Fearless Homeschool

9 tips for new homeschoolers from an experienced homeschooler

Erin makes her home on the North Coast of NSW, Australia with her husband and ten children ranging from twenty-three to two years. She has been involved in home education since her teens in the 80s as her family were part of the pioneering home education movement in Australia. Erin and her husband have always home educated their children and live in a home they have been owner building for the past seven years on a large rural property, where they are surrounded by thousands of books. You can read more from Erin at Seven Little Australians and Counting, and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.
Tips for beginning homeschoolers from an experienced homeschooler-Fearless Homeschool
 
We’ve been parenting/homeschooling for over two decades now-doesn’t it sound like a long time? Not sure if it feels long or not 😉 One of the gifts of having several children over a twenty year span is that our hard won wisdom doesn’t go to waste, as our younger children benefit from our earlier experience.

We’d like to share 9 tips with you that we’ve learnt along the way, in this parenting, home educating journey, come along and travel with us.

Erin's family

It’s All About Relationships

Focus on nurturing relationships; your relationship with your spouse, each child, the relationships between siblings, and your relationship and theirs with Our Heavenly Father. All are of paramount importance and relationships are what this journey is all about. Enjoy one another, create memories, and embrace your unique family culture. You may be a family that enjoys reading together, playing board games, enjoying the outdoors, being active, or all these and more. Treasure this time together, it will pass all too quickly-but the foundation laid now will be the bedrock that holds.

Keep Your ‘Vision’ in Sight

We each embark on Home Education for our own reasons, often a variety of them, but it will always includes a ‘bigger picture,’ a dream, a vision for our children and our family. Whilst some of the reasons we begin this journey are not necessarily the reasons we continue, our vision will further crystallise as we continue. Home Education is a rich, rewarding lifestyle but there will be times when you are bought to your knees. Always keep the ‘vision’ in sight to encourage and remind yourselves why you are traveling this journey.

Develop Good Habits

Forming good habits are far more important than you may think. I know I didn’t give them enough weight in the earlier years. The habits children develop when young are taken with them into adulthood, the good and bad. Manners, time management, chore skills, personal hygiene, exercise, health choices, work ethic, interpersonal skills, all these and more are developed before leaving home. Focus on instilling good habits.

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Foster Strong Interpersonal Skills

Assist your child in developing strong interpersonal skills. Teach him how to communicate and interact with others, individually and in groups as these life skills are important for success in personal and professional life. Seek out opportunities to teach a variety of life skills. Be part of the wider community, give your child a wide frame of experience, and model, instruct and role play how to interact in various situations. Encourage your child to show compassion and kindness to others. Strategise teaching these life skills, don’t leave it to chance, this is part of your parenting responsibility. Encourage independence as your child will be leaving home all too soon-prepare him well.

Know and Accept Your Teaching Style and Your Child’s Learning Style

God created you exactly as you are, unique. Don’t waste time trying to make yourself into someone you are not, or feeling guilty that you are not as talented in the areas it appears your friends or other homeschooling mamas are. Accept yourself as He made you, you have unique talents and they are sufficient, and most of all love your child.

God created your child as He wanted. Don’t wish your child’s learning style is different to what it is, or compare him to others. Accept and tailor your teaching approach to your child’s learning style where you can, and remember there is always ‘more than one way to skin a cat’. Embrace and treasure your child for who he uniquely is.

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Immerse Your Family in Rich Literature

Foster a reading culture within your family and read aloud together often. Parents can read to children, or siblings read to one another. If you struggle to read aloud, utilise audio books. Provide quality books for your children to read independently and encourage them to read regularly-model reading and show your children that literature is valued as part of your family culture. The benefits are many; language skills, literacy skills, a rich imagination, and most of all close family connections.

Build a Strong Foundation in the Early Years

Build a solid base for learning by focusing on the 4Rs in the early years.  Focus your energies on reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic and religion above all else. If you’re needing suggestions I highly recommend All About Reading and Spelling, a solid maths program such as Singapore Maths or mathsonline. I also recommend daily handwriting, using pencil grips and Startwrite or similar programs, while supervising to ensure correct grip and formation. Religion will be specific according to your beliefs.

