Hot Topic — Advice From Seasoned Homeschoolers

We will occasionally share content of hot topics discussed in our GSHE Facebook group (while preserving people's privacy). This time we initiated the conversation -- Welcome to all the new members of GSHE! Seasoned homeschoolers, let’s help them out! List one thing you learned, or changed, after homeschooling for a while and why was it beneficial to your child and/or family? If you’re in our FB group, you can see the thread here.

Lauren – To be less stringent! We reduced overly structured learning time which allowed our child to discover very serious passions.

Olivia – The rhythm of our day. It took observing when my child and I were both at our best to do certain tasks.

Brenda – I learned to not use curriculum or force any soft of learning. Children are wonderful little beings who do it all on their own.

Michelle – Allow your student to work when/how it fits them. It doesn’t matter if math gets done at 9am at a desk or 4pm in a hammock. Enjoy the flexibility.

Jennifer – That is what I was going to say. Flexibility!

Julie – You’ll hear this a bunch of times and it’s true – don’t try to recreate a brick-and-mortar school at home! Actual curriculum time is significantly shorter than the time kids are at school; embrace it and know that is *is* enough. Encourage your children to take ownership of their education. Read aloud to them! And, don’t structure or feel responsible for filling all this new-found free time.

Trish – It’s possible to drive down to NYC and see a Broadway matinee in the middle of your homeschooling day. “Car school” whenever possible so you can travel and experience other places!

Nichole – Slow down and take time with anything that is confusing them. You can find a lot of resources on the internet if they need more practice with a certain concept. Help them master what they are learning.

Jennifer – I learned breaks allowed my child to regroup after a tough subject or gave her a reason to finish 3 subjects without a hassle. Go slow on harder subjects, and if they don’t understand, find a different way to explain it. Flexibility is the best part of homeschooling. Time doesn’t matter. Know you are doing your best. When you get frustrated, walk away and come back to it.

Colleen – I learned to relax and ditch the worksheets for some of the kids; opted for ongoing discussions and saw such growth. Following interests flowed much better than stuffing info in, and some kids so like worksheets!

Pamela – I learned to let my daughter’s interests guide us. Do anything and everything to keep their passion for learning alive; it will carry them through a lifetime of learning. Throw out the idea they have to reach academic milestones at certain ages. Ask yourself – Are they happy? Are they healthy? Do they love to learn? Those are the milestones that matter. Have fun, enjoy the ride – it will be over before you know it.

Amber – We learned we don’t have to do all the subjects all year. We do math and reading all year, but the rest we kind of rotate through. I’ll do the more difficult ones, the ones they hate the most, at the beginning of the year and get them done, then move on to the more fun ones. This allows us less stress and more variety in our year.

Erica – Learned that flexibility and choice is a beautiful thing.

Abigail – Flexible is the key. Life changes like the seasons, being willing to change and bend with it is life. We do math, reading, and writing all year, but the rest is all interest-lead. And being willing to use all and everyday things to learn something, even small things. I even learn a thing or two.

Sharon – Figuring out your kid’s learning style makes everything easier. In school, kids have to sit at desks and listen. At home, you don’t need to replicate the school environment. Some kids can’t sit and listen without drawing or doing something with their hands. Some need to write everything down. Some need to constantly move. Respect how your kid absorbs information and everyone will be more relaxed and happier.

Kate – Get it done in the morning. Also, rested kids with short school hours has increased the peace and joy in our home tremendously, but it was far from instant.

Julie – I always say my best piece of advice is that you are going to waste curriculum! Sometimes it’s just not a good fit regardless of how many awards it got.

Karen – Leave margins in your schedule. Don’t fret over the little things, and most this is in the grand scheme are little. Some days playing outside all day is just what you need. Have a mama support system.

Rebecca – Give your child(ren) space to “deschool.” A rule of thumb might be one month for every year of school they attended.

Tina – The whole world is a learning tool. Math can be a tape measurer. Measuring blocks while adding more is multiplying. While shopping, have the child add up as you go along and see how close they come. Have them write a list for spelling. Have them be the teacher for a day.

Heather – I learned that they don’t have to be at “grade level” for every subject. Loving to learn is more important.

Tammy – I learned that they eat, sleep, play, and work to their own schedule. It makes them productive and happy when they are in charge of themselves. I’m their to guide them and help them when they need it. It’s much less stressful than a public-school schedule.

Shelly – I agree, Tammy! We’re going on our 8th year and I needed to learn to relax and enjoy the rabbit holes and that worked great for our first high-school year this year. Let their interests lead them and you’ll be amazed at how amazing your kids are!

Christina -- Homeschooling two kids with very different learning styles and personalities, I learned that what worked for one in terms of curriculum, schedule, and motivational factors, didn’t work for the other. Soon into homeschooling my second one, I learned that no, I can’t just take the experience gained by homeschooling the first one and magically apply it like a formula. I wasn’t going to have it that easy. I had to recalibrate my approach as well as my expectations. After all, that’s why we are homeschooling, so we can better tailor our education to our kids’ divergent styles and personalities. Wherever you are in your path as new or prospective homeschoolers, know it’s a journey, it’s never perfect, it’s always changing, but if your child is happy and is learning and you both feel it’s worthwhile, then you’re doing it right.

Karin – I stopped using a formal schooling approach in the K02 grades. I taught using things that interested the children; horses, trains, frogs, rocket ships, you name it. I do not test until HS and sparingly. Just because an approach worked for one child doesn’t mean it will work for another. Learn their style. They have all grown into people who love to learn.

Jennittia – With six years of homeschooling and being a full-time working mom, I’ve now graduated two: one headed to a traditional four-year college and the other in vo-tech training. The biggest lesson I learned is you are doing a better job than you think!!! So many days, I cried because I thought I was failing, but I was not!

Veronica – Don’t try to simulate a “traditional school day.” Be willing to be flexible, change your curriculum often, have bad days when you get nothing done and that’s ok. You may feel at times that you are not making progress, but at the end of the year, you will be surprised at their progress!