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Top 10 Tips for Homeschoolers

Homeschooling is an excellent alternative method to educate your child or children. It allows you to spend more time with your kids, and to structure their classes to suit their temperaments. This is a list of ten useful tips for homeschoolers or people thinking of taking it up.

1. Know the laws in your place of residence

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This one is particularly important since laws regarding schooling can vary from state to state, and country to country. Do some research before you start and find out what is required and what isn’t. Some places require meticulous record keeping and others only require the student to be evaluated regularly. Make life easier on yourself and just find out.

Get all the help you need with The Big Book of Homeschooling at Amazon.com!


2. Talk to your children

Talking

While the decision to home school ultimately rests with you as a parent, it is always a good idea to discuss it with your children. Let them know why you are thinking about it and what benefit you think it will have. Listen to any concerns that they may have and discuss solutions and strategies. If a child is adamantly opposed to homeschooling, it may not be a good idea to attempt it. Homeschooling really works best when everyone is working together.

3. Frequently use a library card

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This one should go without saying. A library card is like a treasure chest. I have heard it said that in the beginning a child learns to read. After that they read to learn. Encourage a love of learning. Visit the library often. Encourage your child to pick out many different kinds of books. Take advantage of the resources available to you as well; there are books specifically written for home schoolers that would cost hundreds of dollars to buy.


4. Have an internet connection

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This is a tremendous tool. There are so many websites and groups dedicated to education in general and homeschooling in particular. There are places with printable activities, curriculums about specific topics, forums with other home schoolers, and so much more. Just trust me, have an internet connection and use it. Oh – and don’t forget to include The List Universe 101 in your curriculum.

5. Extra curricular activities

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Socialization can be one of the biggest problems when it comes to homeschooling. The concern is that if a child is not in class room with other children, they might have a difficult time relating to their peers. This is easily solved! Get your child involved in group activities of another sort: sports, martial arts, clubs, play groups, or anything that gets them around other children on a regular basis.


6. Find other home schoolers in your area

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Other home schoolers can be a wealth of information and support. They will have often tried various curriculums and methods and can give feedback on what did and didn’t work for them and why. They might even have an old unused or reusable curriculum laying around. If you can’t find any near you, which is possible, look for other home schoolers online.

7. Be realistic about time and effort

Time

Homeschooling is both labor and time intensive – especially with a younger student that needs more supervision and guidance, and even more so when you are teaching more than one child. This is not to say that it is difficult, just that it requires discipline. It will take several hours a day and a certain amount of organizational skills. I am not saying that it is the most difficult thing in the world, it really isn’t, just don’t fool yourself into expecting everything to be perfect and easy.


8. Explore your options

B015 Classical Education And Homeschool

Some parents are more comfortable with a set curriculum, others prefer to have a less structured style. Think about your strengths and weaknesses and what you want to achieve with homeschooling. If it is legal in your country, you can even find the old classical curriculums online that were taught in schools many years ago – there is nothing wrong with learning a bit of Latin or Greek at a young age.

9. Be willing to be flexible

flexible

Like any decision that one makes regarding their children nothing goes quite the way you expect it to. You may start with a strict curriculum and decide that it is not allowing your children to progress at their own pace, slowing them down in some areas or leaving them behind in others. Alternately you may find that you need more structure if you find that you aren’t getting things done or you have no idea what you are supposed to be teaching for your child’s age group. Just be flexible and willing to make whatever changes it takes to make it work for your family. Understand that most children will excel in a subject or two and have more difficulties in others. If your child takes to reading and science like a fish to water but math leaves them cold, allow them to move through at their own pace. Let them push through the good stuff as fast as they like, and make the time to focus with them on areas that are difficult. This is one of the most beneficial aspects of homeschooling. You don’t have a classroom to keep up with or hold back with. Take advantage of it. Also, be willing to admit if it just isn’t working for you. It’s not the end of the world if you can not make homeschooling work for your family. Bear in mind that you can still be very involved in your child’s learning process, just in a different way.

