Homeschool your way! That’s the main thing I want you to get from this post. The fact that you choose to homeschool makes you different. Maybe not so different from your close friends or family, but different from most people around you. So, embrace being different.
Many of us are natural people-pleasers. We don’t enjoy conflict; we don’t look to cause trouble. When we aren’t confident enough about our decisions or choices or feel like we don’t know what we are doing, it’s too easy to follow the crowd and do things the same way as everyone else.
But what if that’s not the best way for you and your family? What if your thinking is different from theirs, or your kids don’t learn the same way as others? There is no “RIGHT” way to homeschool. So many factors can affect the way you homeschool. Don’t try to be someone else; you and your children will not be happy! (Let’s face it, if mom’s not happy, no one will be happy for long!)
Dare to be different! Dare to homeschool your way! Don’t be different just for the sake of being different, however. Look at your family, consider your children, and think about yourself. Your homeschooling decisions should be based on what will work best for your family, not what everyone else is doing. So, let’s look at how you can homeschool your way.
Your Homeschool Schedule or Routine Should Work for Your Family
All of us function better with some schedule or routine, especially kids. But is everyone’s way the same? Of course not! So, don’t force your homeschooling routine to be like your friend’s schedule!
When Do You Homeschool?
Some homeschooled families like to start their schoolwork early in the morning. And then there are the rest of us. If you want to do school from 6:00 AM until noon, great! If morning is not your thing, and no one in your family is remotely functional until almost noon, start your schooling after lunch. It doesn’t matter; however, setting up a routine that works for your family and consistently following it is important.
Where Do You Homeschool?
Do you have a dedicated room for all your homeschooling activities and projects? More power to you! Do you sit around the kitchen table for your homeschooling? That works, also. Don’t worry if you don’t have a separate room for homeschooling. Use your space in ways that work best for you and your family. (Hint: Kids don’t like sitting still all the time!)
In What Order Do You Homeschool Different Subjects?
Is there a prescribed or standard order for school subjects that must be adhered to? Of course not! So, if you want to start your day with math and science, go ahead. If you prefer to begin the day with Bible, reading, and writing, that’s also okay. Do what works for you. And you can change the routine whenever you decide a change will get better results.
Your Homeschool Curriculum Choices Should Suit Your Family
You have so many options for homeschool curriculum these days! My favorite homeschool catalog is about two inches thick! And that doesn’t include all the possibilities! So, your curriculum choices should reflect your family’s worldviews, educational philosophies, best learning methods, affordability, and teaching styles. And since your children are unique, your teaching materials may also be.
Don’t Use Material Just Because Everyone You Know Uses Them
Back to the idea of following the crowd, don’t choose your teaching materials solely based on what everyone else uses. Granted, if you are doing group studies or co-op learning, you need to be on the same page as everyone in the group, but other than that, do your research and choose what will work best for your kids! Remember, all kids do not learn the same way! So find materials that will suit them, keep them interested, and challenge their skill sets. Suppose that ends up being the same as all your friends, okay. If not, dare to be different.
Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something Different
The world will not end if you use different materials than your friends. Or if you structure the sequence of your teaching differently. What matters is that your kids get a structured and comprehensive education. So, don’t be afraid to be different. And if it doesn’t work out, you can change the materials.
Example: We chose to teach history/social studies chronologically. So, we started with creation and the Old Testament historical accounts and worked our way through ancient history, ancient Greece and Rome, the Middle Ages, and so on. Each child went through all the historical sequences at least twice. We did study US History at least twice, also. We learned history together, but I differentiated the assignments to make them age or grade-appropriate. Do most homeschooling families do history that way? Probably not. Did it work for us? Yes.
Carefully Consider All Options
You have options, so many options! Consider different options when researching your curriculum choices.
Unit studies can be subject-specific or all-inclusive. A unit study is a teaching method around a specific topic in which all included subjects are based on that topic. An example of this could be a unit study based on Ancient Greece. History would be all about the history of the times. Geography could cover all the areas of the Ancient Greek Empire, the way different land features affected the development of various people groups. The Bible could discuss the ancient Greeks’ religion and contrast that with Biblical truth. Science could cover various scientific advances made during that period and feature other Greek scientists from that era. Reading and literature would feature books set in that time frame or written by people from that era. While you could focus on mathematicians and mathematical developments from the time, I would probably stick with your regular math books.
An eclectic curriculum involves selecting your choices of the best available materials for each subject. Which publisher offers the best series and sequence for math books? Which learn-to-read option looks like it will work best for your child? Which history approach best meets your ideas for teaching history? Which set of science books aligns best with your worldview and philosophy? So, you may use materials from multiple publishers, thus making your curriculum choices eclectic.
Some parents choose to use internet-based curriculums. These might be videos, streaming classroom services, independent learning methods, or online schools. Some may use online options for all their coursework, while others may choose these options for a particular subject or to supplement other materials. The choice is yours!
Complete Curriculum Collections
And, of course, you can easily purchase all your materials from one publisher. There is a cohesiveness to this approach, as well as ease. You get everything you need, all from one source, all ready for you to put to use. If your views align with the publisher’s, check out what’s available as a complete learning source.
Remember, choose what will work best for you and your family. Consider the time involved as a homeschooling parent, student interests and challenges, worldviews, learning styles, and all that, and then make the best choices for your kids.
Homeschool Co-ops and Extracurricular Subjects and Activities Need to Make Sense for Your Family
How many extras have you added to your homeschooling days? Then, ask yourself why? Do you enjoy being the unpaid taxi service to multiple practices each day? Are you using valuable learning time to travel to extracurricular activities? What toll are all the extras taking on your kids?
