Are you suddenly homeschooling? Many of us jumped into the deep-end and are in need of fast homeschooling tips! So we are digging up and sharing the secrets of veteran homeschool moms to help you have fun teaching your kids.
But until this year, Janice and I had not homeschooled our own kids. While we’ve been very involved in our children’s education, and we’ve had so many homeschooling friends and homeschooling writers on our blogs, we are just now becoming homeschool moms ourselves.
So even though homeschooling is new for our families… it still feels familiar and like a good fit. In fact, I’ve always wanted to be a homeschool mom, and now this pandemic is giving me another reason to finally do it.
Learning From The Experts
One of the awesome parts about homeschooling is the amazing community of homeschoolers and all the information and resources they share.
So we have gathered are some genius homeschooling tips from our blogging friends and moms we’ve met in Facebook homeschool groups…
Homeschooling Tips From Experienced Homeschool Moms
- Set up the right environment for learning.
Creating a homeschooling space in your home is possible, even for small houses. You can make your kids’ learning environment comfortable and productive with these tips for a creating a homeschool space.
Chrysa from JinxyKids.com
- Create a daily schedule.
One of my best homeschooling tips is to create a daily schedule with clear expectations. I’ve found a schedule helps create fun-filled days of learning and exploring.
Laura from JoyFoodSunshine.com
- Schedule enough time for recess.
Kids need the mental break to run & play in order to be able to focus the rest of the day.
Alexis from ThatFitFam.com
- Teach the most important subjects at the start of the day or after a hearty play break.
Is math a struggle? Make it the first thing you work on, while you’re both fresh. Do the hardest assignment first. “Eat the frog.” He’ll be able to focus better and you’ll be less frustrated.
Jaime from LikeABubblingBrook.com
- If you want to save time, consider purchasing a curriculum.
While many homeschool parents prefer to piece together learning materials or create their own teaching activities, it can be very time-consuming. For new homeschooling parents, it can be easier to follow a curriculum that provides you a guide and all the learning activities you need.
Sarita from AnOffGridLife.com
- Create a master binder with all of your answer keys.
Use dividers to label each subject. This way, everything is in one place and you can quickly get to it when grading.
Valerie from HomeschoolPickle.com
- Let your child’s interests guide their learning.
As a public school teacher who shifted to homeschooling in the spring, the best advice I can give is to allow your child’s interests to guide their learning. By tapping into their natural curiosity you will end many of the battles that you see in traditional schooling and encourage a sense of wonder and develop their natural desire to learn.
Lauren from simply-well-balanced.com
- Look beyond worksheets for learning activities.
Many kids hate worksheets. Instead of worksheets, you can watch documentaries, have family discussions, go exploring at the park, pack a lunch and go to the beach. Kids love building things from scrap cardboard. Keep things like magnets, springs and popsicle sticks on hand for their building ideas. Get your kids to practice music, bake, and find other ways to learn beyond worksheets.
- Go on nature walks.
Take your kids on a nature walk and do tree bark rubbings, press wildflowers, look at the different types of seeds and how they might be spread. Listen to bird calls, talk about migration, look at the colours outside and note how they’ve changed, along with smells. Catch aquatic insects and draw them, draw the seeds, draw the neighbourhood as a map and mark where your favourite part of the walk was. Get kids inspired to do some creative writing.
- Let active kids fidget.
When fidget toys became all the rage, they may have become a distraction for some kids… especially in classrooms. However fidgets can be very beneficial for kids who struggle to pay attention. There are many useful fidgets ranging from stress balls and small hand-held fidgets to bouncy bands for a child’s chair that allow their legs can keep going even when they have to be still.
Krista from WereFarFromNormal.com
- Invest in yourself by reading encouraging books for homeschooling moms.
You will need encouragement and inspiration when homeschooling get tough. Try these recommended books for homeschool moms. Don’t set out on your homeschooling journey alone.
Bonnie from thekoalamom.com
- Use popsicle sticks with kids’ names to keep your bookshelf organized.
This is one of my little homeschooling tips that can help you stay organized… If you have a bookshelf with organized readers and have several children, use popsicle sticks with their names, so they can place the stick in the place of the book they take off the shelf.
Valerie from HomeschoolPickle.com
- Keep reading aloud to your children even after they learn to read on their own.
Reading aloud together is such a great way to go on adventures together and build up a repertoire of shared experiences, especially during this pandemic. It builds vocabulary and it’s fun!
Marty from MartyLayne.com
Our Own Homeschooling Tips
Janice and I have learned a few things already in our first couple of weeks homeschooling our teenage girls.