10. Have patience

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Finally, patience is essential. Be patient with yourself and your child. There are going to be days when everything goes splendidly, and others when it seems like nothing is working. Trying to plod along on a bad day is often completely counterproductive. Take a breather and come back relaxed. Don’t expect everything to go perfectly. Just take a deep breath and work through the issues as they come up.

Contributor: heavenlymayday

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  • DMH: Interesting – thanks for sharing that.

    • Anax

      , “If that happened with pubilc school kids, they would all walk away and act like nothing happened, or worse, laugh. Especially the siblings.” And I realized it’s true. My kids don’t care about age barriers, and they don’t care about socially enforced age segregation and they don’t care about showing their feelings of protectiveness to their siblings in fear they won’t look “cool”. Thank the Lord my kids LOOK different.

  • dalandzadgad

    this list is a good one, might use it in the near future ;)

  • dalandzadgad: It is – I think heavenlymayday did a good job!

  • heavenlymayday

    Yay!

  • Ravyn

    It is a very good list. I just don’t see me using it ever. I like my free time away from the kids.

  • DMH

    Interesting enough, I work in a Virtual Academy in CO, the tips listed are all excellent ideas. For those families who are still interested in home-schooling, but are a little hesitant about the amount of dedication or lack of support, Virtual Academies are a great alternative. They allow you to learn at home while still being enrolled in a public school, with all the support that comes with it. Didn’t mean for this to become a sales pitch, but if anyone is interested, please check out their own states VA (virtual academy).

  • MrSelfdestruct

    There are two important factors that should also be mentioned: Writing and LD/Speech and Language issues.

    As a college educator, most of the homeschooled children that I see are deficient in their writing abilities. I have recommended a good portion of them to my campus’s tutoring center. I don’t know if there is established data regarding writing and homeschooling, I am just reporting what I observe.

    In discussing my childrens’ education, my wife, an accomplished Speech/Language Pathologist, has informed me that, all too often, learning and speech deficiencies are commonly overlooked by the parents because they can be hard to detect, even for an expert.

    I do like the devotion in this list to socializing. From what I have read, low social abilities are often found in children who are homeschooled.

  • JOE ROSSON

    My sister homeschooled her children and they turned out great, hard workers, raising their families and are totally self sufficent.Homeschooling is good for the right people, but not everyone.I like it because the homeschooled children don’t have to deal with public school problems like bullying, drug influences, ,strange people that hang around schools or sexual issues that can happen on occasion,or gang issues.

  • MrSelfdestruct – your observations are very interesting – thanks. Though I must say they are quite the opposite to my own experiences. I spent some time staying with a family of 12 who homeschooled their children – they were the brightest most eloquent children I had met. They were years ahead of other children of the same age and they were extremely well adjusted socially.

    Joe – I agree completely – those are all excellent points in support of it.

  • petey mcgee

    every homeschooled child i have ever known has no social skills whatsoever. I think that the socialization is the most important part. in fact, i remember a homeschooled student joining us in highschool and leaving after a month. she couldn’t handle being around all the people. you can always pick out a homeschooler, and i think they are at a significant disadvantage for college.

  • MrSelfdestruct

    I have nothing against homeschooling. I have worked/taught/interacted with people who were homeschooled and I have no problems. They have their ups and downs just like anyone who was raised in a public or private school.
    I believe that the key to the argument is based in the skills of the parent. I have seen some students who were taught better at home than I was in a public school. I have also had students whose parents seemed to take on homeschooling without any idea of what teaching entails. It is to those parents that I will pass this list on to.

  • Kwame

    One other important point: Be honest with yourself about what you’re capable of doing as an instructor. The source of most student deficits in home-schooling comes from ill-prepared parents who assume they’re teaching all the students need to know.

  • MrSelfDestruct: I think you have probably hit on the head the nail (sorry – I am still thinking in rhetoric mode after the 10 Rhetorical Figures article). And because you are probably right, this list can be very valuable because it points out the need to get your children socializing. In the case of the children I knew, they had a lot of out-of-the-home activities to partake of and they did. I would still homeschool my own children if I had any. I simply don’t trust any government in the world at present to educate my child.

  • Kwame: right – my last answer applies to your comment too.

