We gathered helpful homeschooling tips from experts and parents into one big list of ideas, recommendations, and suggestions to help you give the best homeschooling experience to your kids.
As schools across the country remain closed and unlikely to reopen soon because of the coronavirus crisis, more parents are choosing to supervise their children’s education at home. A recent RealClear Opinion Research survey of 2,122 registered voters revealed that four out of 10 families are more likely to continue homeschooling or virtual school education even after lockdown restrictions are lifted.
This “new normal” in education presents challenges and opportunities for parents and children. The challenge for parents is to provide a productive and fulfilling homeschooling experience to their children. At the same time, shifting to homeschooling also offers parents the opportunity to monitor and support their child’s education more closely. Whether a parent or an online teacher conducts it, a good homeschooling experience should empower the students to achieve their academic goals.
Transitioning to homeschooling from traditional classroom learning is not easy, especially for newbies. Thankfully, there is an abundance of resources from education experts and parents who have considerable experience in homeschooling that offer helpful ideas and recommendations for parents like you who are just starting with homeschooling.
We hope the following tips will help you and your kids in your new homeschooling journey:
Getting started with homeschooling
Check your state’s homeschool laws. When you decide to shift to homeschooling, one of the first things you should do is to learn more about your state’s homeschool rules. Although all states allow parents to educate their children, the rules vary from state to state. The HSLDA website provides summaries of each state’s homeschooling laws. We recommend calling your local school district and completing any paperwork required by your state to avoid unnecessary problems.
Ask for assistance from your local school district. Reach out to your local school district to determine what resources, such as curriculum, online learning platforms, supplies are available to you.
Choose the right curriculum. Take some time to think about which homeschool curriculum to use. Research your homeschool options and always consult with your child’s teachers to help you find a curriculum that works best.
Review the instructions from your child’s teachers. Find out what is expected from your child when it comes to completing assignments and schoolwork online.
Hold a family meeting. When you have gathered all the information you need, sit down with your family, and talk about the “new normal”. Make it a point to communicate to your children that while they may be learning at home, there are still expectations to be met. Make sure other members of the family are also prepared–homeschooling will be a team effort!
Go through the deschooling process. Deschooling is the adjustment period between conventional classroom learning to homeschooling. The deschooling process allows your child to recalibrate their natural love of learning and adapt to the new dynamics.
Take pictures. Make your children’s first day of homeschool feel more special and memorable by taking photos as souvenirs.
Setting up your homeschool learning space
Set up a dedicated space for learning. Create a homeschooling space in your house where your child can focus on learning. There are no clear guidelines on what a home classroom should look like, but make sure your space caters to your child’s individual needs.
Keep your learning space clean, neat, quiet, and free from distractions. A cluttered and noisy environment can negatively affect the effectiveness of the lessons. Tidying your homeschool space is also an opportunity to teach your kids the value of cleaning up and being organized.
Stock up on essential educational items and tools. Provide your homeschoolers with all the tools they need to accomplish their school projects and assignments. These will include basic supplies like pencils, sheets of paper, notebooks, pens, crayons, whiteboards, bulletin boards, bookcases, a standard desk, comfortable chairs, learning games, laptop, tablet, ample storage containers, etc.
If creating a separate schoolroom is not possible, you can set up a small desk in your dining room or living room, or you may use the kitchen table just like what many homeschool students do.
If you have two or more kids, consider having different desks or learning stations to minimize distractions.
Personalize your child’s home learning space. Create a space conducive for learning where your child can cultivate healthy and consistent study habits. Make it bright, colorful, and interesting!
Tips for organizing your homeschool
- Take the time to plan your day, week, and month realistically. Even if you don’t strictly follow your schedule, using a planner will help save time and makes it less likely to forget assignments that need to be done and requirements that need to be completed.
Wake up earlier than your children and start school early. Waking up a little earlier than your kids do lets you have a head start to prepare for the day. Mornings are also the best time for lessons.
- Have a short meeting at the beginning of the school day and a wrap-up meeting at the end of the school day. Daily meetings help you stay on top of everything and make sure all assignments are completed. Ending the school day with a wrap-up also gives kids a clear sense of accomplishment for the day.
- Have a bulletin board/communication center. Keep a whiteboard or corkboard where you can post and organize homeschool and family activities. You can also use the board to post friendly reminders about assignments and chores.
Homeschool teaching tips and ideas
Determine and master your children’s learning style. Every child has a unique learning style. By identifying your children’s preferred learning style and adjusting your teaching method accordingly, you set them up for success. We recommend reaching out to your child’s teachers to help you determine and understand your child’s learning style.
Begin the day with the hardest subject. By starting the day with the most difficult lessons, usually reading or math, the rest of the day will be easier.
Include plenty of time for reading in your child’s schedule. Experts recommend a minimum of 20-30 minutes of reading every day to keep up literacy skills.
Have them start and keep a journal. Encourage kids to document their day-to-day events and their thoughts and feelings by writing a daily homeschooling journal.
Teach in short bite-sized sessions. Microlearning is a teaching style that consists of short bursts of highly engaging and interesting information. A paper by the Journal of Applied Psychology reveals that microlearning makes the transfer of knowledge 17% more efficient.
