Help for families starting to homeschool

Help for families starting to homeschool

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So many of you may be finding yourself schooling from home this year. Maybe you’re choosing the virtual school route or an online program. Or maybe you’re full-on homeschooling. 

Today I wanted to offer you some tips. 

But first a little background. We have been homeschooling for four years, I have four children ages 8, 7, 3, and 1. So two of those years have been when I had a newborn baby. Also, I work full time from home. (30-40 hours per week I am self-employed.) I tell you all that to tell you that if I can do it you can do it. I am not particularly smart, I am not organized and I am not the perfect mama. But I try, daily. And that’s what it takes a willingness to try. 

I took to Instagram last week to ask for questions from my audience. Wow. All of you had a LOT of questions. So let’s go. 

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Should I use a curriculum or do my own thing? 

I HIGHLY recommend using an actual curriculum. Trying to figure out how to teach reading and math to a third grader for the first time is hard enough, having a curriculum to guide you makes it easier. 

How do I pick one out? 

Great question. First it’s really important to determine your child’s learning style. This Reading Mama has a wonderful and free assessment.

Once you have an idea of learning style you can pick a curriculum. Home School On has several videos comparing curriculums.

How long does it take to do school each? day 

This year I will have a third-grader and a first-grader, so I know it will take a little longer than usual. But typically we are finished within four hours. Leaving the rest of the day for reading, science experiments, playing, piano lessons, art… anything we want. 

Any suggestions for teaching reading? 

The Reading Lesson. I swear by it. It helps.  One of my sons has dyslexia and this has been very helpful for both of us. The book says it is 20 lessons. But the lessons take several days to complete. It’s designed to take 6 months to a year to complete. 


How do you manage really young siblings? 

I currently have a 3-year old and one-year-old so that’s a lot to manage. Usually, I will have my three-year-old sit in my lap or right next to me and do “school work.” This means writing on a notepad with a pencil and pretending he’s big. Or I will set him up with a sensory bin, play dough or felt board to play with. I will also schedule school around my 1-year-old’s meal times. So she is in her high chair eating breakfast when we are getting started with school work. 

I will also keep a basket of toys and books that I can hand the baby while we work. 

Indoor activities to occupy preschoolers and toddlers

Also I HIGHLY recommend the Busy Toddler.

How many subjects a day? 

We do math and reading daily. Every day. Even in the summer. We do writing every day of the school year science 2-3 times a week and history twice a week.

What read aloud books do you recommend? 

I highly recommend you check out Read- Aloud Revival. Sarah McKenzie is an amazing blogger and podcaster and she offers wonderful suggestions by age.

What about preschool? 

Okay, I have a LOT of thoughts about this. I think the year before kindergarten you might want to focus on learning to write his or her name, using scissors, identifying letters. But before that, it’s all about playing, coloring, reading and just being little. 


Where do I even start? 

Start small. Start with reading out loud. Follow your child’s interest. One day my child asked how astronauts brushed their teeth in space. We watch several YouTube videos on what life was like in space. This led us to a week of studying how rockets work. You can stick to the basics and explore at the same time. 


Any suggestions between distance learning through school or online school through another means?

I have ZERO experience with this. But I asked and here is an answer I got:

“So my kids did remote ( 15, 11, and 8) this spring. They all succeeded and loved it but we had to adjust to their way of learning. My older two did just fine on their own. My 8-year-old gets so overwhelmed and lost. So what helped her was writing everything down daily on a sheet of paper and having her mark it off one by one. Lots of breaks as well. My other two just wanted to power through and get it done. My biggest tip is to adjust with your kids. You know what works for them best! If they get overwhelmed then break it down. Lots of breaks and take it piece by piece.”

Check out: 10 tips for working at home while homeschooling your kids

Read: Big list of FREE distance learning materials to use when school is closed

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