When starting to think about homeschooling, there’s often a lot to consider, which can be intimidating for many parents. From working out what you’re going to teach to finding the right resources, the first steps can be daunting. However, being responsible for your child’s education can be extremely beneficial, as it gives parents the freedom to determine what and how their kids learn. Having a clear plan and adopting a practical but personalised approach is often the key to success. We’ve put together some helpful tips to help you get started on your homeschooling journey.
Do your research
If you’re starting to think about homeschooling for your child, a good first step is to do some research. This will include looking at methods of teaching, how to deal with the Local Education Authority and what’s being taught at mainstream school. It’s also a fantastic idea to talk to other parents who homeschool their children as they’ll be able to offer valuable advice and share their own experiences. Organisations such as Education Otherwise is a great place to start your research as they have a lot of useful information and will help you connect with other parents that homeschool.
Join a support group
Joining a support group is another great tip if you’re just starting to think about educating your kids at home. Not only will you be able to pick the brains of families that have been homeschooling for a while, but you can swap ideas, discuss techniques that worked well and things that didn’t. They may also be able to help with where to go for resources and learning experiences in your local area, share materials and give your child the opportunity to socialise with other homeschooled children. Click here for a list of groups in the UK.
Work out the approach you want to take
When starting to think about the approach you want to take with homeschooling, it’s important to understand your child’s learning style. Our helpful blog post herecan help you identify the way your child learns best.
One of the huge benefits of homeschooling is that once you understand your child’s learning style, you can start to determine a teaching approach to suit them best. Most families find a balance between the two most popular methods; ‘Structured’ and ‘Autonomous’ learning.
Structured: Structured learning is often more formal, will use a timetable for lessons and have a curriculum of subjects. If the plan is for your child to eventually return to school or if they thrive off routine, this may be a useful approach.
Autonomous/ Interest Orientated: Autonomous learning is much more flexible and lets your child decide when and how to learn in line with their interests. With this approach it will be up to you to provide the opportunities, experiences and resources your child needs to thrive. This may work well if your child is self-motivated or if they haven’t been responding well to the structured school system.
Integrating interest-initiated learning around a structured timetable is often a prefered homeschooling approach as it provides some structure but also offers flexibility, keeping the process interesting for you and your child.
Start thinking about basic equipment
Even though an enthusiastic parent is the most important tool, having the right equipment will make the homeschooling experience much easier. Things you can start to think about include:
- A space where you and your child can work. This could be a dedicated room with a desk, a kitchen table or study.
- Useful resources and stationary such as a dictionary, atlas, paper, calculator etc.
- A place to store your child’s work
Start finding educational resources
When considering homeschooling, it’s crucial that you start building up your educational resources. There are lots out there, many of which are free and will be local to you. Good places to start looking are:
- Your local library. A great place to find books, CDs, DVDs, reference material and computers. You can also order specific items in if they’re not in stock.
- The Department for Education. You can access the National Curriculum and use it as a guide of what to teach your child. It also states what they should be capable of by what age.
- Museums. Museums are a great place to learn and inspire your child. Contact them prior to visiting to see if they offer discounts for homeschooled children.
Finally, it’s important that you’re patient with the homeschooling process. It’s estimated to take parents about a year to get into the rhythm, so don’t expect results instantly- it takes time!