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10 Homeschooling Tips for Beginners

August 05, 2021

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Congratulations! You’ve decided to homeschool your child(ren). You’ve talked to parents who homeschool, made your pros-and-cons list and envisioned a space in your home transformed into a classroom. You’re also probably overwhelmed and wondering how you’re going to be both parent and teacher, how you’re going to socialize your kid and what they might miss out on.

It’s normal back-to-school homeschool stress. To help you prepare, DreamBox Learning presents 10 homeschooling tips for beginners:

1. Write out your reasons for homeschooling.To homeschool or not to homeschool? It’s a daunting decision. Write out your reasons for homeschooling and goals for your child. Ask yourself: What are the schools like where you live? What do you want your child to accomplish through their education? Why do you want to homeschool? How long will you homeschool? Homeschooling is more than a full-time job. When the schooling gets tough, a written list of reasons will help you recall why you took on the challenge. A homeschooling mission statement will help you stay focused on the ultimate goals for your child.

2. Set measurable goals. Whether you’re teaching literature, math or art, keep specific educational goals in mind. What do you want your child to learn and how will you track the progress? Divide the list into short- and long-term goals. Short term: “I want Susie to be able to add double digits by the end of the quarter.” Long term: “I want Susie to have a basic understanding of American History by the end of the school year.”

3. Make it fun.There will be many times when homeschooling feels particularly challenging – but it can also be a lot of fun. For example, you could teach a French lesson and then make crepes as a family. After a unit on the Civil War, watch a reenactment or visit a museum. If you’ve always wanted to learn guitar or speak a foreign language, now is the time. Homeschooling will stimulate your curiosity, and you’ll learn new things while teaching your child.

4. Reach out. If you miss being a part of a school community, find ways to build your own community. For example, try finding a good homeschooling co-op in your area. If you can’t find one, start your own or attend homeschool conferences.

5. Learn about teaching. It’s not enough to be a math whiz or geography guru. You need to know how to apply your knowledge in a way your child will understand. Read books on teaching and take teaching courses. Swap resources with your homeschooling co-op. If your specialty is English and you struggle with math, teach the English course. Have another homeschooler teach the math. Plus, some states require teaching qualifications and/or passing assessments in order to homeschool.

6. Prepare financially. Homeschooling can be expensive. Consider the cost of keeping one parent home as the primary educator. Consider the curriculum and supplies cost and the expense of transforming your designated home space into a classroom. Budget for everything right down to the #2 pencils. Have a financial plan in place and give yourself a cushion for unforeseen expenses.
 

7. Set aside a time and place for academic work. Don’t try and turn your TV room (plush couches and all) into a classroom – cartoons and serious learning don’t mix. Before you begin homeschooling, set up a classroom with chairs, books, desks and all. Get into a routine and set a clear schedule. Be sure to have official school start and end times.

8. Get  organized.Organize your materials, time and tasks so you don’t waste precious minutes looking for worksheets or scrambling to find that storybook. Set up a filing system for all your subjects and organize your library and homeschooling records. Consider keeping a daily journal and homeschool work portfolio.
 

9. Don’t forget socialization and life skills. If you decide to homeschool, be prepared for the inevitable question, “What about socialization?” Involve your kid in their community. Sign them up for sports, scouts and homeschool groups. Take field trips with other children and make sure to include activities in which your child can work in a group. It’s important for children to have a peer group to ensure their social needs are met.

10. Review local regulations. Check your state’s regulations if you’re thinking about homeschooling. Most states are subject to home-based instruction regulations. For instance, in Washington you must have earned 45 quarter units of college-level credits, attend a Parent Qualifying Course, meet with a certified teacher once a week, file an intent to homeschool your child and receive approval from the local superintendent of public schools.

Bonus tip:  Read about why DreamBox Learning online math curriculum is ideal for homeschooling families.

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