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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!
Today I am sharing 15 Dos and Don’ts of Homeschooling- from the perspective of an adult who was brought up in a homeschooling family.
DO modify the 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 really opened my eyes to the benefits of homeschooling, I did leave with one important take away. Every student, whether taught at home, in a private or public setting, learns differently.
Know your child’s learning style and modify the curriculum to meet the needs of your child. 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 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.
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!
DON’T rush your 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 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. Make sure your child understands a subject and do not get caught up on the time frame it’s taking 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!
DO join a homeschool 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 with other families like yours and learn about fieldtrips, co-ops, etc. We had homeschool chess club, homeschool karate, homeschool dances, etc. You just need to sign up!
Note from Tiffany: we belong to two different homeschool associations, and we LOVE it! We have great friends, a helpful support system, and fun activities to participate in all year long.
DON’T worry about following the public school/180 day schedule
Like 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 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’s okay! That’s the beauty of homeschooling!
DO plan vacations around the public school calendar
I love how flexible homeschooling is! My parents were very smart with their planning, 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 calendar and plan around that! You will get so much more out of your trip!
DON’T overlook the benefit of taking 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 really 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!
DO have 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. An 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 off bread!
DON’T let others disrespect your 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 schooling 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!
DO make your 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 public schooled 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 were a good way to prove to neighbors that we were learning just as well as their children!
DON’T worry about your 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 actually did better in college than their public schooled peers due to the similarities of 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!
DO teach your kids how to study
As a homeschooling parent, it is so easy to overlook the importance of tests or study guides. I’ve come to realize that anyone can understand anything as long as they have a good study guide to work from.
Teach your 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 kid’s education and help them be a more well-rounded student!
DON’T be afraid to ask for outside help
It is one thing when you are teaching your kids about shapes or basic multiplication, but if you’re planning to homeschool 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 parents quickly realized that they were in over their heads.
They found a local college student that 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!
DO put your kids in lots of extracurricular activities
While I do love homeschool 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.
DON’T give homeschooling a bad name
We know a family that stopped teaching their kids around 7th grade.
The 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 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.
DO your research when picking out a curriculum
The curriculum you decide to pick makes a huge difference. 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 really does come down to the curriculum!
About the Author
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! www.touchofblueandmakingdo.com We have a dog named Bailey and a little baby girl due sometime in the next three weeks!
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post! Please check out my website www.touchofblueandmakingdo.com for some lifestyle, marriage, and law enforcement material!