Feeling a little crazy lately? Not sure about this distance learning / homeschool gig? Whether you are new to this because of quarantine, or you made an intentional decision to homeschool your kid, there are some homeschool tips you might want to consider. These suggestions come from MY experiences and may not be “best practices” for homeschooling. If you’re looking for details on HOW to homeschool with specific tools, you will not find that in this post. Make sure to check out our story and why we started homeschooling.
I have personally found that establishing a general mindset and framework around homeschool is super beneficial before you jump in the deep end and drown in all the details. I think it’s more about HOW you go about homeschooling and not WHAT you use to get at all done. What’s your “why”? Most importantly, it’s about not losing what little mind you have left right now! At least summer break is here, right? Let’s talk about ways you can keep from losing it once school starts back up with these homeschools tips.
12 Homeschool Tips
- Have the right mindset!
- Understand your child’s learning style.
- Don’t bring the classroom into the home
- Be the facilitator and not the teacher.
- Be flexible, open minded, and willing to move on.
- STOP comparing!!
- Give yourself AND your kid tons of grace.
- Have a support network with other homeschool families.
- Cry behind closed doors.
- Focus on what’s important -it’s not calculus!!!
- Don’t quit on a bad day.
- Less is more.
- BONUS TIP!!!! Have boxes of wine on hand (vodka if necessary).
Homeschool Tip #1 – Have the right mindset!
So much about homeschooling is having the right mindset. Why are YOU homeschooling? What is the end result that you are after? Do you have a long-term vision for what this looks like in your life? Are your kids on board with the whole idea? Is what you’re doing aligning with your worldview? These are really important questions to consider before you jump in. You don’t necessarily need to have the answers, but you need to be asking the questions. Having a sense of direction and intention will make all the difference in the world. Otherwise, you’ll feel lost with no sense of purpose.
The right mindset also includes knowing that this is a journey and sometimes a marathon. You can have the absolute best homeschool tools out there and still have days go down the crapper. You’re dealing with your children. It is a roller coaster for sure! Commit to the process and honor the struggle. It is because of the struggle that you and your kids will grow and flourish together.
“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly….”
Create a vision/mission statement for your intention behind the reason you are homeschooling. Get specific and really think about it! “Because I have no choice” is also a reason! If things don’t align with your mission, then re-evaluate! You may not know your mission/vision at first, and that’s okay. It will come as you move forward. The only way to find your voice is to start singing. As with most anything new, it will suck at first. Stick with it. Have a vision and move in that direction. Keep singing!
Homeschool Tip #2 – Understand your child’s learning style.
The ability to understand your child’s learning style is paramount. The reason we chose homeschooling in the first place is because a one-size-fits-all model of education in the public school system did not serve our children well. Children learn differently. Understanding this will help you help them and is a top tip for homeschool.
I have two children with very different learning styles. My oldest is capable of getting up, looking at his list for the day, and knocking it out in a few hours so that he has free time. My youngest gets up and plays with Transformers, then Legos, then he goes to the bathroom, and then he eats. After all of this, he finally looks at his list. My oldest does Florida Virtual School online and my youngest, well, we’re still figuring that out.
Part of understanding your child’s learning style is knowing what it’s NOT! I know Brooks cannot do FLVS, as we have tried 3 times. Each time was a disaster. He is blessed with a beautiful ADHD brain, so we’re always trying something new. I had to realize that there were certain ways of being that he is not capable of. He has a superpower, and I don’t want him to lose it. It’s a delicate dance.
I went so far as to have a brain scan done on Brooks. It gave me great insight into how he learns and relates to his environment. I’m still not 100% certain what DOES work for him, but we’re pretty sure about what doesn’t. I know things to avoid, and there are lots of them. For us, it’s still a DAILY struggle, but I’m in it for the long haul. Hell, it’s already been 5 years!
Homeschool Tip #3 – Don’t bring the classroom into the home.
It sounds a little silly, but aren’t you taking them OUT of the classroom for a reason? Putting them in another one isn’t going to solve the problem or get your desired result most likely. In my conversations with other homeschool families, the biggest frustration comes when the homeschool educator wants to create a classroom-like setting and it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for most families. (There are always exceptions, people.) Creating a safe environment that encourages the love of learning is most important. Let kids learn in a setting that they are most comfortable with. Brooks reads upside down on the couch and builds a fort under the table. Bryce likes sitting up in his loft bed, and that works for him.
A flexible schedule works best or us, too. You have the freedom and flexibility to create any environment you want! Do what works for YOU and YOUR child. This includes doing Zoom classes, too. It’s already a little weird for them, so make the environment as comfortable as possible. This is an easier homeschool tip for most to practice.
Homeschool Tip #4 – Be the facilitator and not the teacher.
