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Thinking about homeschooling this fall? Keep these 3 things in mind

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The idea of teaching your kids at home might be intimidating, but it’s not as complicated as it might seem.

Ever since the CDC published its new health recommendations for schools reopening, many parents who have never before considered homeschooling find themselves exploring the possibility. If that’s your situation, here are a few pointers to keep in mind as you consider educating your children from home.

1
Remember: you have what it takes.

Homeschooling seems intimidating on the face of it. How is the average parent supposed to know what to teach their child, let alone how?

Fortunately, there’s an enormous world of help out there. Countless homeschool parents and educational experts can hold your hand and walk you through every step of the process, if you want.

Whether you’re looking to learn about styles of homeschooling (and take a quiz to find yours), read curriculum reviews, know your legal rights as a homeschool parent, order a box curriculum, or follow step-by-step instructions on how to get started, there’s an online resource for everything you need.

You don’t need a degree in education (or even a degree at all) to teach your child. Kids love to learn, and they absorb knowledge as naturally as breathing. 

Deep breaths. You’ve got this!

2
Put connection and consistency before curriculum.

As great as it is to have endless resources at your disposal, diving down the rabbit hole of homeschooling research can quickly get overwhelming. How are you supposed to know which curriculum is best?

Here’s a little secret: It doesn’t really matter which curriculum you choose. Most of them offer a good education, as long as you’re consistent in working through them, a little bit at a time. Pick a program that looks interesting and enjoyable to you, and your kids will catch your enthusiasm.

Along the same lines, your relationship with your kids and the peace in your home is more important than hammering through another page of math equations or spelling words. If the lesson is turning into a battle, take a break to play and cool off, and come back to the work later when you’re refreshed.

One of the greatest things about homeschooling is being able to tailor your kids’ education to your schedule and lifestyle, so take full advantage of that perk!

If you do want a few suggestions of curriculum to consider, you might take a look at these popular programs:

3
Keep your expectations reasonable and realistic.

When I started homeschooling, I was worried when it became clear that my kindergartener couldn’t keep his attention on math lessons for longer than 10 minutes. Was something wrong with him? Was he not ready for the work?

Then I found out that the recommended length of sustained attention for a kindergartener is 3-5 minutes. Whoops. The problem wasn’t my kid; it was my unrealistic expectations.

Illinois State Board of Education

If you’re worried about fitting homeschooling into your day, it helps to know that the recommended maximum instructional time for a child in second grade or younger is 90 minutes, and 120 minutes for a child in fifth grade or younger. That’s not nothing, but also it’s not a full six-hour school day.

If you want, you can break up that instructional time in short bursts throughout the day. You might do 5 minutes each of religion and math right after breakfast, another short session of spelling and science before lunch, and work on a foreign language and handwriting in the afternoon. In between these brief academic periods, your child is playing, running around outside, reading, and learning immeasurable amounts just from living.

Some families practice “Sabbath schooling,” which means six-week academic terms followed by a week’s vacation. Others school four days a week and take one day off for field trips, or they do school year-round in order to take days off at will and enjoy off-season vacations. Again, use the flexibility of homeschooling to your family’s advantage.

Homeschooling might not be your first choice, but if you’re thinking about taking the plunge this fall, hopefully these suggestions can help make your temporary academic adventure a treasured lifelong memory for your family.

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