Ensure Your Child Has a Wide Knowledge Base

Once the foundation is solid, it’s time for your child to broaden their horizons. Ensure that they have a knowledge base across a breadth of topics.  Whilst we want to, and should foster our child’s passions and interests they also need to be introduced to areas that may not be of their choosing to ensure they are well rounded in their education. Many a child has homed in on their passions and shown all indications of having found their career path only to  do a 360 degree turn at the last minute and follow a path elsewhere.  We need to ensure our child is sufficiently skilled and experienced in all areas for a possible ‘about face’.

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You Won’t Know Everything-Outsource

The truth is that you won’t know everything your child may need to or want to know, particularly as they grow older. Don’t feel daunted because you can outsource.  Outsourcing includes online classes, correspondence units, hiring tutors/teachers, finding mentors and various other avenues. You are still the primary educator of your child, you are simply finding resources to fulfil a need.

Finally, remember that you can do this, He has gifted you with all the ‘tools of success’ you’ll need. I wish you every joy as you embark upon this rich, wild and rewarding journey 🙂

Thanks for sharing Erin! Veteran homeschoolers, please add any tips your experience has shown you to be important.

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    • Sarah
    • April 12, 2017
    Reply

    Thank you for this! I’m trying to decide if homeschooling is right for our family. So many tell me my kids need to be in a “school setting” or “You’ll go crazy” I find it hurtful, but mostly discouraging. I don’t want to make the wrong choice for my kids (or myself) however, I don’t like how my kids are turning out right now. That may seem terrible to say but my oldest is 9 and she has been taught many adult things at school from peers. My son who is 8 is bullied by one boy who is nasty to everyone . My other daughter who is 5 has anxiety and shuts down while at school. We’ve mad some progress, but I’m worried they’re going to suggest being held back and she will have to start all over making friends. This article is encouraging. It makes me feel like I can do it. That there’s not only one right way to do it. Thank you!

    • Reply

      Hi Sarah,

      I think there’s no shame in saying you don’t like how your kids are turning out. It’s a sad situation to be in, but it’s fantastic you’re looking at ways to fix the problems you’re seeing.

      I always tell people homeschooling doesn’t have to be a forever thing – commit to six months and see how it goes. If you’re still a bit uncertain commit to another six months. If it doesn’t work for you school will still be there.

      Not sure if you’ve seen my free email course, but it may help you get your head around it a bit more.
      http://fearlesshomeschool.com/begin-homeschooling-confidence-free-email-course/

      Best of luck with whatever situation you end up choosing,
      Kelly.

    • Carrie
    • April 8, 2017
    Reply

    This is great! I am thinking of homeschooling my kids this fall. They would be in grades kindergarten, 6th and 9th. Any advice for homeschooling such an age difference?

    • Reply

      Hi Carrie,

      Well, I had my five children within five years, so I don’t have a great deal of direct experience in large age gaps! But I’ve found that my eldest girls (13, 12, 12) are mostly independent now. By independent, I mean I help them when needed, and keep them accountable, but they do most of the learning without me needing to be there with them. Your older ones may need a bit more help and guidance to become more independent if they’ve been at school, but they’re definitely capable of it. Your kindergarten aged child will obviously need a lot more one-on-one, but the older ones can also assist with that if they’re willing. My eldest loves doing craft activities and step-by-step science experiments with the youngest two, while my twins read to them endlessly. And there’s lots you can learn together – history is great for that. The elder ones can be learning more in-depth about Ancient Egyptian culture while the younger is carving hieroglyphics in playdough.

      If you want more tips, you’re welcome to join my Facebook group. Apologies if you already have, it’s nearly 500 people now and my memory doesn’t stretch that far!

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/fearlesshomeschool

      Happy homeschooling,
      Kelly.

      • Sarah
      • April 12, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Carrie! Have you decided on curriculum? So many options, I’m lost! Lol

  1. Reply

    We are only one year in and this is still helpful. We could really use some work in the “good habits” area. Sharing!

    • Reply

      I’m 33 and still need to do a lot of work on my habits! Thanks for sharing Anne.