any category. Here we are, however, homeschooling.
How do we start homeschooling when we aren’t even sure where to begin?
Start simply. What are your goals for this year, this semester, month, or week? Here is a very basic break-down of what kids should be doing by age/stage:
It should be simple- cut and paste, learning numbers and letters, skipping, exploring nature, reading good books together, listening to music, setting a routine, and forming good habits.
For Kindergarten through Third Grade:
In the early years, we can focus on reading, writing and number literacy, including the basics of phonics, art and nature exploration, the discovery of the world, more great books, field trips and the development of routines and habits.
For Third through Sixth Grade:
Now is the time to start math and literacy development, including all math function and ease in reading silently and out loud, writing fluency. Science, nature and history exploration, developing creative expression, PE, art, music, and of course, great books.
Seventh & Eighth Grade:
It is now that we should begin transitioning into more ownership of one’s education. Your students should be pursuing math or reading on their own. He should also be conducting more skilled science/ nature exploration, developing specific skills in various areas, logic, pre-algebra, and moving from concrete to abstract operations. It is also important to consider further development of routines and habits, especially those soft skills.
Ninth through Twelfth:
Now our students must begin developing critical thinking skills in various areas, building skills in various types of writing, the ability to read fluently and critically, scientific inquiry and math exploration, developing and furthering one’s understanding of history from ancient through modern, developing specific skill areas depending on ability, resources and interests, branching out into the world of work, community service, perhaps college credits and career exploration. It is also a good time for further development of habits and routines.
Once you have a simple understanding of basic expectations by grade/ stage level you can begin to think about what you want each kid to learn at this point. For me, it’s most simple to think about “by year” as many curriculum suppliers organize their studies that way, but I know others like to consider by quarter or season. Start simple.
I have worked for 10 of the twenty-eight years we’ve homeschooled- some at the front end and most at the back-end, and when I say simple, I mean it. Working is a job. Homeschooling is a job. Managing a house is a job. Like you, I need things that work, are time and cost-effective, and don’t cause me to want to pull my hair out.
(Need more homeschool encouragement? Check out our post on what to do when homeschooling gets hard.)
What are my main homeschooling 101 tips?
- Choose open and go curriculum that is not teacher intensive. This tip means you may have let go of the curriculum that you love because it takes to long to prep or get through.
- Choose curriculum that YOU love and understand because if you don’t love it, you won’t use it.
- Consider your kids learning styles but don’t cater to them. Capitalize on your kids’ strengths and shore up their areas of weakness. The research on learning styles suggests that teaching to the kids learning styles has no significant benefit in the long run.
- Chose a curriculum that gets the job done. Know what you’ll be learning. Learn it. Know what you’ve learned.
- Don’t shy away from complicated subject matter but choose a curriculum that makes the difficult subject matter accessible. I like Henle Latin, but it’s archaic, and other curriculum get the job done much more efficiently.
- Don’t look at and consider everything- you don’t have the time or money for that.
- Don’t worry so much about if your kids are having “Fun.” Education can be fun, but it can also be hard work. You don’t want to sacrifice the real sense of fulfillment that comes from hard mental work. Finding the balance between fun and educational sweat is a delicate task.
- Choose overview programs for some learning and mastery for others. Some curriculum camp in overview and after the first go-around they are a waste of time and money.
- Read, learn, and grow as an educator.
- Choose a curriculum that works for multiple kids, if at all possible.
- Utilize homeschool “helpers” – co-ops, class days, on-line classes, Audible, YouTube, Videos, computer games, Tutors, and more. There are so many fantastic resources to help you get to where you need to go.
- Keep the end in mind- what are your kids going to do after high school? Vo-tech, internships, travel, entrepreneur, College- Ivy League, NCAA, Military, Military Academy? All of these options and paths will require a different plan, different courses, different extra-curricular, and test scores to get there.
So there you go, a crash course in Homeschooling 101. We’ll continue the discussion this month on Homeschooling Basics. Stay tuned for more great info!