There is absolutely NO reason to make things more challenging. Please, don’t reinvent the wheel!! There are more resources available than you could ever use. You only need to find what works for you and your kid and then explore those options. You do not need to be a “certified” anything for your kids to get an amazing education at home. If you are doing distance learning through your school, you’ll need to provide IT and emotional support.
I’m constantly looking at options and available resources. I do not need to know how to create a curriculum, decorate a classroom, or handle a classroom full of kids. I really don’t even need to know how to teach math! That’s why I have Khan Academy. I am a mom to my kids and the most important thing is that I understand and listen to them. Understanding my kids allows me to find the best resources for them and the way they learn. So many brilliant educators and people (including others moms) have worked tirelessly to provide the best homeschool resources available. Buy these tools and use them! Let the resources do the teaching and you facilitate the love of learning by creating a supportive and loving environment.
Homeschool Tip #5 – Be flexible, open-minded, and willing to move on.
Flexibility is the name of the game here. Just because something works one year doesn’t mean it will work the next. Your kid grows and changes from year to year, and so should their way of being educated. Be open-minded enough to try new things, even if it’s something you’re not sure about. There are a great deal of programs and curricula that offer free trials and/or a money-back guarantee. I’m not advocating that you break the bank, but be willing to experiment. It’s super frustrating when you’ve made the investment in something that’s not working out. The tendency is to keep going regardless of whether it’s beneficial or not. Being quick to evaluate what’s working or not and moving on saves time, tears, and frustration in the long run.
It may also be that it’s not the right time at that moment for that thing. Put it away and try it again later. If you try it again and you get the same awful results, then it’s time to move on. I tried Florida Virtual School with my youngest 3 times in 2 years. It doesn’t work. I wanted it to, but it didn’t. There were more tears than I’d like to admit. It’s not worth it! I’m evidently a little hard-headed, but we’ve finally moved on.
Homeschool Tip #6 – STOP comparing!
For the love of Pete, people!! Please stop comparing yourselves, your homeschool style, and your children to everyone else. It truly is the thief of joy. NOTHING good comes out of comparing yourself to anyone else. My full-time RV lifestyle and the way I homeschool will look nothing like Susie Homemaker in her suburban neighborhood with her perfectly manicured children and cookies in the oven. (That’s just her IG feed, so you know it’s not real anyway! LOL) That’s kind of the point I’m making. You never REALLY know what someone’s life looks like unless they tell you the ugly truth.
We ALL struggle in life, especially when we’ve made the choice to homeschool our own children. The only person you need to compare against is you. Are you and your children progressing over the long term? How satisfied are you with the general direction? Are you proud of the work you are doing? Are you happy with where YOU are? This is your journey and no one else’s.
Homeschool Tip #7 – Give yourself AND your kid tons of grace.
Please, please allow grace in your life. Give it and receive it. LOTS of it. I have learned this lesson so many times the hard way. I’ve experienced tremendous grace from God, and therefore, I give it, just not as often as I should. This homeschooling thing has me produce supernatural patience and grace on a daily basis. I also have to give myself grace. I’m doing the best I can every day.
As you begin to understand your kids more, grace will come easier. Every kid is different and needs more grace in one area than another. I need to have much more patience with Brooks and give him tons of grace. His brain works very differently and my husband and I find ourselves more easily frustrated with his lack of focus. GRACE. I call on grace in these times. He doesn’t do most things the way that I’d like or him to, and that’s okay now, thanks to grace.
Homeschool Tip #8 – Have a support network with other homeschool families.
It is crucial to find your tribe. Find your people that are on a similar journey. Doing this alone is a terrible idea! Especially now with all the quarantine, social distancing, isolation craziness that’s been going on, it can get really lonely. Join online forums, Facebook groups, local groups and co-ops and anything that will keep you connected to others. We are part of Fulltime Families which is a group of families that are full-time RVers. By default, we know that all those families homeschool since they are on the road. We automatically have lots in common!
This journey does not have to be done alone. Use the resources available. I leaned HEAVILY on those who I knew were homeschooling, and they helped point me in the right direction. If you feel completely crazy, it’s normal! I promise.
The most important relationship and support you have is with the Lord. Schedule time to pray and receive God’s word on a regular basis. You will need God’s wisdom, strength, endurance, and patience to succeed at homeschooling. This daily practice has radically changed my life! I get up extra early just to have this quiet time alone with God in devotions and prayer. Knowing God is always there with me makes me feel less lonely. I feel less crazy when I talk with other moms having similar struggles.
Homeschool Tip #9 – Cry behind closed doors.
