Top Ten Pieces of Advice for New Homeschoolers

New to homeschooling? 

Don't fret.

I've been homeschooling my children for 14 years now and have some tips up my sleeve. 

But before I share, let me just say, through the good and the bad, it is the best experience to ever have with your children. I would never trade these moments that I get to experience with my babes, that I otherwise couldn't have, if they were in the school system. 

Here are my Top Ten, friends:

#1 When first starting out, educate yourself on how best children learn. 
Curriculum choices are overwhelming to say the least. So when just starting out, by best advice is to educate yourself, first, on how children learn; not just curriculum and the best route to educate your kids, but how you can inspire them to love learning.

 Here are my favorite books that changed my world in terms on how children thrive and learn and love it!

Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn
Teach Your Own by John Holt

#2 Don't worry if they don't like their text books. 
We're an unschooling family (where learning is child-led ) and only use text books if the child needs it to gain the information they are interested in. There are endless resources to learn, not just through text books. One of my sons learned to read from road signs and all things that didn't resemble a text book. He hated, Learn to Read, curriculum. Whatever works best for your child is the best way. Introduce different ideas, books, and methods; they will show you what is best for them.

#3 Don't set up your home like a school. 
When I first started out, I bought all the curriculum I could get my hands on; set-up my dining room table as both, my teacher's desk and student desk with its red pens, teachers manuals and all of my daughters text books. 

I was so freaking excited!

My first lesson taught, was to me: do not recreate school at home, your daughter will hate it!

I could not get my daughter to love her curriculum, no matter what kind I bought, no matter how I presented it. Now, not all children are the same; one of my daughters just so happens to love text books, strokes them and holds them to her chest as though they are a dear friend. Just make sure that you are not forcing a style of learning on your children, let them show you. You will risk squelching their desire to learn all together. This isn't a time to have "power" issues. Learning is time to explore, create, and be done without time restraints, and control. 

#4 Do not emerse your children in a plethora of activities. 
When I first started homeschooling, I threw them in a ton of activities and educational classes and field trips as though I was sealing-the-deal, on their successful futures. 

Do not make this same mistake!

All this does is make for crabby kids, a life lived in a mini van, and a burnt out mama! I love to go places at our leisure to learn, such as the library, book store, museum or even the grocery store! Learning opportunities are everywhere, and understanding that your children do not have to be in structured environments in order to learn, will give you more wisdom when picking from the wide array of activities to chose from for your kiddos. 

I let them pick one, each, and hope not all them want to be in something. That's how I look at it. Then I'm always relieved when they are able to drive because, well, that's one less thing I have to do. :) I totally love teens who drive.

#5 Plan your days (and months) with your kids. 
I know there are a lot of printable sheets, and time management planners, but I'm not talking about those. I'm talking about real learning goals. This is something I do with my kids when all the schooled kids are back in school and the neighborhood is quiet. I get into my planner and plan our year, by month, up to December. What do we want to learn together? What are the individual learning goals for each child? What road trips near or far do we want to do? The possibilities are endless and this teaches kids to take ownership of not only their learning, but of their lives. Check out my videos on planning for your homeschooling year, here.

#6 Don't stress out.
If you or your children are having a bad day and nothing is going according to plan, scratch it. Relieve the pressure off everybody and cancel everything that you had planned and snuggle and watch a movie or bake some cookies instead. Your children and your mental health matter most and no appointment, field trip, or guitar lesson is worth the stress. Yes, sometimes your day needs to continue on, but always remember that you are in control and if plan B needs to be done, do it. 

#7 Plug into a homeschooling support group in your area.
I have done support groups off and on over the years but plugging into one in the beginning is a good idea so you can be around other homeschooling mamas and their kids. You and your babes can create some new friendships and be in the loop of what's going on in your area for homeschoolers. The one tip I have is that when plugging into a homeschool group for the first time, the advice from other, well-meaning, mamas can almost scare you (It did me!). Take in all the information, take it home, absorb it, read through all your new books on how best children learn...THEN, you can make decisions based on all that you gleaned.

#8 Follow homeschooling yours truly:)
Following some homeschooling blogs that interest you so you can develop friendships online and learn some things from mamas who've been there before. They can be such a great resource for not only support but for ideas on science projects, craft ideas, wonderful book reads, and other homeschooling fun projects to do with your kids. The homeschooling blogs involved in the, Top Ten, from iHomeschool Network, are just some of the wonderful blogs out there devoted to inspiring and sharing all they have learned with other moms, like you! Here are a couple others that get my idea, juices flowing:

My Pinterest Educational Helps and Craft for Kids, Boards. I have collected some gems that know you'll love, too.

Homeschooling Ideas

#9 Be open to how your teen wants to learn. 
Maybe you won't have the same problem as me in this arena, but I had a hard time letting my baby (teenage daughter) go. She wanted to give high school a try and I didn't want to give her the choice, because I was scared. Scared to plug her into the school system for the first time, scared of other influences, and scared to just let her go... 

I'm not saying whatever they say, that's what should happen, but wished I would have listened to her better, offered some classes to her at our public school to give it a try, and given her the opportunity to voice what she really wanted. 

My next in line, son, takes some classes in the morning, only, picking only the classes he feels he wants to pursue and learn, and uses the afternoon to pursue other activities. Truly the best of both worlds and glad we were able to give him the opportunity to learn from other resources that interest him.

#10 Most importantly...make learning a natural process.
Don't be fooled that the only way for children to learn certain topics is to be forced and structured. If they are hating every moment and just stuffing it their brain so they can get it over with, no one wins. They won't retain what they just forced in their brains, and your relationship will have seen better days. 

Introduce topics that you'd love to share with your children and teens on a continual basis, and use every opportunity as a learning one, making sure you back off and just introduce at a later time when the opportunity presents itself, again. I've done this a million times, and it works! When the desire is there, they are fascinated, absorbing it, and retaining all the information like a sponge.

There are no time restraints to learning all there is to know in this world. And if we keep their love for learning alive, we have given them an amazing tool for life...

To never stop learning.

You've got to check out my friends' Top Ten, too...

Be sure to visit all the other bloggers from iHomeschoolNetwork, to hear about their top 10 favorite websites and to visit Angie form Many Little Blessings won't want to miss all this valuable insight!

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