15 Homeschooling Dos and Don’ts From a Homeschooled Kid

If you are thinking about homeschooling your children, you need to read this post on 15 homeschooling tips for parents from a kid who grew up homeschooling. Learn about homeschool tips and tricks for curriculum, schedules, room organization, co-ops, and more!

Hello Friends!

My name is Emily and I am in my mid-twenties. My husband and I were both homeschooled growing up (though we didn’t meet until college) and I cannot say enough good things about my homeschooling experience! I was homeschooled from 3rd grade until I graduated high school along with four of my siblings!

homeschooling dos and don'ts

15 Homeschooling Dos and Don’ts

Today I am sharing 15 dos and don’ts of homeschooling – from the perspective of an adult who has experienced homeschooling parents and was brought up in a homeschooling family. (And if you homeschool a high schooler, read this important information!)

If you’re trying to decide whether or not to homeschool, check out this post on the Pros and Cons of Homeschooling.

1. DO modify the homeschool curriculum to meet the learning style of your child

I have a BS in education and taught in public schools before deciding to quit for a multitude of reasons (that’s a whole different blog post). While teaching in public schools opened my eyes to the benefits of homeschooling, I did leave with one important takeaway. Every student, whether taught at home, in a traditional classroom setting, or a private school or public setting, learns differently.

Know your child’s learning style and modify the classroom curriculum to meet the needs of your child. If you’re not sure how your child learns best, then check out this learning style quiz for kids.

I learn best through project-based learning. Growing up, I was allowed to present my knowledge about a subject or material through creative projects. This method of learning outcomes was really fun for me, and I learned way more through this assessment process than I ever did studying for a test or writing a paper.

One way to explore math and engineering is with these fun LEGO activities.

Does this mean you should never assess your child through other learning styles? No! It’s important to push them outside of their comfort zone and make them take the test, write the essay, or prepare a presentation. However, if you can make small changes to the curriculum to spark their interests, do it!

If you’re worried about homeschool expenses, check out these tips on how to frugally homeschool.

homeschooling dos and don'ts

2. DON’T rush your homeschooled child if they are struggling in a specific area

I am terrible at math. It was an uphill battle from the moment I learned what a division sign was! Ideally, my mother would have liked me to finish one year of math, have a summer break, and then start the next grade level…that rarely happened.

I often had to redo math modules two or three times before finally moving on to the next one, which meant that I always did math over the summer, and sometimes didn’t start the next grade level until October or November of the next school year! But guess what? I turned out fine! I took two math classes in college and finished with A’s in both.

If my mom rushed me through just to keep me on grade level, I probably would have struggled a lot more. Ensure your child understands a subject and does not get caught up in the time frame it takes them to learn! Even though I was behind in math, I was completing writing assignments and reading history books that were two grade levels above me!

One example is this math unit on how to use coupons to teach math.

3. DO join a homeschooling group

We were a part of a homeschool group growing up and we made some great friends. Homeschool groups are a good way to connect your homeschool environment with other families like yours and learn about field trips, co-ops, etc. We had a homeschooled chess club, different board games, homeschooled karate, martial arts, homeschooled dances, etc. You just need to sign up! These activities not only provide opportunities for learning and fun but also foster self-confidence.

It also helps them learn useful skills and be properly educated, like how to get preschoolers to sit for circle time, from another adult than their parent.

Note from Tiffany: we belong to two different homeschool associations, and we LOVE it!  We have great friends, many teachers, a great resource helpful support system, and fun activities to participate in all year.  Read why we decided to homeschool even though Tiffany taught public school.

homeschooling dos and don'ts

4. DON’T worry about following the public school/180-day schedule

As I mentioned above, do not get caught up on finishing the entire curriculum by the beginning of the summer. There were several years when things were crazy at home and home school environment we would just do school all year around. We would maybe have a week off to catch our breaths in the middle of January or take the whole month of December off, and that’s okay!

It’s easy to see kids running outside during the summer and assume that’s how it’s supposed to be done, but that’s not true! Work at the pace that is right for your family. If that means only doing three days of school a week and going 365 days, that is a great opportunity that’s okay! That’s the beauty of homeschooling!

But do make sure you keep your school area separate and organized.

5. DO plan vacations around the public school calendar

I love how flexible homeschooling is! My parents were very smart with their planning, and our daily schedule, and always picked weeks when pretty much all public schools were in session for us to take a vacation. We went to Disney World at the end of September and dodged a lot of the crowds and lines!

We also went on a cruise in January and got a great discount! If you’re planning a family vacation soon, look up the local public school district and calendar and plan around that! You will get so much more out of your trip! Make sure you’re using a planner of some kind to keep track this printable homeschool planner also works well if you’re choosing World School as your primary method of educating your children.

If vacations are difficult for your family finances, consider these unique frugal living tips so you and younger children can still follow these homeschooling dos and don’ts.

homeschooling dos and don'ts

6. DON’T overlook the benefit of taking homeschooled kids on errands

I learned so much about the “real world” by going to the bank, Dr. appointments, grocery store, etc with my mom in the middle of the day! I was able to tag along and watch her coupon or talk with the Dr. office about our health insurance. Yes, I was tagging along because we didn’t have a choice, but I was soaking everything in like a sponge!

You may feel overwhelmed when piling all your kids into the car for a grocery trip, but just know that it is not a waste of time! Kids in public schools are sitting at a desk, and your kids are exploring and learning about the world!

One way to help afford a homeschool curriculum is by having your older kids help you live on a $42 weekly grocery budget.

7. DO have homeschooling educational celebrations

Make learning fun!

Whenever we finished learning about a period in history, we would celebrate by having a party influenced by the time frame. For example: we learned about Egypt and would dress up like Cleopatra or some Pharaoh, cook popular Egyptian food, and make a whole night out of it! My parents would dress up and sometimes my grandparents got into it too and would come visit dressed in their costumes.

