In light of the COVID-19 pandemic schools around the country have closed their doors. Our educators made this decision to help prevent the virus from spreading. While necessary, this left parents wondering how schools were going to meet the educational needs of their students. Many schools did not already have an online educational platform. With less than 3 weeks to plan, teachers turned their curriculum into distance learning programs. Many teachers are learning new programs and technologies they never imagined they’d need. They are doing a fantastic job and their efforts are nothing less than heroic.
Unfortunately, most schools and teachers are not used to an online format. There are bound to be a lot of growing pains as teachers learn what does and does not work for their students. Despite everyone’s best efforts, some students are really struggling. On the other hand, some students are really thriving in their learn-at-home environment. This has some parents wondering if homeschooling is a better option for their family. Either way, we all have found ourselves trying to educate our children at home. So, here are some tips to help you start homeschooling your child:
The Legal Stuff for Homeschooling Your Child
Homeschooling laws vary from state to state. Before you start homeschooling your child you will need to find out what those laws are. For example, in some states parents and at home educators must have a certain number of college credits. In other states you only need a high school diploma. You may also need to file a letter with your child’s school district to tell them you will be homeschooling.
Texas happens to be one state that is particularly friendly to homeschooling. More than 350,000 children are educated by homeschooling in our state. But, you will want to know your rights. Some school districts or municipalities are not as open minded. Families sometimes find the district is asking things of them that are not required by law. Knowing your rights can help avoid any legal issues, should they come up. Joining an accredited home schooling program like the one available through New Beginnings Christian Academy will also help you avoid these issues.
Time and Patience
Homeschooling has many benefits. Small classroom sizes ensure your child gets the one on one attention they need when they are struggling. You’ll also be able to identify their strengths and adjust the lesson plan to fit your child’s needs. The flexible hours means you can plan the day around what times your child is most focused and ready to learn. But, successful homeschooling does take some time and a lot of patience from both you and your students. Help get you and your child off to a good start with an organized schedule for their school work and activities. Have instructional time clearly labeled on the schedule and stick to it. Having a set schedule each day will help your child get in the right mindset to learn. Making sure you have instruction time blocked out will guarantee you are present and ready to help when needed.
Remember: No two homeschooling schedules are alike. Plan out what works best for you and your children. It will take some adjusting at first but before you know it, you’ll find your groove. Be gentle with yourself and your children as you learn and grow together through this transition.
Curriculum and Supplies
If you choose to start homeschooling your child you will need to purchase a curriculum and supplies. What program you choose will depend a lot on your child’s learning style and educational goals. Picking the right curriculum can make a big difference in how successful you are in your homeschooling journey. There are a lot of options to choose from so don’t be afraid to shop around to find the right fit for your family.
As for supplies, you’ll need to buy many of the same supplies you would buy for a regular year of public school. These supplies include paper, pencils, scissors, glue, dry erase boards, markers, etc. The curriculum you buy may have a suggested supplies list to help get you started. Some online learning programs include supplies in the cost of their tuition.
Plan the Work, Work the Plan
Each year you will want to look at your previous year of homeschooling. If this is your first year, don’t worry about this step just yet. But you’ll want to look at what worked, what didn’t, and how you can improve for the coming year.
Set goals for yourself and your student. These goals should be SMART.
- Specific: What are you trying to achieve?
- Measurable: How will you measure progress?
- Attainable: Is this goal reasonable?
- Relevant: How does this relate to your overarching goals?
- Time-Bound: When will you measure your results?
Having a goal oriented plan will help keep you and your student on track toward your education goals. Plan out what the typical week will look like. Make sure to set aside time for activities and lesson planning. If you are using a ready made curriculum or online school like New Beginnings Christian Academy, this part of the process will go much quicker. Ready made curriculums come with a pre-prepared lesson plan that make staying organized a little easier.
Find Support for Homeschooling Your Child
Homeschooling can be a truly wonderful experience for the whole family. But there will be days that are challenging. Having a support system in place will help you get through the growing pains. Look for online and local support groups. They are an invaluable resource for finding support as well as enrichment and social activities.
If you are going through a homeschooling program, like New Beginnings Christian Academy, you and your student may have access to support through your program. Be sure to reach out to your program coordinator for more information on what resources are available.