  • Great list! The decision to home educate our kids using a classical method has been the best one we have ever made, and I agree with MrSelfDestruct who said the parent’s skills make the difference…I personally wouldn’t recommend homeschooling unless you feel called to the task because it can be overwhelming at times if you are not sure that this path is for your family. As I mentioned, it has been my best decision but also the most difficult thing I have ever done. It’s one of those decisions that sort of hangs out there waiting to be confirmed until many years later when the kids are grown and successful. Until then you hold your breath, pray alot, and keep pushing onward.

  • TheClassicalScholar: you will like our other list then – Top 10 books for a classical education – it explains the full classical syllabus from start to end with books to cover each area.

  • miss_ali1984

    I was homeschooled through Junior High and High School. I asked to be homeschooled because I was not really on top of the social hierarchy at my public school and I wanted to devote more of my emotional energy to STUDY, rather than the ridiculous social games involved in high school. One thing on this list that I highly disagree with is that you need to find other home schoolers. This didn’t work for me because (at least in my region of Texas) most home schoolers are CRAZY Christians. I just had a conversation with a girl who was home schooled K-12 the other day, a college aged girl, and she told me that she doesn’t think that Hillary Clinton should be president because the Bible says it’s wrong. Do you really want your kids associating with these people?

  • MadMonkey

    miss_ali1984, anybody who doesn’t want Hillary for president who I want my kids hanging around :D

    I was homeschooled for my entire 12 years and glad of it… I learned a lot more (in my opinion) than I would have in public school.

    Yes, some homeschoolers grow up with social problems… but so do those who were public schooled. Personally, I don’t know any homeschool kids (that I grew up around or otherwise) who were socially stunted. I can be a loner now and then, but it depends on my mood :)

  • fishing4monkeys

    I’m homeschooled and, contrary to what alot of people think, it’s no harder to make friends then if I was in a public school! I know a few homeschooled kids who do appear to suffer socially to anyone who has gone to public school but that’s just because their friends are homeschooled aswell so they aren’t focused so much on being “cool” or fitting in…they seem to get in alot less trouble aswell…

  • cowsareholy

    i thought the first rule was dont date the teacher

  • Kwame

    Mad Monkey:

    How do you know you learned more than you would have in public school?

    miss_ali1984:

    Yes, I’d want my children associating with them. I’d like to think they’ve been taught well enough to make their own decisions and be able to associate with anyone of their choosing.

  • Rashid

    fxd

  • Vera Lynn

    Good advice here. Good comments, too. A lot of good points were made.

  • My two cents: I was homeschooled in New Zealand from the age of 8. By about 12/13 I was mostly capable of directing my own education with support from my parents. I chose which subjects I wanted to study and when I wanted to study them. Consequently, in my early teens I didn’t study anything more than basic math skills (nothing like algebra, geometry, or calculus) instead focusing on English, literature, history (Classical Studies was my favourite!), art, music, and science.

    Getting into university wasn’t a problem despite never having done any of NZ’s secondary school qualifications. I had an interview with the head of department and started a Bachelor of Applied Science. Despite not having much experience with mathmatics I applied my ‘learning how to learn’ skills to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year statistics at uni and passed everything. Finished my degree at 20 (the only one of the 30 people I began it with to complete it in three years) and started a Master of Mineral Resources.

    Contrary to the expectations of some commenters here I have good social skills, excellent relationships with my family and friends, and a generally positive attitude towards people in general. I think being homeschooled gave me a definite advantage in learning to interact with others.

    If I ever have children – they’ll be homeschooled.

  • Tempyra: 3 cheers to you! My own experiences of homeschooling in NZ are the same – I wasn’t homeschooled myself, but I have spent a fair amount of time with people who were or parents who were doing it. I was always incredibly impressed. Good on you for showing how well it can work – especially in light of some of the negative comments here.

  • Thanks JFrater :-)

    Isn’t it interesting how a few of the commenters on this list talk about homeschooling disadvantaging the social life of homeschooled children but no-one really stops to think whether ‘forced’ socialisation is good for us?

