Homeschool top tips
There is no right or wrong way
Some people know that they want to homeschool and their children never enter the school system. They very likely already know how they intend to homeschool, often inspired by reading about a certain method. Others, like myself, start much later and often without much time for planning what we are going to do. It is important to remember that it does not matter when or why you homeschool, or which method you choose to follow (if any!).
The law in England (at time of writing) says that we have to provide our children with the equivalent of a full time education, but we are not required to follow the national curriculum. Therefore, you have the choice of which style of home educating you follow and there are so many to choose from. Popular choices seem to be Charlotte Manson, world schooling, Montessori or unit studies.
People often talk about deschooling children who have previously been in the school system to help them adjust to homeschooling. The idea is giving children time to forget all of the things that they so far will associate with learning which they have learnt at school.
If you went to school yourself, then I think that it is important that you deschool yourself as well. You need to step away from a lot of ideas about learning only happening at a desk and being done a certain way.
Trial and error
Often some trial and error is needed in order to establish what will work best for you and your child and that is okay. You may even find that after a couple of years of following a certain method, you then need to have a complete change up to fit with current circumstances. We have been using a topic based approach so far which is very similar to the American unit study. It is working really well for us at the moment, but should Faith want to take GCSE’s when she is older, then I will have to change up what we are doing to fit with that new need.
Make use of free resources
On the internet there are so many free resources available. I try and only use websites that are UK based and trusted so that I am not teaching Faith any wrong information! Many educational websites have free trials which are worth making the most of and do not forget about the bloggers who homeschool. There are lots of ideas and free printables on this blog and many other uk blogs which can be really useful.
Youtube is another great source as you will find so many tutorials for art projects and craft skills. Then there are documentaries which can be a great way for kids to learn and are free as part of the TV services you already pay for. I have found some great programs on Netflix which we already pay for anyway.
Then there is your local library where you can loan lots of books for free each month. Our library service has been so useful as I would not have been able to afford to buy all of the books that we have read and used since February 2019.
Join online groups and forums for support
There are lots of groups and forums with like minded homeschool mums and dads to offer advice and support. I am in many Facebook groups for home educating and they have been so useful, offering loads of homeschool top tips. They are also great for when things have been difficult as there is always someone around to offer advice, or just to let you know that it is not just you, everyone has lows with the highs of homeschool!
Connect with homeschoolers in your local area
Within the groups and forums you will see links to local homeschool groups who meet up in the real world. It is often worth trying to go to some of them if you can, as you get to make friends and so does your child. We have not been to very many groups as we are limited by the fact that I do not drive and there does not seem to be very much going on in our area for older children.
If you can not find any suitable local groups then you could be brave and start your own if you have the time. It takes a big commitment to start your own group but I imagine that it would be very rewarding and a great way to socialise.
It is worth planning your homeschool journey so that you have all of the things that you need and you can see how much you are covering, but your plans are not set in stone. If you start something and you can see that your child is not engaging with it at all then you can simply stop and move on to something else. Equally, if you are learning about something and you see your child is really loving it then you can extend that part. Let your child take the lead with what else they would like to learn about in that subject.
That is why I like to think of my homeschool planning as being flexible. I plan ahead the topic and the things that I would like to include in that topic but I have the flexibility to change things as needed to fit with Faith and her learning needs.
Under current law and guidance in England, homeschoolers do not have to provide evidence or reports about the education that they are providing their child. However I still like to keep a record of what we are covering, just in case that changes.
It does not have to be anything too detailed or take up much time. I just keep all of our plans in a folder on my computer and keep all work completed on paper so that I have evidence should I need it. I also record a lot of our learning on social media and this blog for memories, which could also be used for evidence should the need ever arise.
Tailor it to you and your family
This is one of my favourite things about homeschool! You do not have to stick to ‘school hours’ and terms with you learning. You can do what is best for you and your family life. Some people have no set times or days as they believe that every day children are learning. Others like to homeschool in the early part of the day, so that the rest of the day is more relaxed and allows time for other things. For people who struggle with mental health in the winter, they have a long break in December and January and then school through the summer.
Everyone is different so you need to tailor your child’s education to what will make your life better, rather than what someone tells you to do (aka the normal school system!)
Be kind to yourself!
The very fact that you are reading this suggests that you want the best for your child and you want their homeschool experience to be a good one. Therefore, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Give yourself some time for what you enjoy and take time for self-care. It is not selfish to look after yourself, you are actually modelling great life skills by doing so. You will have bad days, everyone does but the good by far outweighs the bad and you are making memories to last a lifetime. So take a moment every now and then to congratulate yourself on the fantastic job that you are doing!