And this is the ugly truth. Next to having postpartum with both kids, homeschooling is the next hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve cried myself to sleep many nights. I’ve cried in the morning, after breakfast, after lunch, in the middle of the afternoon, later in the day, after dinner, and at bedtime. Did I miss a time? I do think it’s best to not let your kids see you do this. My youngest has seen me get very upset a few times, and then he thought it was his fault. He felt terrible, and then I felt even MORE terrible. It’s pretty awful. I get frustrated. He gets frustrated. It’s frustrating!
You, too, will get frustrated. It’s okay. None of this is easy. It’s usually hardest in the beginning. If you have a kid that requires more of you, it may be ongoing. Five years in, and I still cry. I think it’s more common than not. It’s okay to cry and sometimes it’s absolutely necessary.
We wonder if we’re doing the right thing. We questions ourselves and our decisions. Are we doing enough? Will they learn the right things? Are we missing anything? Are they happy? How will I survive the teenage years homeschooling? (My current question, for sure!) There are a million questions and a million reasons we could make ourselves upset.
Here’s how I’ve chosen to think about it – I am doing the GOOD work. I am doing the right thing in having a say in how my kids are taught and how and what they are educated on. The GOOD work is often hard, and I’m okay with that. It is my job to instruct and lead them well. In our world, academics come second to being a kind human. I focus a great deal on teaching them how to be kind, caring and compassionate.
Homeschool Tip #10 – Focus on what’s important -It’s not calculus!!!
Like I said before, in our world academics are secondary to real world life skills, like being a decent and kind human being. Academics are super important, but not as much as raising thoughtful and productive members of society. I also want my kids to be free thinkers. Although there are things that I believe in that I teach them, I encourage them to ask questions. I am excited when they ask hard questions or ones I don’t know the answers to.
It is my duty to teach them to love God with all their hearts. However, I don’t want them to have my faith. I want them to have their own faith through their own experience and relationship with Jesus. Although we include bible study as part of our schooling, I want them to discover his unconditional love for themselves.
We also spend a good deal of time on personal development and entrepreneurial skills. What’s most important is that they learn HOW to learn. Our highest priority is spending quality family time together and having great conversations and adventuring. We are almost always together. It’s important that I create a safe space for my kids, especially now!
Homeschool Tip #11 – Don’t quit on a bad day.
I know you’ve heard this before. So, take it to heart! There will be lots of good days when you feel like Super Woman, and there will be bad days when, honestly, you’ll feel like none of this is worth it, and you feel like giving up. Don’t give up on a day when you feel like it! What??? “Well, if it’s a good day, then I won’t want to quit”, you say. EXACTLY.
You can always quit homeschooling. My suggestion is just don’t quit on a bad day 🙂 You know all the sayings…don’t give up in the 11th hour, don’t give up just before the miracle happens, giving up is the only sure way to fail. There are hundreds more! If you’ve make the commitment, see it through. There will be rewards you never thought possible. However, if you are all completely miserable, re-evaluate and reconsider your options. Homeschooling is NOT for everyone! Quitting does not make you a failure 🙂
Homeschool Tip #12 – Less is more.
I can speak from experience here, for sure. Almost five years ago we sold roughly 80% of our belongings including our house. What we couldn’t get rid of in 2 weeks, we stored in my in-laws’ basement. I have not missed any of it. We live with very little compared to most people and it’s still more than we really need. We enjoy a fuller life now with much less stuff.
This same concept applies to homeschool. There is so much out there that it’s completely overwhelming. Don’t start out with a bunch of academic stuff just to fill the days. It’s not necessary. Your kid will do better and thrive with less. Go deep on a few things at a time and really understand them. You’ll be amazed at what you learn.
Doing less each day can bring more joy into your life, and who doesn’t want more joy!
Bonus Tip- Have boxes of wine on hand (vodka if necessary)!
There is no shame in de-stressing with your favorite beverage. Jesus knew what he was doing when his first miracle was turning water to wine! Unwinding with a glass (or three) and hanging out with my husband is one of my favorite things to do. We are able to slow down and enjoy each other’s company. After a tough or even wildly successful homeschool day, you should reward yourself! It’s not about the wine or vodka, it’s about doing what YOU need to relax after a stressful day or reward your efforts in general.
It’s really about self care. Take care of yourself. If you’re not well, you can’t be a good parent, much less a good homeschool educator/facilitator. Do not feel guilty for investing in your own sanity. It took me WAY too long to figure this out. Don’t be like me. Take the time you need to rest & re-energize. Your family will love you for it. No one wants to be around a sleep-deprived, anxious, irritable, freaked-out stress ball. Like I said, don’t be like me 🙂
If homeschooling is the path you have chosen, I congratulate you for doing the good work and making a HUGE impact in the world. Our kids are our future and it’s worth the investment in their brilliant, creative minds.