    I don’t know exactly at what point in history schooling began to be structured by age but I think it’s fairly recent (150 years?) – the concept of putting 30 or 40 children exactly the same age together for 6+ hours a day 5 days a week is a bit unnatural when you think about it in comparison to before regimented education. It might be normal now, but it is really that beneficial to children’s social development?

  • MPW

    good point Tempyra,btw I’m not stalking you I’m just bored:)

  • It’s easy to follow people around Listverse via the recent comments isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be cool if Listverse had a whole page that was just recent comments on all lists? That’s my bright idea for today.

    Did you go to school MPW? Still there? :-P

  • MPW

    I went to public school and now I’m in College, me in college

    that idea could work, better run it by the big guy

  • You’re American right? So college = university?

    Does JFrater have a suggestions page somewhere or does one just email him? If he doesn’t have a suggestions page I’m claiming it as my next brilliant Listverse idea :-D

  • Pingback: google alert : NZ homeschool « NZ Home Education()

  • aahhMangoJuice

    ..also, I was raised as a normal child, meaning I actually went real schools and had normal childhood ups and downs. I have multiple college degrees and am a member of Mensa.

    • bionicragdoll

      I plan on home schooling my children because I do not trust the government to raise them. In my opinion public schools are far too politically correct and seem more intent on punishing success and suppressing imagination. I believe home schooling my kids will allow them to develop their personalities, talents, and interests without all the pressures of teachers and peers telling what is cool, what they good/not good at etc. I’m not being selfish I’m going to do what I believe is best for my children which exactly what every parent should do.

      And yes I do plan on enrolling my kids in extracurricular activities so they can socialize and make friends.

  • aahhMangoJuice

    Selfish and insecure people homeschool their children. LEARNING IS SO MUCH MORE THAN ACADEMICS. You should have the confidence in your parenting to believe you are raising your child well enough to function in a normal classroom setting and experience normal childhood experiences.

  • TheLordsCanary

    I was homeschooled from 1st grade all the way through high school graduation and I am a pretty darn normal person as far as I can tell. I’ve never had any social problems, nor has anyone else I’ve known that was homeschooled, and I knew quite a few. People can never tell that I’ve been homeschooled unless I tell them myself. My college GPA is a 3.9 on a 4.0 scale.

    I really think that it depends on the child and it depends on the parents. Homeschooling worked very well for me, but it didn’t work out so well for my younger sister. However, she didn’t decide to go to public high school. She skipped through her last two years of high school altogether and was allowed to attend college in a dual-enrollment program. That basically means she’s attending college classes and getting both high school credit and college credit for them. It’s a nice opportunity if you can handle it, and she has been attending college for a year and a half and has been handling it just fine.

  • Katherine

    Great list. I’m a little late to comment, but I wanted to say something!

    I was homeschooled for my entire education, and I’m a college graduate, so I suppose that proves that it works on some level. As for the comments from MrSelfDestruct about language skills suffering, I was, strangely, the exact opposite. My language and writing skills soared above my math skills, though I’m not bad at math, either, and I excelled in science. I finished high school by 15, and entered college at 16. I just recently graduated with a degree in English literature, and even landed myself on the Dean’s list a few times along the way.

    This isn’t to say those skills won’t suffer in other homeschooled children, but I think it has more to do with the interests of the parents and the child that determines where the child will excel. If parents dedicate themselves to providing a well-rounded education, the children should do fine. Tutoring is also one of the greatest tools for a homeschooler, since parents can only go as far as their own knowledge and chosen curriculum allows.

    As far as social skills, I’ve noticed that they often suffer in the homeschooled children of religious background. Some of my family members were homeschooled and have great difficulty socializing, but they are also members of a very strict and judgemental church. This is not a negative comment on religion, but the denominations that promote homeschooling tend to also promote a sort of… closed-off attitude toward the rest of the world. This is just in my own experience, and it isn’t a hard and fast rule.

    My mother and father are atheist and agnostic, respectively, and gave me an education at home because they felt a public school was not the right environment for me to learn and grow as a human being. So, as it had nothing to do with religion, I feel they spent more time making sure I was properly socialized, with both adults and my peers.

