When you are a new homeschooler there are so many questions buzzing around your head.  Over the years these are the questions that new homeschoolers most often ask me.

 

5 Questions New Homeschoolers Ask

 

1–How do I know what to teach?

There are two parts to this answer and you need to keep both parts in balance with each other.  First there are lists of “What your child should know when” or curriculum outlines that tell you the ‘right’ age to learn things.  But secondly, I firmly believe that not all children learn in the same sequence, or at the same age so being dictated to by those lists will put pressure on your child and your homeschooling efforts.

In Australia, I recommend you to be at least aware of the National Curriculum regardless of how you plan to teach those things – you don’t have to teach from it, it just gives you an objective guide to all that can be learnt – but be assured classrooms are not achieving everything in that list! My personal preference is to stay away from grade levels as much as possible.

I want my kids to have an individualised education that meets their needs – both to be educated to the standard that will allow them to function in society, but also to include their individualised passions and needs. If this is your desire for your children then I would recommend that you buy a sequential math and learning to read programme and then study Bible and general knowledge together until you find your feet homeschooling.

You may also be interested in reading:

My Favourite Homeschool Curriculum Choices

2– How do I look after the little kids while I’m homeschooling

It depends on the ages of your kids but let’s assume your kids are young primary along with babies and toddlers.  If your children are older then you should be able to have them working independently for spots throughout the day when your younger ones need you. If your older ones can’t then that is an issue for training, bigger topic than this post.

But when you have a few young ones all needing attention from you at the same time it seems as if homeschooling is the aspect of life that gets let go.  And that is okay.  If you are homeschooling, or home educating, instead of schooling at home, you can afford to have some days, or a season of time, where family needs come first.  But if this is the case – you need to be using this time to teach and train your older ones in character, responsibility and faith.  These three things can be done on crazy days with baby on hip.  (But maybe not on those really hard days with baby sick – so there is context, but at least have that as your goal.)

These are the keys that helped me balance these seasons of life:

  • Have a routine – I routine is having the same things happen in the same order most days. This gave order to our days, the kids got used to what was coming next so I wasn’t always telling them,
  • My routine included what I hoped my baby’s day would look like – in fact I’d start at the beginning of the day, and guestimate what time they would feed and sleep and plan our normal routine around that
  • When my baby needed me, the homeschooled kids had independent work to carry on with – if they got stuck they would read a book, or play with lego.  They couldn’t go far from their desks as they needed to be ready when I was ready.
  • Use baby sleep time for instruction time – Bible study, learning to read, and math were my priorities to focus on when Baby was asleep.

You may be interested in reading:

The Significance of Interruptions Double Check your Routine

3–What do I do with my kids when I need to do other things?

Two principles to help with this questions

  • Homeschooling primary school only takes 2-4 hours – max. The rest of the day can be taken with productive activity but the academics of homeschooling doesn’t take long.  This is mainly because you are working mostly one on one, or at the most with a handful of children at any one level.
  • Involve your kids in all aspects of your life – and you will both get things done and enrich their learning experiences

When I started homeschooling I read this educators book about making learning centers for primary classrooms.  I loved the idea and I started planning when and how I would make a couple of learning centers throughout the year.  The plan was that I would convert a corner of my house into a post office, bank, grocery shop, pet store etc each term with the expectation that my kids would learn about the wider world, jobs, money, systems, etc.  I was very excited about this idea.  Then one afternoon I was in the bank, with my kids, and one of them asked a question – and it hit me (a duh moment) here is our learning center!  Every time I take my kids with me they have opportunity to learn about the wider world, about jobs, money, systems, different people etc.  So I ditched the idea of recreating these learning centers and probably saved myself 6 weeks of work that year!!

Another thing I did was we didn’t start our homeschool till the daily household chores were done – and the kids helped with these tasks.  Breakfast dishes, bathroom, floor and laundry (they had already done their beds).  The kids also helped with chores throughout the day but not starting homeschooling till these were done was a big help to me being able to focus on teaching.

And the last key is – stay at home as often as you can!  There used to be a car bumper sticker that said: If I’m a stay at home mum why am I always in the car.  Though your kids will learn when you are out and about you will start to feel frustrated about not keeping up with the academic subjects.  And though we may have crazy seasons where these things do slide (and that is okay) if you can do things in the afternoons and study in the mornings that will work best for most families.

You may be interested in reading:

Blending housework and homeschooling

4–What do I do if my kids don’t want to homeschool

I treat the kids studies like any other aspect that I teach and train my kids in.  If my kids don’t want to do chores – they go to their bedroom, think about their attitude, work on their attitude, talk to me about it and when they are ready they need to do their chores!  They may be a natural consequence to help remind them of the benefits of being willing to work.  The same with study – if they don’t want to they have an attitude problem and we need to deal with it.  I don’t remove something that Peter and I have decided is what is good for our family just because the kids don’t want to.

There is always more than one aspect to any question though and we have to be careful to discern if this issue is an attitude or if it is a struggle.  If it is an attitude we deal with it – if it is a struggle we deal with it accordingly.  Dealing with a struggle though isn’t black and white either – sometimes we would slow down and I’d be more available to help my child with the subject, sometimes we would change curriculum, sometimes we’d stop it all together and find something better to study.  This is a freedom we have as homeschoolers where we want to individualised our kid’s education.  We want to be diligent but personalised at the same time.

I have never given my kids the option to decide whether they homeschool or public school- to me that is a parenting decision.

You may be interested in reading:

Homeschooling is a Parenting Issue

5– What if my kid is behind?

We all want the best for our kids and we assume the best is to have no gaps in their learning.  But this isn’t realistic.  My husband, Peter, reached a higher level of education than I did.  He did better at school (in terms of scores) and he studied as a Veterinarian – but he still asks me how to spell words.  There is a gap in his education.  I feel I’m a fairly successful adult – I’m living the adult life okay – and yet I have very limited understanding of geography and science.  We both went to school. Everyone has gaps – the thing that you need to do is discern which gaps are going to affect the wellbeing of your child in their future and which ones are just life.  This may well be different for each child in your family.

Once you discern that there is an aspect that is a weakness you have the opportunity to work intensely on that by investing more time in your day.  I found that we were better to drop a subject for a season rather than adding to our study time – this way we kept our whole life in balance.  But as the kids get older they can certainly handle a little more time and emphasis on a particular skill.

You may be interested in reading:

Choose the Gaps

10 tips for successful homeschool lesson time

 

Do you have a different question? Please leave a comment below.

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