Over 2 million families will begin homeschooling in September 2020. For new homeschoolers, it can be difficult to get started and maintain that exciting feeling at the beginning of the year where possibilities seem endless. This article outlines some helpful strategies for making the school year a success.
Have a schedule
The most important part of the homeschoolers back to school plan is starting and maintaining a schedule. While learning is happening at home, we need to be able to switch home into a school by 8:00 am. In order for students to have a routine, start school at the same time every day and include breaks and lunchtime. While learning happens outside of the classroom, students are more likely to respond better to homeschooling curriculum if it follows a schedule. Routine means success.
Incorporate different age groups in the same activity
Perhaps you have a 4th and 7th grader doing homeschool together. While some topics need to be separate, consider engaging the 4th grader in the 7th grader’s math or reading class. When I was homeschooled, my mother would challenge my sister and I to algebra problems (the same ones my brothers were doing!). We were able to make a game out of solving complex equations while our brothers taught us how to actually solve the problems. It was great for my brothers who reinforced their skill set by teaching. It was also great for my sister and I to bond with our brothers through doing complex math games.
Spend one hour doing something chosen by the students
Individualized learning experiences is the best part of homeschooling. Have your students plan an activity. This will teach them about project management while incorporating leadership skills. How do we expect students to fully learn when we don’t include their voices into the decision-making practices? Students will understand the complexities of building a curriculum or workshop while having fun talking about their favorite activity. Students learn better when they are involved in the planning process!
Make time for outdoor learning
Discovery. What sets homeschooling a part is the time to explore new subjects that we might not have had time for before. Take your family on a walk. Have them ask questions and consider parts of nature that they haven’t before. Why is the grass green? How can that building stand? What is soil made of? Thinking about answers to not-so commonly asked questions will boost strategic thinking and curiosity.
Utilize the TV when possible
What better way to learn about history than to watch it happen live? When I was little, I knew I wanted to get into politics because I was fascinated by the strong female figures talking about economics and land use on our MSNBC channel. TV has such a negative connotation when it comes to education. Instead of viewing TV as negative screen time, make the most out of it. Teach students about the news and the weather. Ask them to pick one news story they found interesting and write about it. Homeschooling is about taking everyday practices and turning them into educational moments.
Joy Capps is a homeschool bookworm residing in the mountains of western North Carolina. The only one who loves books more is her 16-year-old daughter. They both enjoy perusing old bookstores for treasures and sniffing books. Her son who is 18 has special needs, is the social butterfly of the family and has never met a stranger. Although she is originally from South Dakota she now calls North Carolina her home and she and her family love exploring the great outdoors. Her family has been homeschooling since 2005.