There is a lot of terrible advice for new home schoolers who find themselves unexpectedly homeschooling . Many parents have found themselves suddenly homeschooling. Their motivation was not to bring their kids home because they wanted to be a homeschooling parent, but because it seemed like they had no option.
So here you are with a child at home and then you think, “Oh no! What do I do now?”
Traditional school has for the most part been your only experience of education and changing to homeschooling is a culture shock. Now you need to fill the gap.
An abundance of terrible advice for new home schoolers is out there. Unfortunately, it is hard to discern the good from the bad. Here are some common “good in theory” but “terrible in practice” advice that you’ll see.
Rubbish Tip: Leave Them Alone
If homeschooling is just thrust upon you then you’re unprepared. You may work full time, run a business or just have a routine that doesn’t involve being your child’s teacher. So you are told to try to set up a system where your child “takes responsibility” for their education, aka does it all on their own, so you can maintain your previous routine.
Whilst the “work on your own” is a hopeful goal, it seldom works because children get lonely, or lack motivation. Your child has lost their teacher and peer group and their social structure has fallen apart. Being home on their own or left to their own devices with no input can make them beg to go back to school just for the stimulation (even when that is a risky option).
Good Advice for New Home Schoolers: Find Social Structure
Children will still need company when they homeschool even if you aren’t directly helping them with their lessons.
Your child will still want a social outlet. Help them start or rebuild friendships. Spend time with your child doing fun things. Get to know your child better. You often find that many of their friendship needs can be filled as they get closer to you again. Sibling relationships can grow stronger as well. Help your child find new places to meet people.
Local homeschool groups can be a rich outlet but it can take a while to get to know the other families. I know a socially traumatised child will find it hard but make an effort to find a good fit for them.
Good Advice for New Home Schoolers: Do Get Counselling
“She’ll be right mate!” is an Aussie motto!
However, if school was very traumatic or your child is facing some psychological challenges, counselling can bring a new perspective to your situation. Seek experienced advice and help your child find their way back to emotional health.
Rubbish Tip: Replace School with Workbooks Alone
I must admit I do cringe when I see this piece of the online advice for new home schoolers. It goes something like this – all you need to do to educate your child is buy some worksheets for your child’s grade and get a subscription to an online program and then you’ll be right.
So, the parent grabs a whole lot of quickly chosen workbooks and presents them to the child. However, they seem surprised that their child is dissatisfied with the new schoolwork option (which is much more boring than school).
Education isn’t just ticking a box of curriculum outcomes or keeping the kid’s busy while the parent’s get on with their own agenda.
Good Advice for New Home Schoolers: Learn About Homeschooling
If you never wanted to homeschool, the thought of having to work out what to do is not just overwhelming, it’s annoying. You may feel totally unqualified to teach and worried you will fail. You may feel like you are missing out on all the things you want to do, however whilst there are disadvantages to homeschool, there are many benefits.
When you homeschool you are now your child’s main educator and mentor. Learn about homeschool methods and learn what makes your child tick.
- Read how to homeschool books
- Find a homeschool curriculum to help get you started. You don’t have to stick with it forever. It will just help you get going and work out what your child’s strengths and weaknesses are. Here is a list of popular easy start Charlotte Mason Curriculums:
- Simply Charlotte Mason
- A Gentle Feast
- Living Books Curriculum
- Charlotte Mason in a Box
- My Homeschool – Australian
- Wildwood – secular
Good Advice for New Home Schoolers: Open Opportunities For Your Child & Get Outside
“I went outside once, and the graphics were terrible.” Online gamer’s meme.
Homeschooling is a wonderful opportunity and there are so many learning possibilities that can be found outside that were not available to them when they were at school.Take advantage of them:
Getting out in nature:
- Go the beach or on a nature walk
- Have an outdoor picnic
- Get some exercise
- Visit museums and art gallery
- Go to the theatre with a school discount
- Take art classes
- Take them out for a morning tea treat
- Spend a day with grandparents
- Have some friends over for a poetry recital.
Rubbish Tip : Forget About Education & Choose Entertainment
On Facebook I often read a newbie parent declaring they just can’t get their child to do school work.
Another homeschooler might recommend unschooling, which is a child led education philosophy, but some apply this to mean just let them entertain themselves then you won’t be disappointed. They advise anything goes, abandon structured learning and leave kids to sort it out their own education. Suppress mother guilt.
Really! Does that sit right with you!
Note: If you are interested in unschooling there is a great deal of philosophy behind making this homeschool method work successfully.
Good Advice for New Home Schoolers: Begin Slow and Steady
It can take a while to settle into homeschooling before your child starts to thrive. When they first come home they may be super keen to do their work and then a month later your child seems to lose all enthusiasm and you feel like all hope is lost and that homeschooling won’t work. A school routine and a homeschool routine looks different. When you are home the time spent in academics is usually less than school.
It is often recommended that children need to ‘wind down’ or ‘deschool’ and recapture their will to learn. Deschooling refers to the period of time it takes a child recently removed from school to get used to the unstructured environment of homeschooling. It is a mindset shift for a child (and the new homeschooling parent). A helpful analogy may be the feeling that you have when you first begin a long holiday after a long period of work. It usually takes a while to relax before you are refreshed.
A child who has been spoon fed their education up until now can find it difficult to know what to do without being organised by someone else and electronic entertainment is an easy option. Whilst this may be a part of their deschooling, I encourage you to help your child look for other natural learning opportunities. You want to start establishing new educational habits so try to set up a boundary with edutainment early. Reading books, getting out in nature, learning how to cook, doing some exercise, starting a project like making over their bedroom, are all productive activities.
Rubbish Tip Four: Expect A Quick Fix
“If it doesn’t work I’ll send them back to school,” says the newbie dad who has put a time frame on the whole homeschooling experiment.
Mistakenly, a newbie sees their struggles in the early days as confirmation that homeschooling is failing. And when the form of education that they have used as a substitute for school begins to falter they are left wondering what to do. Panic sets in.
Whilst “back to school” may be a solution, there are also some strategies that will help you reconstruct a new paradigm.
Good Advice for New Home Schoolers: Build A New Routine
When you remove the structure of school you need to replace it with a new one.
Good Advice for New Home Schoolers: Make Your Home A Learning Centre
A child at home still needs to be educated. And when you homeschool you can unlock wonder and discover the beauty of education. But it takes time to find your groove.
Respect your child’s need for an exciting and stimulating education.
Make home, a place where there is treasure within. Nourish your child’s mind, soul and body. Partner with your child to make learning an adventure. Enjoy the journey.
That’s good advice for new home schoolers.