Homeschool Tips and Tricks for Beginners

A large portion of the homeschooling community finds it valuable to share their knowledge with each other, whether through Facebook groups, blog posts or just chat conversations.  The following article is based on a compilation of some of the most helpful tips and tricks that I have read over the past few months.

I am not an expert in this area by any means, but would like to pass along what I've learned so that you may benefit from them as well. If anyone has additional suggestions please feel free to comment!

For those of you who are just getting started here is a list of helpful tips I compiled from the wealth of knowledge shared among members our online community:

Don't beat yourself up!

If you feel overwhelmed, don't be afraid to drop something from your curriculum plan. Remember it's not an all or nothing deal. No one expects you to teach everything on your homeschooling "to do" list. Set aside a few hours every day and work on the activities that require more attention and spend less time on those that can easily be put to the side.

Join a homeschooling Facebook group! 

There are many available, just do a quick search on Facebook and I'm sure you will find tons of results! Not only can online community groups be helpful in exchanging ideas and support, but they can also offer valuable insight into the various state laws regarding homeschooling.

Trial period is key

Try everything for at least two weeks before deciding if it's working or not; then make changes as necessary.  Two weeks seems to be the magic number when it comes to homeschooling activities that may take more time than expected (or less). Keep track of what works well and what doesn't by writing it down in your plan book (more details about this later). The Ron Paul Homeschool program has a few sample lessons you can check out for instance. You can read more about the program here.

Be mindful of information overload

Homeschooling can be overwhelming when you are trying to figure out how to organize everything. When in doubt, take a step back and simplify .

Establish the areas that need the most attention first

Use your plan book to record what works well and what doesn't, then adjust your curriculum accordingly for future classes. By keeping track of what activities need more time or less will allow you to make necessary changes for future classes before its too late (i.e.: before the end of the school year).

Don't forget about your local co-op! 

Co-ops are great resources for support groups, speakers, field trips and special events.  You may even find playgroups for younger children and older kids that can provide socialization opportunities.  Our co-op offers a wide range of classes, from PE to Art to History, so there is something for everyone.

Get your hands on some good books!

The library is a great place to start and online bookstores like Amazon offer many resources at discounted prices.  Take advantage of used bookstores in your area or online communities like PaperBackSwap where you can trade books with other members.  Not only will this help keep your budget in check, but it also allows you to build your home library at the same time.

Utilize technology! 

With advancements in technology, more and more homeschooling parents are using computers, tablets, and smartphones to educate their kids.  If you are not comfortable with technology yet (I am still learning!), check out Khan Academy for some fantastic educational videos.  Your local library also has many DVDs that you can borrow for free or just pay a small fee to purchase them outright.

What works for one child may not work for another! 

Every child is different so don't be afraid to try something new. Don't get too hung up on whether or not something "should" be taught at certain grade levels either; let your kid learn at his own pace which will allow him/her to go back and strengthen any areas they feel they need more help in later on down the road.

Plan ahead

This is especially important in the beginning when you are trying to get a feel for how everything works.  Create a daily schedule and try to stick to it as closely as possible.  This will help avoid feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.  Also, make sure to have a plan book in which you can record what works well and what doesn't.  This will come in handy when making adjustments for future classes.

Join a support group

As I mentioned earlier, online communities are a great way to find support from other homeschooling parents.  Not only can you get advice and encouragement, but you can also find out about any helpful resources that are available in your area.  Our co-op offers an amazing online forum where members can ask questions, share ideas, and offer

Enjoy the process!

This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give you. Homeschooling should be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your child.  Take the time to relax and enjoy each other's company; after all, that's what homeschooling is all about.

So there you have it, a few tips to help get you started on your homeschooling journey. As with anything, be sure to adjust things as needed and don't be afraid to ask for help from other parents who are also homeschooling. Most importantly, have fun!

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