You Can’t Do Everything, So Choose Extras Wisely
Hey, extra activities are great, but you cannot do everything! If your kids are doing schoolwork for ten hours a day because you have added so many extras to the routine, it might be time to re-evaluate! And if you are spending hours each day driving kids to sports and music and theater rehearsals, maybe it’s time to re-think all the extras.
Choose all the extras wisely. Your kids should focus on learning one foreign language rather than trying to learn three simultaneously. It’s great for kids to be involved in sports, but maybe not every available sport! Library activities, homeschool group events, field trips, church activities, co-op meetings – all these are great things to be involved in, but trying to do all the events from every group can become a nightmare! Choose the ones that align best with your kids’ ages, interests, abilities, and schedules. You can’t do everything well, so make wise choices about extra activities.
You Don’t Have to Participate in all the Activities Your Friends Do
And, just because your friends or homeschool group members are participating in some activities, you are not required to do the same! If driving for hours to and from a field trip doesn’t work for you, then skip the field trip. If an activity costs too much for your family, opt out of the event. (Trust me, I know about that! Take nine kids to the museum and pay $25 or more each for the entrance fee. Not happening!) Choose the activities based on what works for you and your family, not on what everyone else is doing.
Forget trying to do everything, please everyone, and be the perfect homeschool mom who always has everything together. You are just setting yourself and your family up for disappointment and failure. Learn to accept your limitations and live with them. Your family will thank you for that!
How Do You Homeschool? It’s Okay to Be Different
So, how do you homeschool? Do you actively teach every subject to every child individually every day? Do you group your kids based on age and abilities and teach them the same thing? Are you teaching the same subject matter to all your kids simultaneously and then differentiating the assignments based on grade level? Maybe you use online classroom streaming to do the things you can’t do. Or perhaps your kids are independent learners; you only need to list their assignments daily.
Guess what? Any of those approaches or combinations of them can work! There is no right or wrong way to homeschool, so find what works for you and your kids and do it!
Listen to other people’s ideas, research different options, and learn what you can from others, but do what works best for your family. And that may change from year to year or even month to month. It’s okay to homeschool differently than others!
Homeschool Grading and Assessment Strategies Are Not Standardized
Grades. Assessments. Standardized testing. Testing at all. Those are all individual choices that you can make. First, of course, follow your state’s legal requirements for testing and reporting, but aside from that, those decisions are yours to make. What you grade, how you grade, and the results of that grading – those are your choices.
Do you grade every assignment?
Do you actively grade every assignment, or do you glance through them and see if your child understands what he was required to do or learn? Is it necessary to grade every single assignment? Do you even have time to do that? Some homeschoolers are obsessed with grades, while others are not.
Do you require your children to make corrections for every error?
Does every error need to be actively corrected? Can children learn from their mistakes without redoing the assignments? Again, that’s your call. Remember, it is more important that your children thoroughly understand concepts and ideas than it is that they get perfect scores on every assignment. Maybe you can watch for improvement trends instead of correcting every error. Perhaps your child can orally fix errors with you as opposed to rewriting or redoing assignments. Homeschooling should be about learning and progress, not punishment or revenge. (Although sometimes our kids might not see that like we do!)
Do you do tests?
What about giving tests? Do you do tests for everything? Testing is a way to measure learning and understanding, but is it always the best way? And some kids, no matter how well they know the material, never seem to test well. So, you get to choose whether to test or not. Your decision for your kids, not anyone else’s!
Do you do standardized testing?
What about standardized testing? Does your state require you to do standardized testing? If so, then you had better do it. If not, you can decide whether to participate in the testing regimen. Some say standardized testing is valuable, while others say it wastes time. Make the choice that works for you!
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
While homeschooling does not equate with rocket science, it’s also not something we automatically know how to do well. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Asking for help does not imply failure! Instead, asking for help shows you are serious about homeschooling well and want your kids to learn and thrive! No one knows your family as well as you do, so remember to consider all the advice you receive in light of what you know about your kids, your family, and yourself.
What Might You Need Help With?
Do you remember when you were a new parent for the first time? Did you know everything about parenting? Probably not. Did you ask for help or advice about parenting? Probably. Did you appreciate all the advice you received? Did you follow all the suggestions that were given? I didn’t think so! But you needed some help, asked for advice, weighed the advice given, and then made appropriate decisions. Just like you should do with homeschooling – what things might you need help with?
- Choosing curriculum
- Teaching subjects you aren’t good at
- Discipline issues
- How to start homeschooling
- How to motivate your kids to get their work done
- How to organize all the stuff and control all the clutter
- Where to put all the books
- How to keep your child’s attention focused
And that is just a short list! Every day you could probably add questions to the list! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, seek advice, and seek suggestions for improving your homeschool. None of us have all the answers to every question, but we all have some answers. So, never be afraid of asking for help.
Who Can You Ask for Help?
So, who can you ask for help? Who can you trust for good homeschooling advice? Consider these options:
- Ask friends who have or are successfully homeschooling their children.
- Ask people in homeschooling Facebook groups for suggestions or recommendations. (You can find our Facebook group HERE. See the form in the sidebar to join.)
- Are you part of a homeschool group or co-op? Ask around during meetups for ideas and suggestions.
- Read my blogs and those of other homeschool veterans for ideas and suggestions.
- And, if you need it, I offer assistance through my website. See the options HERE, schedule a free introductory call with me, and see if I can help you.
Again, no matter where you go for help or who you ask for advice, evaluate all the advice and see if it will work for your family. Dare to be different, accept the challenge, and homeschool your way!
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