- Let Them Take Turns Being “The Teacher”
I learned this lesson on my second day homeschooling my grade 8 daughter and niece.
My niece Olivia has ADHD and is incredibly outgoing and talkative. So on our second day of homeschooling, Olivia decided she wanted to take a turn standing at the front of our little classroom at the white board and giving ME a lesson on the plot lines of all eight Harry Potter movies.
She was so engaged and excited as she explained the storylines and characters of all the Harry Potter movies. My daughter, Sophia, who doesn’t usually like to talk in front of a class at school, helped Olivia with adding in extra details and reminding her about points she missed.
It was incredible to watch their excitement translate into a “presentation” that lasted over an hour.
- Be Flexible In Your Schedule and Content
Fortunately I’m a spontaneous person by nature and I’ve always felt a schedule is just a suggestion of how my day should go.
But it can still be a challenge to let go of your preconceived ideas of how you want your homeschooling plans to flow.
After my first day of homeschooling my teens, I realized that I had to be really flexible. Since Olivia and Sophia are so into the Harry Potter movies right now, they asked if we could use the books as the first part of our “English lessons.”
At first I didn’t want to give in to that idea… I thought that Harry Potter books were too young for them since they are 12 and turning 13 soon. They have September and October birthdays and are both in grade 8.
They actually had never read the Harry Potter books before. Sophia’s first grade teacher had read Harry Potter out loud to them as a class, and she was only 5 at the time. I think she was too young for Harry Potter at the time, and it turned her off of the books completely. As much as I tried to get the girls interested in reading the series over the following years, none of them were interested.
But during this long lockdown with endless screen time, both Sophia and Olivia watched the Harry Potter movies and loved them.
So they are now reading the first novel. They are taking turns reading out loud to each other and loving it. In fact, I caught Olivia actually saying, “I love reading!”
Once we finish all the Harry Potter books, I’ll let them help choose the next direction for our reading and writing curriculum.
I’m also staying open to learning about new resources, websites and apps that can help us along the way. Recently I discovered the Photomath app, and I’m relieved to now have a place to get all my math questions answered.
- Start Your “School Day” Later
Since my girls are teenagers, their bodies are naturally tuned to want to go to sleep late and wake up late. There is tons of research available that shows most teenagers aren’t getting enough sleep these days. Teens naturally go to sleep later than younger kids. They tend to do best if they go to sleep around 11 pm and sleep until 9 am.
I told my girls that we could start homeschool anytime before 10 am.
I thought I would be nagging them to get started at 10am, but so far I’ve found that they have started their work around 9:30 am. It’s been me that’s still brewing my coffee as they are already turning on their computers.
Becoming Homeschool Moms
For the last two months, I have been preparing for my metamorphosis into a “Homeschool Mom”. I’ve been purging old papers, selling old toys, preparing easy meal plan ideas, deep cleaning our house, and converting my home office into a mini classroom.
I’ve always said that parenting is full of seasons. And never has that felt more true as I begin this entirely new season of parenting.
I’m thankful my kids are older now… Since they are 13 and 15, it’s easier than when they were little. I think those early days with babies, toddlers and preschoolers are the most exhausting and physically challenging years for mothers.
But the teenage years are hard in different ways. Trying to help your kids with their complex emotional, social and academic issues can be heartbreaking and beyond difficult.
As Janice and I decided to homeschool our teenagers, we considered how much academic responsibility we’re taking on. As hard as I think homeschooling younger kids would be, homeschooling teens is going to be quite the interesting endeavor.
I used to always say, “I’d homeschool my kids if I really had to.” And now, I’m actually happy that I’m getting the chance.
I don’t think I would be brave enough to choose this option if it weren’t being forced upon us. So I’m choosing to look at this as a silver lining to this awful pandemic.
I’ll be honest, as I’m learning more about homeschooling, I’m regretting not having homeschooled my girls when they were younger. But I can’t rewrite the past, I can only leap forward with excitement into our future.
We’re going to do traditional homeschooling with my grade 8 daughter Sophia and Janice’s daughter Olivia, who is also in grade 8.
(Janice’s son Jackson is doing his first year of university remotely.)
My oldest Julia, who is in grade 10, will be taking distance-learning classes to earn graduation credits. I will be supporting her with those courses as well as “homeschooling” her in a variety of subjects to help improve her skills.
Our girls have a variety of learning challenges that make school difficult. Between our three girls, we have experience with ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia.
So I am excited about this new approach of teaching our three girls.
We are going to continue to add homeschooling tips and resources here in this blog post over the coming months as we discover and learn more.