One time, I remember we finished learning about medieval times and dressed like knights and princesses and ate our dinner off of bread like they used to back then.

I remember more about those times in history than any other period we learned about because history came to life for us! As little kids, we got so into it and loved explaining to my grandparents what we had learned and why we were eating bread!

In public schools, they have celebrations like Valentine’s Day class parties or the 100th day of school. Do the same in homeschooling! Use this 100-day printable, for example, when you’ve reached your 100th lesson of the year.

You might also like this free Weird Holidays printable for a bizarre day to celebrate every single day of the year!

homeschooling dos and don'ts

8. DON’T let others disrespect your homeschooling choices

Growing up, pretty much all our neighbors were suspicious of us being a homeschool family. They would often make comments to my parents or even ask us questions to see how legitimate our education was.

On one hand, I can’t blame them because they probably weren’t used to seeing kids running around outside at 11:00 am (they didn’t know we had already finished all our homeschooling, for the day!).

While it is easy to feel ashamed or like you are doing something wrong, just know that you are doing what is best for your kids, and you need to stand up for yourself and your family!

9. DO make your homeschooled children complete standardized tests

There are two types of homeschool families: those who make their kids take standardized tests, and those who don’t worry about it…

I’m telling you to worry about it.

Did I hate the whole process? Absolutely.

Did it help my parents locate gaps in my knowledge

Yes. Did it show them where I ranked alongside my former public school teachers and peers? Yep.

Did it motivate my parents to get me the help I needed so that I wouldn’t fall behind? Right again.

Plus having these test scores was a good way to prove to neighbors that we were learning just as well as their older children were!

10. DON’T worry about your homeschooled child’s college transition

I wrote an 80-page capstone research paper in college about the college transitional experiences of homeschoolers. If anyone is interested in reading the whole paper, I don’t mind sending you a copy (you can contact me through my website).

My research showed that homeschooled students did better in college than their public schooled peers due to the similarities in course structure between homeschooling and college!

I was terrified to start college because I felt like I would be at a disadvantage. However, my fears amounted to nothing and I graduated Summa Cum Laude! Your kids will be just fine!

11. DO teach your homeschooling kids how to study

As new homeschooling parents, it is so easy to overlook the importance of tests or study guides as teaching resources. I’ve come to realize that anyone can understand anything as long as they have a good study guide to work from.

Teach your younger kids the importance of study guides and studying in general. I would have them start working on study guides as early as third grade! This added structure will benefit your children’s education and help them be a more well-rounded student!

12. DON’T be afraid to ask for outside help when homeschooling

It is one thing when you are teaching your kids about shapes or basic multiplication, but if you’re planning to start homeschooling your kid until they graduate, chances are you will find yourself rusty on some of the material. When I began taking pre-calculus my senior year, my homeschool parents quickly realized that they were in over their heads.

They found a local college student who was majoring in engineering and paid her $20/hr to work with me and help me understand.

When it was time for me to take the SAT, my parents hired a tutor to teach me test strategy.

Don’t be afraid to find help!

13. DO put your kids in lots of extracurricular activities

While I do love homeschooling parents’ groups, I think it is also important to place your kids in extracurricular activities where they can interact with public school kids.

Whether it’s a sport, an after-school hobby, etc. it is important to create experiences for your kids where they can interact with other kids.

Things like gymnastics, piano lessons, sports, co-op classes, and more are all great ways for your kids to get involved.

Extracurriculars are also a great way to find free time to work from home and homeschool.

14. DON’T give homeschooling a bad name

We know a family that stopped teaching their kids around 7th grade.

The other parents must have figured that their kids would be fine or maybe became too lazy to keep buying curriculums.

People usually think of these families when they hear the word homeschool. Don’t be one of those families.

We played a card game with the 17-year-old daughter of this family member, and she didn’t know what the word amputee meant. That’s a problem. You don’t have to raise an Einstein, but make sure that your kids won’t embarrass themselves in the real world.

15. DO your research when picking out a homeschooling curriculum

The curriculum you decide to pick makes a huge difference in distance learning. Please don’t quickly pick one out without doing some research.

There were some years when we struggled with attentiveness because the curriculum was so terrible. Likewise, there were other years in which we had a lot of fun learning! It all comes down to the curriculum!

About the Author of Homeschooling Dos and Don’ts

My name is Emily and I am in my mid-twenties. I’m married to a state trooper and run a website supporting law enforcement families! We have a dog named Bailey and a baby girl due sometime in the next three weeks!

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post with 15 top homeschooling tips for parents, dos and don’ts! Please check out my website for some lifestyle, marriage, and law enforcement material!

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  1. As someone who was homeschooled, I really appreciated this post. It allowed me so much more freedom to travel and interact with more people outside of my own age group.

  2. Great Post! We are homeschooling our children. Our oldest is 17 and just started taking graphic design classes at the Jr. College. I was so pleased when he scored high on the entrance exam! It is a blessing to teach our children at home! I appreciate your perspective. I think I have been to lax with testing. I think we need to up our game with that!

  3. I love so many things about this post but I do have one issue… The 17 year old who didn’t know what an amputee was. So many times I have heard people say homeschooled kids will have gaps in their education. My argument is always that yes they will. So will public school kids and college graduates. No one can possibly learn everything. Just because she didn’t know a word doesn’t mean she doesn’t know a lot of things that you will never learn. Never judge someone because of what they don’t know. Take time to find out what they have learned and can teach you.

  4. Thank you for sharing your valuable insights with us. Homeschooling offers the flexibility to adapt teaching methods and schedules to benefit a child’s learning and development. Keep sharing.

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