‘I’d like to home school, but don’t know how to start?’
This is sometimes what I hear from parents who sense that home educating could really work for them but feel too daunted to make that final commitment.
Below are some tips that may help overcome that:
Making the decision
The decision is often the hardest part. It might help you make that final commitment if you keep in mind that it is not necessarily a decision for life. Children grow and change and therefore their educational needs change too. Home education may very well be the right approach for the time being and it is the now that you need to concern yourself with. The future will take care of itself as you adapt and meet your child’s needs. So don’t be afraid to take the plunge. No decision is irreversible. You are unlikely to ‘ruin’ your child.
Research and connect
As well as books and informative sites some home schooling families keep blogs which provide a valuable insight into the home school life. I’ve heard that reading these gave parents the confidence they needed. There are also various Facebook groups specifically for home educators which you can join, post questions and receive support. Joining this community makes you realise you are not alone and provides a wealth of information and tips. They are also a place to find out about meet-ups, activities and get-togethers.
What to do first off
There’s no need to feel that you must be ‘doing’ immediately. Home educating gives far more time for study, recreation, learning and activities out of the home because there is no time wasted by school procedures. By meeting others and listening to what they do you’ll be able to establish how you want to approach your child’s learning. Many start with a school style approach as this is familiar, using workbooks to help. Others allow their child to do what interests them and gradually develop activities from there. Your research will guide you.
Don’t get hung up about ‘approaches’
There are many different approaches to home schooling and listening to people talking about their approach to learning might feel overwhelming. But the simple truth is you don’t have to adopt any specific approach at the outset or stick with one. It is far better to ease your way into your learning days by; doing things that interest your child, doing what works best for them and for you, meeting people, trying out different ways of working, enjoying time with your child.
Relax and don’t rush
There’s a great saying; ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. That’s also true of education. A school style of learning is often rushed. It is compartmentalised into time frames and targets. With home education your time is your own and you can organise it to your best advantage, gradually learn how to proceed. There is also far more time for other activities like swimming, gaming, whatever. A relaxed approach to learning is far more effective than a rushed and stressed one. Other activities educate as much as academic ones.
As you learn about home education, connect with others, and focus on the needs of your child rather than school needs, your confidence will increase and you’ll find your way. Like with starting anything new this can be hard to visualise. But there is proof in the thousands of families now successfully home educating, and young people who have graduated from doing so into the workplace. There’s no reason why it cannot work the same for you.