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5 Homeschooling Tips Everyone Should Know

Feb 5th, 2021

Education changes all the time. Schools a hundred years ago were vastly different from schools today, as were schools from just a few decades ago.  

The way children learn, the pace they learn at and the methods they use to absorb information are all constantly shifting and evolving with the world around them, which presents no small challenge for the teachers, parents and guardians who are trusted with their care and education. After all, there are extracurriculars to think about, test scores to factor into college admissions and finding the precarious balance between education, social life and mental health.

Bottom line, there are so many factors that are looped into a child’s education, and they are always changing, shifting and evolving with the ties and with the child’s needs. 

Homeschooling is a form of education that has been rapidly gaining popularity in the United States and around the world. As of the beginning of 2021, there are about 5 million students enrolled in homeschooling in the United States, a significant increase from the 2.5 million students in 2019. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged many to switch to homeschooling, but even before the pandemic there has been growth in the homeschool population by about 2-8% each year. 

If you’re thinking about homeschooling your children for the year, for a few years or for their entire grade-school career, then don’t be discouraged by the information overload that exists online and in your community. It can seem overwhelming, certainly, but the many resources out there are to help you figure out what’s best for you and your child. 

We’re not going to get too in-depth here on what all goes into a homeschool curriculum, as that could take years to cover. Rather, I'm just here to give you some tips from a bona-fide product of homeschooling. My mother successfully homeschooled myself and my siblings through the entirety of grade school and, if I may say so myself, we turned out pretty darn okay. 

5 homeschooling tips to know 

Homeschooling is not for everyone, but it is an option for everyone

Think of homeschooling as just another option for education: public school, private school and homeschool. And just as you’d examine the pros and cons for public and private school, you can do the same for homeschool.

Because of its rise in popularity, the wealth of resources available to homeschooling parents just keeps getting richer. From conferences to curriculums to communities to competitions and much more, the homeschooling community certainly has plenty to offer to any family. Thus, homeschooling can be a viable option for everyone, just as public and private schools are.

That being said, homeschooling may not be what your family wants or needs, and that’s okay! It’s not for everyone, and that’s the beauty of it: you can choose what’s best for your family. There is no right or wrong answer.

Homeschooling is not the same as schooling at home

A common misconception about homeschooling is that one can just replicate a public school environment in the home. However, this can lead to frustration and confusion in that method’s implementation.

Public schools and private schools have to follow a series of strict schedules and guidelines that apply to everyone regardless of their individual needs. Homeschooling allows for a curriculum and schedule that is specifically tailored to the child’s individual needs and the instructor’s (your) schedule. 

Of course, there is no single way to set up your schedule, so that’s not what we’re here to tell you. The point is that you may find that the student needs more time on certain subjects than on others, and the beauty of homeschooling is that you can adjust the time, location and pace of each subject to fit your child’s needs. Trying to replicate the exact environment of a public school in the home rarely works out the way one expects, so it’s wise to discard that notion immediately. 

There is no one reason why homeschooling is the way to go

If you’re looking for a sign that will show you exactly what you should do with your child’s education, then you may be looking for some time. There is never one single reason that will give you the green light to go ahead; rather, the decision to homeschool is made up of many seasons, both large and small, that ultimately build your path toward this option.

These reasons are unique to each family, so don’t feel as though you have to do what others say to do. Whether your reasons are educational, personal, religious or financial, the things that make homeschooling right for you will likely be a combination of many smaller factors.

You don’t need to know everything!

Homeschooling can sometimes feel intimidating to the parent or caregiver because there is a sense that one must master every subject well enough to teach it. Thankfully, that’s not the case!

As the homeschool facilitator, you’re there to learn alongside your child. It’s good to prepare yourself well enough to teach and help them along, but take each year at a time and find books that suit your own level of knowledge. If you’re a math whiz and can help your child along fairly easily, then there are math curriculums that give you more involvement. If you can’t wrap your mind around chemistry to save your life, then there are books that offer teaching aids, extra resources and plenty of help. Another option is to band together with other homeschool parents and each take turns facilitating certain subjects. 

The point is that you absolutely don’t have to know everything, and no one ever really will know everything either. As the homeschooling parent, you’re facilitating their learning subjects, not getting your PhD in them. 

You’re never “behind”

A big worry that plagues homeschool parents is that their child is somehow “behind” other children in the public school system. After all, when the entire public school system follows the same standardized schedules, testing and expectations, it’s hard not to try to compare. 

But, part of homeschooling is tailoring a child’s educational journey to their own specific needs and pace. If your child needs more time to understand important concepts, then there’s no benefit to rushing them along to “keep up” with standardized schedules. With a good support system and positive attitudes, there’s nothing that will stop your child from learning what they need to, not even time. 

Bottom line

  • Homeschooling is not for everyone, but it is an option for everyone
  • Homeschooling is not the same as schooling at home
  • There is no one reason why homeschooling is the way to go
  • You don’t need to know everything!
  • You’re never “behind”

Homeschooling is a highly individualized form of education that’s suited to what YOU and YOUR family need. Don’t let others tell you what is right and wrong, because you will always figure out what works best for your child. 

Hopefully these tips shine a little bit of light onto the complex creature that is homeschooling.

Good luck!

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Featured photo courtesy Pixabay/Muscat_Coach

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

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