Top tips for successful homeschooling

Top tips for successful homeschooling

Just what “successful” homeschooling looks like will differ from family to family. We all have different goals and value different things. When I first started homeschooling, back in 1995, there weren’t a lot of fellow homeschoolers around, and even fewer who had gone before us. Those who had been brave enough to take the plunge though, were a goldmine of good advice. When looking for advice to help you start homeschooling on the right foot and achieve “success”, it is important to look to the wisdom of experienced, veteran homeschoolers with first hand experience who succeeded in completing the entire journey. This is a round-up of top tips for successful homeschooling that summarises some of the best advice that I received.

Must read: The best homeschooling books of all time.

It’s good to know that some of what I learned from other homeschoolers has stood the test of time and and has worked for others. It’s thoughtful advice resulting from a long commitment to home education. This curated group of homeschool veterans has a combined experience of over 250 years, and their  homeschool advice is both paramount and timeless. I’m sure you’ll find some gems for your own journey.

Reading and maths are your core subjects

Lisa at The Survival Mom has 16 years of homeschooling under her belt. Her top homeschooling tips include proritising maths and reading. “They’re the keys to everything else your kids will learn,” she says.  She also advises that “If something, anything, isn’t working, give it one more try and then move on. There’s no use being a stubborn idiot about it.” Give yourself a little room for trial and error.

My own experience with this situation is to come back to that roadblock down the track, giving your child’s brain a rest. You may be surprised at how they take it in then. Just don’t panic when your child isn’t getting a concept when you think they should.

Don’t feel pressured to do everything yourself – outsource

Wendy and Trish at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers both have successfully graduated homeschool kids. Their tips for new homeschooling parents include getting comfortable with not knowing everything. “You can easily outsource the subjects you don’t feel comfortable teaching. Nowadays there are homeschool co-ops, online curriculum options, and even self-teaching curriculum” to help you along the way. They also caution against trying to finish every single page of the textbook. (Public school teachers don’t).  “It’s always been hard for me when we don’t finish every lesson in every book.” she says, “I’ve had to learn to live with it, though, and after almost 25 years of homeschooling, I must admit it doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it used to!”

Get to know your child’s learning style

Debbie at The Life We Share homeschooled for over 20 years. She suggests worrying less about what your child might be missing by not being in traditional school. Instead, think about all of the extras your child is getting. She says, “I began to appreciate all the unique learning experiences that my children would have.” She also insists you figure out your child’s learning style. “When I began homeschooling, I knew absolutely nothing about learning styles, so it took me a while to learn about styles and then apply them to my children. But once I learned, it radically changed my approach to homeschooling!”

Prioritise relationships and your family culture

Erin at Fearless Homeschool  has been involved in homeschooling since the 1980’s.  She believes that homeschooling is all about relationships. “You may be a family that enjoys reading together, playing board games, enjoying the outdoors, being active, or all these and more. Treasure this time together, it will pass all too quickly, but the foundation laid now will be the bedrock that holds.”  In addition, she suggests immersing your family in rich literature. “Provide quality books for your children to read independently and encourage them to read regularly. Model reading and show your children that literature is valued as part of your family culture. The benefits are many; language skills, literacy skills, a rich imagination, and most of all close family connections.”

Keep planning and record keeping simple

Cindy West at Our Journey Westward is a veteran homeschooler of 20 years, and also has a background in education.  She has tips to help you organize your homeschooling and warns against using complicated planners. “Struggling to keep things in order is not solved by adding more things to keep in order, so don’t try to suddenly adopt a complicated organizational system. Keep it simple. Sometimes embarrassingly so.”

She also feels that keeping a clean “classroom”, or any classroom at all, is a bad idea. “Instead of trying too hard to meet the idealized vision of homeschooling in your minds, embrace who you are and make school work for you. Keep simple multi-purpose storage items such as a bookshelf, sets of drawers, and totes, in one location.”

Get encouragement from fellow home educators

Kathie at The Character Corner gives us her 5 best tips collected from 31 years of homeschooling. They include getting a homeschooling friend who can encourage you. “It was a great encouragement to ME to have a friend that I could talk to.  She had kids about the same ages as mine and was also homeschooling. We had so much in common that we really clicked.”

She also advises to always inspect the work you assign to your children. They won’t do the work or will do a sloppy job if they know you won’t check it. “Part of training our kids is being faithful to follow up on what they’ve been told to do.  When I forget or get too busy to check their charts for a few days, I find they haven’t been doing everything.”

Dovetail your subjects

Dovetailing subjects is one of the best tips for successful homeschooling that I took on.
With five kids to educate, it made complete sense to combine history with English and nature study with science. Reading and vocabulary can also be dovetailed, and will happen fairly naturally if your kids are reading high quality literature. Life skills teach a whole heap of things such as hygiene and personal care when you’re doing housework, or economics when managing time and money.

Smart use of your time will make for shorter days, less stress and you having time to tend to other important things around the home.

Sift through conflicting advice

Not all the advice you get from a veteran home educator will suit your family or philosophy. You’ll be confronted with a plethora of opinions and life choices that you will have to sift through.

If you’re overwhelmed with advice from other homeschooling parents and trying to sort through the ideas and opinions, founder of My Homeschool Michelle Morrow, sifts through the good and the bad advice in this article.

She also has some valuable advice for those of you who are new to homeschooling in a nutshell here.

From prioritising core subjects, to getting organized and immersing your family in rich literature, to making sure you have support and encouragement, these veterans have offered amazing gems of knowledge that when integrated into your homeschool plan will help make your journey a smoother and more relaxed one. Just remember that perfection is not required, but knowing when to get help is imperative. That said, don’t forget to analyse your child’s learning style and don’t forget to check their work!

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