Overview: Being a first time homeschool mom can be a challenge. Here are 8 tips that every homeschooling family needs to follow.
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Being a first time homeschool mom can be a bit scary, overwhelming, and just plain frustrating. There’s so much information out there, where do you even begin.
Maybe homeschooling has been your dream all along or maybe you were just thrown into it with no choice. Whatever the reason for homeschooling, we all end up with that homeschool burnout at some point.
That’s why today I wanted to share 7 really important reminders that all first time homeschool moms need to remember.
Follow Your Child’s Lead
This is a tough one for a first time homeschool mom, especially if you were thrown into this homeschooling journey from the public school system.
Children are natural-born learners. When you learn to step back and trust their unique learning timeline, they will take the initiative to learn.
But there is a catch…
What they choose to learn may not always align with what we had in mind.
Let them discover, explore, and learn whatever it is they choose to learn about. This type of learning is more meaningful to them than any topic we think they need to learn.
Related: Deschooling: Starting Out Right
Combine as Much as You Can
If you’re homeschooling more than one child, it can be a challenge to meet all their ability levels. One of the best tips I can give any first time homeschool mom is to combine as many subjects and grades as you can.
In our homeschool, we do this by using unit studies. Since I only have two children, we do our language arts and math lessons separately, but I make sure to choose curriculum that allows for short lessons (psst… we use Logic of English and Math With Confidence).
As my kids reach middle school, everything will be unit study. At this point, your child should have the basics for reading, writing, and math. In middle school, we switch from teaching the basics of these subjects to using them as tools for learning about topics we’re interested in.
Try the 3 Hour (or Less) Homeschool Routine
Homeschooling doesn’t have to take 6 hours like public school. It doesn’t even have to take 3 hours.
This 3-hour homeschool routine has been a lifesaver and has given us back a lot of time to discover our passions.
Hour 1: Math Lessons & Games
During the first hour of our homeschool routine, we do math lessons and games. I do my oldest child’s lesson first while my youngest plays. Then we switch. Sicily goes to do independent math games while I do a math lesson with Kade.
Once we’re done with the lessons, we play games that incorporate math skills.
Hour 2: Unit Studies
As they start to lose interest in math games, we move to unit studies. I love unit studies because they combine all of the other subjects like science, math, history, and art.
Our unit studies are always hands-on experiences. We start by reading rich literature or a non-fiction book. Our Homegrown Learning unit studies include letters from the adventurers that challenge the children to find specific answers in the day’s lessons.
This reading part is followed by a hands-on activity or experiment. We build a lot of models, interview community members, do research, and science experiments to help us build on what we read.
The last part of our unit study hour is extensions. These are strewing activities, movies, YouTube videos, apps, and other books. The extension activities are mostly completed independently and are optional if they choose to continue their learning.
Hour 3: Language Arts Lessons & Games
The last hour of our homeschool routine is language arts. This hour is similar to our math hour where we start with individual lessons then move into games that use language arts skills.
Having this 3-hour homeschool routine in the morning gives us the whole afternoon to explore passions, free play, and attend classes.
Use Curriculum the Right Way
Most curriculum is designed to be followed step by step, but that can actually do more harm than good.
Every child has their own unique learning timeline and their own unique interests.
Curriculum is more like a roadmap than step by step directions.
Use curriculum as a loose guide to spark curiosities. If your child is particularly curious about a specific topic, take time to go down that rabbit hole to learn more.
As for academic-based curriculum (math and language arts), follow your child’s unique learning timeline. If they struggle with a concept, don’t move on until they fully understand it. Take a break from the curriculum, search for activities on Pinterest to learn more about that skill, and be sure your child has mastered it before moving on. If you don’t do this, you’ll end up with a lot of learning gaps in the near future.
Embrace the Bad Days
Bad days are inevitable.
What do we do when the day hits the fan?
We stop our homeschool day and take a break. If it’s rainy, we watch movies or documentaries all day. If it’s nice, we head outside to explore nature.
If your child is bulking at their lessons on a particular day, it’s okay to stop and come back the next day.
There is No Such Thing as Ahead or Behind
Despite what the government and public school system say, there is no such thing as ahead or behind.
We all have different life experiences. These experiences are what shape our unique learning timeline. Since we all have different experiences, we all are ready and motivated to learn specific skills at different times.
Grade levels and standards are something people in suits make up and most are not developmentally appropriate, nor do they take into consideration the diverse experiences each child encounters.
Trust your child’s unique learning timeline. If you feel they should be learning a specific skill, figure out a way to introduce it in a natural way to gauge their readiness.
No matter how hard we try, a child is not going to be motivated to learn a specific skill unless they have a reason for learning it. You telling them they’ll need it in the future is not a good enough reason for them.
Related: Our Unique Learning Approach
I love scrolling through Instagram, but I always leave feeling like an inadequate homeschooler. My house doesn’t look like those on Instagram, so I constantly question why.
Most of what you see on Instagram and Pinterest are staged. It’s not what real homeschooling looks like (psst… if you want an inside look of our homeschool, unfiltered…click here to follow our Instagram).
Methods Don’t Matter
As a first time homeschool mom, you’ve probably spent a lot of time on Pinterest or Google. In the midst of that search, you’ve probably read about 10 different homeschooling methods all claiming to be the one that will solve all your problems.
There is no one size fits all homeschooling method. It’s better to choose aspects from different methods that work well for your family instead of trying to make your family fit into one specific method.
Relax. Take your time. Trust in the process. And most importantly enjoy this year as a first-time homeschool mom.
Traditional Education Standards Are Failing 65% of Students
It's Time To Do Something About That!
Download our free guide on the developmentally appropriate, natural learning standards. Use the research-based guidelines to help you understand what and when your child should be learning specific skills, so you can get your child’s homeschool plan completed in 30 minutes without spending hours researching curriculum.