If your child isn’t excelling in their current learning situation, you might be asking yourself, “How Do I Homeschool My Child?” The transition from public school to homeschool can be both empowering and jarring at the same time. Basically, you are going against the status quo. You are going to get questioned and you will probably question yourself from time to time. Always remember, nobody knows your child as well as you do and therefore, no one is better equipped to educate them.
The first couple weeks of the transition can be challenging. The key is to remove all pressure from both you and your child and assimilate yourselves to the change in lifestyle. Below are some steps that worked really well during our transition to a child-led learning approach over three years ago, and they can be used as a guide for any family transitioning from a structured learning environment to an interest-led, child-centric approach.
Assess the Current Learning Environment
If you’re in a high-stress, anxious learning environment, I would recommend taking a few weeks, or even a month off to just enjoy each other and enjoy life. If your days have been filled with trying to get your child(ren) to sit still, not forget their lunchbox, hurry out the door and put their shoes on faster, you might all be in need of a break!
This break doesn’t have to be completely void of learning! Plan outings, nature walks, visit the museum, find some homeschool meet-ups. Note that these options do not place demands on you or your child to “perform” but allow for natural learning opportunities.
Create A Fun Homeschool Space
Contrary to what you see on Instagram and Pinterest, you do not need a huge space with butterfly posters lining the walls. In fact, we started out with an amazing homeschool room (and I took lots pictures!) Then, we ended up doing most of our homeschooling at the kitchen counter, on the living room floor and at the dining table. Your homeschool space can be anywhere. It doesn’t need to be a large space and it probably shouldn’t be an isolated space, unless your child prefers to work alone. My children gravitate toward me and I am usually in the kitchen, so that’s where we get a lot of work done!
Homeschool Cart vs. Homeschool Room
Since we move from room to room during out day, I like the idea of a homeschool cart filled with educational, fun materials. Depending on the age and interests of your child, this can include art supplies. STEM activities like gears, building materials and coding programs can all be included here. I even include learning materials like lift-the-flap Usborne books, handwriting and cursive workbooks and math word problems. You never what might spark your child’s interest.
Create a Couple Invitation to Play Scenarios
I mention Invitation to Play in every blog post, because it’s such a fantastic way to get your kids involved. The other day, I left out kinetic sand in a huge plastic sled on my kitchen counter. The set includes little castles and shapes. Before I knew it, they were creating an entire city that looked like Ancient Egypt! We started checking out pictures online and it created a really interesting learning opportunity.
Q: “How DO I Homeschool”
A: “Start Your Day With Play”
All too often I (we?) get into these patterns where we have our morning coffee, unload the dishwasher, take a shower, etc and then start school – whether it be getting out the door, or schooling in our homes. Lately, I’ve taken a step back and started the day out with play. This includes me and the kids. Sometimes we build train tracks, sometimes it’s a marble run or a puzzle or a game. Starting the day off with something fun lessens anxiety about schoolwork and starts everyone off in a good mood!
I know some people do a morning basket with special books, art and games that they use to start the day off right. Others start with yoga. Whatever you start with, I think it’s important to have an calm opening as opposed to diving right into work.
Q: “How Do I Homeschool?”
A: “Ask Your Child for Input”
If your child was in a public school program before, this may seem foreign to them. They might not know how to respond. What do they want to learn about? What are their interests? Make a list together and discuss focus subjects based on their interests. Don’t expect these subjects to mirror what they were learning in a more standardized environment, but trust that history, science, math and language arts can be integrated in almost any interest. Rather than happening in a structured scenario, with blocks dedicated to each subject, you will be exploring the subject through an interest-based lens.
Have Fun Together!
If you’re still asking yourself that same question, “How do I homeschool?” The most important answer is the basis of life – have fun together! Leveraging some, or all of these transition tactics will help you tune into your child and create a child-led learning environment that will provide your child with scaffolding and opportunities to love learning, retain knowledge and access information in way that is adapts to his/her learning style. Always remember, it’s about teaching your child how to love learning and creating a lifelong learner. There is not a right or wrong way to learn, and once you hone in on your child’s learning style, by letting them take the lead, they will thrive!