Are you considering homeschooling your kids? Maybe you tried it during the pandemic, enjoyed it, and would like to consider doing it full-time this year. Maybe you have felt called to homeschool your kids since they were born. However you have come to this decision to homeschool, it can be overwhelming at first.
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. When you are trying something new, it is normal to feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. While the idea of teaching your children at home may seem daunting, try not to worry. No one expects you to have everything figured out right away, not even your kids. Let them know that you are all trying something new, and it’s fine to allow time for adjustments and frustrations along the way. Do some research and make a list of things you would like to try so you have a place to refer back to if you need ideas.
Create a flexible schedule. Creating a schedule is a great way to keep your kids, and yourself, on task. It can be easy to get distracted when you are adjusting to the idea of learning from home. Home is typically a place where you relax, rest, and play but it will also need to be a place to get work done during homeschool. Create time and space for learning from home and use a schedule that works for your family. If your family is freshest in the morning, try to schedule learning right after breakfast. If you are a family of night owls, homeschooling later on in the day may be a better time to focus on school work. Allow time for outings, errands, play time, and free time in your schedule. Unlike traditional school, you do not need to be working on school work the majority of the day. A great benefit of homeschooling is the flexibility it can give your family.
Follow your children’s lead. Kids are more excited about learning when they have an interest in what they are learning about. When planning your homeschool curriculum, try to include and incorporate things your children are interested in. For example, if a child is interested in learning about animals, have them research different animals by reading books, watching educational videos, or visiting a zoo or nature centre. If a child is interested in cooking, have them plan a meal, shop for the ingredients while learning about money, make the recipe while discussing the math and science of cooking, and have them serve your family their delicious meal. Serving the meal will help them learn about social skills, such as how to set the table, manners and etiquette, and cleanup. Reading, writing, math, social studies, and science can be incorporated into almost any topic. Follow each child’s lead and take note of what they are interested in, what type of learning they enjoy, and what works best for your family.
Don’t overdo it. When you are starting out your homeschool journey, it may be tempting to do too much. Don’t spend a lot of money on curriculums that you may not end up using. Don’t try to cram too much into each day. Try to be flexible while you are learning and see what works well for you, your budget, and your kids while still meeting the requirements. Take it a little at a time and you will become more comfortable and confident.
Enjoy the time. Homeschooling is fun and allows for quality time with your family. You get to be a role model to your kids and you get to learn new things, too! You do not have to know about everything you teach prior to teaching it to your kids. Have fun learning along the way. Enjoy reading new books with your kids, enjoy watching them discover new things, and enjoy quality time spent together.
Give yourself and your kids grace to make mistakes, to have days where homeschooling doesn’t work, to adjust, learn, and grow. It’s enough to do your best each day, one day at a time. If you think homeschooling is a good option for your family, start by talking to some friends that have experience with homeschooling; they will be a great resource and support system.
For local resources and advice on first steps, how-tos, school boards, Alberta government updates, and more, visit albertahomeschooling.ca.
Sarah is a mother of six children, including triplets.
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