These have been difficult waters to navigate. School year 2020-21 started off for so many families with hesitation, fatigue, and continued unknowns of how this year would play out. In this current state of of our nation, I’ve heard a lot of families begin to throw around the idea of trying out homeschooling their children. Often though, the next question is whether or not they would be any good at it. I’ve had countless conversations with mamas who just aren’t sure if it would be a good fit or where to even begin.
Our family has been homeschooling the last 4 years and quite honestly I started with very similar questions.
What about an official graduation form high school? What do I need to get started? I can barely handle what I’m already doing at home, it’s hard to think about adding school on top of that! I’m not sure I can handle being home with my kids ALL day!
The beautiful thing about beginning to educate your children at home is that you have been all along! Whether you’ve thought of it as such or not, you’ve been teaching your children since the day you brought them home. Home. The place of learning that happens organically.
I’m guessing if your child knows how to speak, wash their hands, eat their food or use their manners, then you have likely taught them this, or been a major influence for them. Teaching comes naturally to all of us, whether we think we are teachers or not. It’s a unique gift that has been put inside of all of us moms.
So, if you’re considering the journey into homeschool this year, then I’ve got some encouragement and great resources to get you started!
Use what you already have
You may already have some really great supplies. The beauty of home education is that you are learning in your home, or beyond! Try not to envision a public school classroom being plopped down in the middle of your home. After all, what you’re trying to create is an organic space for learning to occur. What you already have will very likely suit your family.
Some ideas to get you started are simple school supplies, like pencils, art supplies, and paper. Finding baskets or storage containers to hold similar items. My biggest advice is to wait on buying all the things from the Target Dollar Spot (which has increased to the $5 spot — we see what you’ve done there, Target!). Start simple and acquire things as you go along and see fit. There’s nothing worse than spending money on things that you don’t actually need. Been there, done that!
Let the library buy the books for you! Our local library is such a treat for our family! We can read worlds of books for free and not have to store them on our own bookshelves. There is a limit of 100 books checked out at a time, and I’ve teetered on that limit before! Now, I have four children 8 and under and I’m pregnant. Let’s be real. I am not toting everyone to the library weekly. However, one awesome trick is to reserve books online and pick them up. Some library locations have a drive-up book return, too, so it’s a total win! No matter what you’re studying in your learning, there are plenty of resources at your local library to meet your needs!
What to teach
There are a multitude of great curriculum options available both in print and electronic form. I’m an avid researcher and love to find curricula that really fit our family well. As you spend more time with your kiddos, you probably have seen patterns in their learning styles. Do they love to get their hands dirty or learning through story? Is their attention fixed through music, visual arts, or do they love discovering the way things work? Depending on the ages and interests of your little learners, there’s a curriculum out there for you. Another option is to create your own by piecing together your own learning plan. Each state has its own learning requirements, so be sure to check those out, but ultimately you get to curate your own curriculum.
Where to begin
Once you’ve decided what to teach and gathered your supplies, it’s go time! It might seem daunting to start, but here are a few things that make our homeschool day run a bit smoother.
All of my children have assigned chores in the morning. Similar to if we were creating a morning routine by heading out the door each day for school, we make sure to prepare our mind, body and spirit for what the day will bring. We have an age-appropriate daily chore chart for each child. We’ve started this with age 4 and older, but it can be done for 2-year old toddlers as well. If they can’t read yet, I create little doodle pictures for them to follow.
We try to start our school lessons at the same time every day. If they know what to expect, children usually respond much more positively. This is especially important for me to remember on the days when I wake up groggy from a poor night’s sleep and the kids are playing peacefully. All I want to do is stay in my pajamas and sip coffee. I do think that’s totally okay every once in a while, but truth be told, those days usually result in frustration when we actually do try to start our day. Kids thrive with routine! And whether I like it or not, so do I!
Learning at home provides a beautiful opportunity to see in full spectrum how my children are growing and developing as a whole. There are a plethora of amazing resources for families that choose to learn at home. Some of my homeschooling favorites are listed below.
- Peaceful Press
- Wild + Free
- Master Books
- Gather Round Homeschool
- Whole Heart Learning
- Homeschool Bravely