I know, I KNOW how overwhelming it is to start something as wild as homeschooling. It’s a lifestyle. It’s not like taking a new job or becoming obsessed with a new hobby or pouring every minute into your kids’ extracurricular activity. It’s actually like all of those. Before I scare you off, let me give you a few pointers on the best way I know to get started.
1. Find a friend: Talking homeschool shop with another mother is a great way to get ideas, keep perspective, and avoid frustrations. Co-ops can be a good way to get connected, but they may tempt you to be a bigger participant than you have time for. Look for balance.
2. Set a schedule: The amount of time you spend doing school depends on your family size and the depth in which you want to explore a topic. On average, I can get through a homeschool day for five kids in about five hours. Some days would run a bit longer if we found something super interesting that held our attention. There are a few factors that make up this daily schedule. Kindergarten lasts about two hours. First through fifth grade about three hours. Middle school and high school is about one hour per subject each day, but we always seem to move along a little faster. The important thing is to make your lesson plans, and finish your work each day.
3. Learn to multitask: Wrangling your home duties and your homeschool day takes mad skills. Find ways to work on home and teach at the same time rather than having your chores eyeballing you at the end of the school day. Fold laundry while your little one reads to you. Unload dishes as you give a spelling test. Make it a game and have your kids pick up five messy items every time they miss a math fact. Be creative.
4. Teach your kids to be independent learners: The ages and capabilities of your kids are the biggest challenge or help. My children have mostly been homeschooled, so they understand what I mean when I say they have to wait for my help. They are independent workers for the most part. I expect a lot of them in our day, so we aren’t stuck with homework that night or catch up on Friday. If you have all elementary kids, they will have shorter spurts of independent work. If you are lucky enough to have some space between some of the grades you teach (pipe dream with my kids 12 months and 18 months apart) you will find you can space your direct instruction time between your kiddos. Middle and high schoolers are primarily independent workers. You will set them up and let them loose. They will seek you out when they need help, or you can stop in when you have a sec. My kids are usually placed around the house, so I make my rounds.