    Overall, my experience homeschooling was overwhelmingly positive, and I plan to do it with my own children in the future. I intend to give them the option, once they reach high school age, to attend a regular school. However, if they’re anything like me, they’ll pick homeschooling. :)

  • Fury2.0

    As a home schooled student myself, I did not have a strong work ethic. I blame only myself. So it’s not for everybody.
    Homeschooling is great for students who are focus, willing to work with parents behind them. And I’m sure there are ways to socialize with other kids, so they won’t be always alone. My experience was mixed, I’ve could have done a lot better, but I can’t change the past.
    All and all, when considering home schooling, weight in the pros and cons.

  • Zoombafoo

    aaahmangojuice tell me,has a homeschool girl EVER become pregnant at the age of 12? I DONT THINK SO. how many girls at your school have become pregnant at the age of twelve? probably a lot. homeschoolers know a LOT better than to do stuff like that because they were raised PROPERLY!!!!

  • tropical

    as someone from england, a home-schooled child is very much a rarity here. I dont think i have ever met anyone, who is or even knows a homeschooled child. In fact i think its so rare in the uk that people would like quite strangely upon someone who was homeschooled especially their parents. sad but true. anyway its interesting to see that their are quite a few people just on this site who were homeschooled. random question to you homeschoolers: did you have an actual set timetable every day, did you work at a desk etc or was it quite free and flexible?
    imo, some of my best experiences at school were with friends, getting up to silly things at break and just making general relationships. i think school is so, sooooo much more than just a place to go study. i would not want any child i have to miss out on those experiences.

  • tropical

    as someone from england, a home-schooled child is very much a rarity here. I dont think i have ever met anyone, who is or even knows a homeschooled child. In fact i think its so rare in the uk that people would like quite strangely upon someone who was homeschooled especially their parents. sad but true. anyway its interesting to see that their are quite a few people just on this site who were homeschooled. random question to you homeschoolers: did you have an actual set timetable every day, did you work at a desk etc or was it quite free and flexible?
    imo, some of my best experiences at school were with friends, getting up to silly things at break and just making general relationships. i think school is so, sooooo much more than just a place to go study. i would not want any child i have to miss out on those experiences.

  • tropical

    woops sorry for double post

  • Kessie

    tropical, I was homeschooled by my dad, and he did give us a set timetable for some things. We had to get up at a certain time in the morning, we usually worked at desks, and he timed us for quizzes and tests. We could do our homework wherever and whenever we wanted, though (within reason). I usually did mine in the top of a tree.

    I had friends, and we got up to silly things and shared our lives. I had friends I played sports with, friends I went to church with, friends I kickboxed with and friends I rode horses with. Being homeschooled doesn’t mean isolation. It can, but it certainly doesn’t have to.

    My dad chose to homeschool his children because he knew he could do it and because our local schools were utterly abysmal. There were no other homeschoolers in the area, but he made sure to give us plenty of social opportunities. I played sports and had a lot of friends. I transitioned into college very easily (as did my sister), and through my first two years I have a 3.9 GPA. I am the opposite of what MrSelfDestruct describes: I’m gifted in English but have always had to work much harder at math.

    Homeschooling is only as good as the parents who do it. I have known a few homeschooled kids who were badly educated and socially stunted. But I believe that homeschooling, when done right, has incredible potential. If/when I have children, I intend to homeschool them until high school, at which point I will probably give them the option of going to a school.

  • Ti

    I’m particularly glad I was homeschooled. I was a fast learner in every subject EXCEPT MATH. I was able to zip through all of these other subjects and finish them up much faster, but math I struggled with–so I was able to be held back with my studies in math and actually learn them instead of pushing forward and failing.

    I started with a set timetable and as I was a very independant learner, through highschool I just took my books into my room and went through them and gave them back to be marked.

    And no, I am not socially stunted. (rolls eyes) I know a few socially awkward homeschooled kids but me and my siblings? People are generally surprised since we break all the stereotypes of ‘homeschooled’. Don’t get me wrong, there are some people who follow the stereotype of socially awkward homeschoolers… there’s a measure of truth in every cliche… but not all of us are. In fact, the method of learning is better for some people. As I said: I was good at everything but math. Yeah, it’s not good for everyone–but not everyone learns the same way, and I learned best in a home setting. Mom gave us the choice to go to school once we were junior and highschool aged and if at any point we wanted to change over to public school, we could have. I chose not to.