Teach life skills. Household chores and life skills provide a wealth of learning opportunities.
Let kids learn at their own pace. Homeschooling offers individualized learning and instruction that allows students to learn at their own pace based on their learning style, personality, speed, and needs.
Add play-based learning into your curriculum. Not only is it fun to integrate play into your lessons, but decades of educational research also reveals the importance of play in developing imagination, creativity, social and emotional skills.
Let them pursue passion projects. With more free time at home, now is the best time to encourage kids to pursue hobbies and interests such as learning a new musical instrument, painting, baking, etc.
Health and wellness tips when homeschooling
Get physically active. Make sure you and your kids spend time exercising together. This is an excellent way to build a strong bond, stay healthy, feel motivated, and productive all at the same time. Set aside at least an hour each day to do some exercises, whether inside the house or out on your backyard.
Get enough sleep. With homeschooling, your life will be centered around your child. Be sure to have adequate sleep so that you can function at your best when guiding your child through their daily lessons.
Find time for relaxation. During these uncertain times, it is vital to keep your mind focused and relaxed. Set aside time to slow down and unwind. Relaxation comes in many forms such as yoga, meditation, gardening, reading, music, etc. Develop a routine that lets you take some time off during a busy day.
Prioritize your child’s mental health. These are extraordinary and stressful times for everyone, especially for young children and teens. They may be worried about school, missing their friends and classroom peers, or feel overwhelmed. Be a source of comfort and stability for your child.
Homeschooling motivation tips
Reward your child’s efforts. Homeschooling doesn’t have to feel like a punishment. Motivate your kids to give their best when homeschooling by rewarding them with something desirable, such as more screen time or later bedtime, when they accomplish high-quality work.
Be patient. Many parents who have lots of experience homeschooling estimate that it takes about a year to get into the homeschooling groove, so be patient with your child and yourself too.
Switch locations in the house or outdoors to avoid boredom.
Give the kids some control of their schedule. Relieve some of the stress by letting your kids choose the order they want to do the activities required of them.
Announce a surprise “holiday”. When they are performing well, announce an impromptu holiday when they can spend the day doing fun activities of their own choice.
Homeschooling resources tips
Use free online resources. There are many awesome sites and platforms online that provide free educational content to help maximize your kids’ homeschooling experience.
Here are some of the best homeschooling resources online:
- Khan Academy – offers lessons on a vast range of subjects, especially math and science, for free.
- PBS Kids – Offers engaging and informative kid-friendly games
- Mystery Science – Provides plenty of lessons in science, with videos, hands-on experiments, and downloadable activities. Offers a free one-year membership.
- Prodigy Math – A free, online math platform that has an entertaining and engaging video game-style interface.
- No Red Ink – A free, online writing, and grammar resource that can help your kids develop their writing skills.
- Open Culture – Provides access to over 1,500 free, online audio and video courses from top universities, including a thousand free audiobooks.
Join homeschool groups. Know that you are not alone in your homeschool journey. You can find helpful local groups on Facebook that lets you connect with other homeschool families in the area. Check out HSLDA’s list of national and state homeschooling organizations here.
Tap your local homeschool community. Find a homeschool group in your city where you can reach out and communicate with fellow homeschooling parents. You can trade tips, ideas, and resources that enhance your homeschooling journey. You can find homeschooling groups on HSLDA’s website and even on social networks like Facebook.
Visit virtual museums, zoos, and natural parks. There are many museums and natural parks that offer virtual tours during the coronavirus outbreak. You can use these virtual tours to make your child’s lessons more engaging.
Here’s a selection of museums offering virtual tours:
Make use of audiobooks. Aside from providing access to a wide range of fiction and nonfiction literature, audiobooks also provide an opportunity for students, especially older kids, to spend some quiet time just listening and learning.
Find free audiobooks in these resources:
Reach out to teachers. Be comfortable reaching out to your child’s teachers to get helpful insights.
Homeschooling with babies and toddlers
Have older kids help younger kids. If you are supervising multiple grades, you can ask your older kids to help the younger ones with their schoolwork. This is also an opportunity to build a stronger bond between siblings.
Take advantage of nap time/quiet time. The older kids can use the younger kids’ nap time to finish schoolwork that needs more focus.
Use a baby sling. With the baby happily snuggled, Mom is free to carry on schooling the other kids.
Read together. Cultivate a culture of reading by requiring all kids a minimum of 30 to 40 minutes of quiet time reading together. This is also a chance for you to take a quick breather.
Give them more control. Let your teen have more control of their schedule and learning environment.
Involve your teen when choosing a curriculum. Allow your teen to choose a topic of study that interests them.
Let them explore other interests. When time and finances permit, let your teen explore their interests such as music, art, sports, etc.
Allow them to manage their time. This is a great opportunity for teens to learn vital time management skills that will benefit them throughout life.
Encourage your teen to volunteer. The teenage years are an excellent time for young people to start becoming involved in their local community in meaningful ways. Even during the coronavirus outbreak, there are opportunities to volunteer like helping the Red Cross, supporting essential workers, making and donating face masks, and more.