When we decided to home school our preschooler and our kindergartner, I felt just as lost as if someone had left me in the wilderness without a map. Which curriculum to buy? Which one has the best way to teach reading and math, especially when my kids had very different learning styles? I needed to research some tips for homeschooling! I decided to break down the process of getting started into these smaller steps that felt less overwhelming:
Decide what your homeschooling style will be
In homeschooling resources, you may find different styles of schooling listed, such as traditional (textbooks and worksheets), unit learning (using themes to organize lessons) and ‘unschooling’ (interest-led schooling). I found that our homeschooling style was actually a mix of these approaches, due to the way my kids learned. We did use some workbooks for tips but to keep them interested and engaged, I would let them use some time for self-directed topics or projects. For example, my son loved learning about how cars work and my daughter enjoyed extra science experiments.
Find the curriculum that matches your homeschooling approach
Attend homeschooling conferences and book fairs to research different curricula and browse through them. Conferences are a good place to compare notes with other homeschooling parents on different curricula they have tried. Be sure to ask them what their homeschooling approach is when gathering feedback on curricula. What worked for their family may not be right for yours if they have a completely different homeschooling philosophy. Also keep in mind that your own approach may change, based on the needs of your individual child, and you may not be able to re-use the same curricula your other kids used.
Find homeschooling resources in your community that fit your family’s style
Don’t try to walk the homeschooling journey alone. Find a homeschooling support group or co-op in your area. The mission for some support groups is to provide opportunities for networking, field trips and extracurricular activities. Others such as co-ops provide the opportunity to share the responsibility for teaching different subjects. If math is not your favorite subject, you could offer to join the co-op and teach science and let another parent take care of that high school geometry your child needs to learn.
I asked Kim Anderson, the founder of one homeschooling co-op in our area, Columbus Catholic Homeschoolers, about her group and tips for homeschooling parents. She said,
“Our group meets every Friday at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church from 9am-11:30am. We have a co-op with classes for all ages. My advice for any new homeschooler would be to listen to your child. For someone who is starting out with your kindergartner, just teach the basics with what your child likes to do. For someone starting out with an older child, give them time to get “old school” out of their system. Let your child feel what it’s like to have time to themselves. Ask your child what interests him and then go from there.”
Take one step at a time and be open to change.
In conclusion, take your time and carefully consider what homeschooling curricula and resources fit your family’s homeschooling philosophy. However, also realize that as kids grow, their learning style and interests evolve, so remain flexible and open to change. At some point, that may mean moving to a new homeschooling cop-op or finding new programs for homeschooling families. No two school years will be the same.
By: Linda Ligon
Linda Ligon is the mom of four who lives in Harris County. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her family.