    I was told when I was in late high school by forumites that I would never get a job because homeschoolers were all stupid and socially inept. Right now I’ve got and am holding a job and I’m working to save for college. :) Sounds pretty normal to me. In fact, this is pretty much what all my normal school friends did… worked and went to college. In fact, I know plenty of public school kids who are quite socially inept. They just don’t get noticed.

  • thegoldenpiano

    Just thought, late as it is, I would say a few things, as an ex-home educator like myself often has the inclination to do.

    MrSelfDestruct. I was a little curious about your statements about us home educators’ skills in literacy, and can say I have almost universally found otherwise. I personally was home educated until I was twelve, and quickly rose to the top of my class (the top class in the year) for English. I have scored full marks on two GCSE courseworks so far, and I am a little curious as to this judgement of home education. I suppose you must have been exposed to a group of us who chose not to study enlgish, in the way one can when one is educated freely. In my household, the direction and pace of my education was left up to me, including when I went to school.

    Also, about the social stuff, yes, some of us are socially inept, as are some school kids. I would wager that it is as common, if not more common among schoolgoers. However this may not account for the huge number of madly uber-christian extremists who withhold their children from school. Their social ineptitude though probably has little to do with their home education.

  • Firesong

    I will testify to being a socially inept student of the public school system. Some of us just hate people.

  • Dazzlings

    I was homeschooled through 5th grade and then 8th grade. When I entered a private school in 6th grade I could've skipped to 7th, but my parents wanted me to be with kids my age. I loved the freedom to travel with my parents and do science and history at the places we visited.

    When I was home there was a set schedule and room for study. My mom was my main teacher, but as I advanced my dad did math and history. They were able to move at my speed (repeat a concept if I didn't understand or move quickly).

    Homeschooling is a BIG job. I think it's easier these days with more resources. Into Jr High and HS I think it's harder to provide a balanced education.

  • ZaPPap

    I am home schooled and scholastically excel my formally schooled peers. I was in public school until 10th grade and found it depressing. I was never a good student but I was in advanced classes and school was a way to escape my unstable household. I’ve always been fond of reading and pretty much self taught even when I was in school. I miss my old teachers and friends but, have found hobbies. I am more motivated for further education because of my diminished social life in contrast to people in school. A parent thinking about making such a decision should speak with their child first and take interest in their education. Getting active in the community and letting them express themselves through certain medians. Even through the recent suicides across the country I feel like it is necessary to be made fun of to a certain extent. I was bullied and it teaches you how to handle situations. Obviously not violence but just conflict helps build character. I learned to defend myself in real situations. Socially I am behind my pupils. Nothing in the world is more important than happiness. What’s the point of being a doctor at age 25 if you are socially retarded and not happy?

  • Homeschooled

    I was home-schooled, and I currently hold three degrees. I have a wide circle of friends, and have no trouble fitting in. People are often surprised to learn that I was home-schooled. I’ve found that the people who insist that this type of early education hinders you both socially and scholastically often do not even what they are talking about.

  • hshss

    I was home schooled K-8

    I decided to start public school this year as a 9th grader in high school because I got bored and tired of the same routine everyday. I wanted to be apart of social ups and downs and a social rank whether it be high or low.

    I’ll let you know that I made a lot of friends right away. And you should definitely understand that I am at the top of my class with over 100% in each subject. So DO NOT EVER SAY that home schooled kids are crazy, dumb, slow, deprived of social skill, or “different” again.

    A child is going to be crazy, slow, mean, shy, quiet, or “different” just because it is who they are not because of whether or not they attend public school.

  • healthy lifestyle

    You really make it seem really easy together with your presentation however I find this matter to be really something that I think I’d never understand. It kind of feels too complicated and very huge for me. I’m looking forward to your next put up, I will try to get the grasp of it!

  • John son of John

    Shalom!!!!!!¡!!