Welcome to another post in my Homeschooling 101 series. Last week I talked about the basics of getting started, and today we’re going to continue with a few other things to take into consideration when starting out your homeschooling journey.
When Should I Start School?
One of the most frequently asked questions regarding homeschooling is when to start. A few states require you start keeping records for schooling at the age of 5 but most start at the age of 6. Aside from state requirements, doing school with children younger than the state specified start age is entirely up to you.
When starting to introduce more formal educational activities with students keep in mind the “big picture”. If it’s not your goal to graduate your child early, then there’s really no reason to push school on them too soon.
If you think your child is ready and you are eager to start, there’s no harm in starting to initiate more structured activities with a toddler, but be careful not to push them too hard, or force an activity on them. Doing so can result in a child who is less than eager to learn via homeschooling.
That said, first time moms may still wonder what they can do to help put their toddlers on the right track. Playing fun games with them, allowing them to experiment with art media, and reading to them often are all wonderful ways to encourage an early love for learning.
Children as young as 1.5 to 3 years old should be having fun with board books, gross motor skill activities, nursery songs, rhymes, and a lot of reading with their parents. Keep this time focused on learning through having fun, and let your child help guide the activities. If they’re tired, frustrated, or bored stop the activity and try again later. Make time for activities that work on fine motor skills right now too. Some ideas include transferring objects using tongs or tweezers, playing with Play-Doh, painting, cutting, and lacing cards. These type of activities will help tremendously when they need to use those fine motor muscles for writing.
You will most likely want to start more structured educational activities when your student reaches the age of 5-6. You can introduce something formal like a full kindergarten curriculum. If your child isn’t quite ready you can also start off with something a little more structured, but not quite as aggressive such as a K4 kindergarten.
Count the Cost:
Let’s be honest here for a minute. Homeschooling isn’t for sissies, and homeschooling isn’t easy. You will have wonderfully joyful days, and days that are tough. Your children will love it, and hate it at times. You might even love it and hate it at times. But the long term results will be eternal, and that reward can’t be beat.
As homeschoolers we’re with our children 24/7, we are called to train them, have patience with them, guide them through the good and bad, and be there through the thick and the thin.
And if we’re not careful we can fall into the trap of self-doubt, we can compare ourselves and our children to others, get discouraged by daily trials, and even face criticism from family and friends. But there is a flip side to this as well. You will also reap the rewards of a child learning to read, or watch them figure out something new on their own for the first time.
Rules & Discipline:
One of the things people tend to overlook when starting out with homeschooling is the need for some type of organized discipline. Both students and parents can be so excited to start that they overlook this necessity. By outlining the expectations for your homeschool and home, you will save yourself and your children from much heartache.
We’ve all gone through it, the beginning “homeschooling honeymoon.” Everyone is excited to start, and looking forward to all of the fun they’re about to have. You as the homeschooling parent have researched, planned, and prepared a year’s worth of fun activities. You’ll find yourself excited to impart all of your new found wisdom onto your beautiful children.
Unfortunately after about the first week or so the excitement can start to fade. Students and parents realize that they are actually required to do work that it isn’t all fun and games as they originally dreamed.
And the truth is homeschooling can be fun, and it creates a wonderful bond between parent and child. But it is also hard work. Just as in a regular school setting, there are certain tasks that need to be done. Having defined your homeschooling goals in step one will greatly help in this area. You will know when it’s okay to let something go, and when it is time to teach your children what it means to be diligent and hard working.
Prior to starting your homeschool year, I highly suggest creating a basic set of rules. Keep them basic and easy to remember. If needed, list some pre-planned consequences for broken rules to help alleviate any pressure on the homeschooling parent to come up with a discipline on the fly. If one of your children breaks the rule, refer to your pre-planned chart for the discipline.
We’ll talk about creating a working schedule in more detail later on in this series, but another step in having a successful homeschooling routine is to create a good schedule. This is not something that has to be written in stone, but having a schedule will help guide you through your day, week, and ultimately homeschooling year.
Kids tend to thrive on consistency and structure and having a daily schedule will help keep everyone focused and on task. It can be a simple routine such as breakfast, school, lunch, school, chores, free time, dinner, and bed time. Or it can be more detailed to include extracurricular activities and the like. As you determine your schedule, make sure it is realistic for your family.
Share the schedule with your children, and then hang it somewhere visible in the home. You can be as rigid or flexible as you need to be here, but at least you’ll have a general plan to shoot for. Keeping the schedule is up to you.
Running a Homeschooling Household:
As we’ve already discussed, homeschooling will take up quite a bit of your time. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that all of your other household duties will magically disappear.
Creating an environment where the entire family pitches in to keep the home running smoothly is an essential part of your homeschooling journey. It also prevents the entire load that comes with running a household from falling onto one person.
Promoting an atmosphere where the whole family is working as a team helps teach children responsibility. It will show them how to care for others, be a good steward over what God has blessed them with, and gain a sense of worth and belonging to the family unit.
We’ll discuss keeping up with your daily household chores as well in further detail in this series.
Want more information? Check out Homeschooling 101: A guide to getting started!
Stay tuned for the next post in my series on Homeschooling 101!
Our Homeschool: Here is a list of posts on our curriculum choices, our schoolroom setup and our daily schedule.
- Our Curriculum
- Our Schedule (Please note this changes on a yearly basis! Sometimes daily if it’s not working!)
- Our Schoolroom
- Why We Homeschool
- Candid Conversation with God (My fears and doubts)
Here are some more helpful posts for new homeschoolers getting started:
- Super Mom vs Abiding Mom
- How do you do it all?
- Ministry of Motherhood (A 12 post series, highly recommended!)
- Plate Spinning 101
- Storage and Record Keeping
- Teaching Tools
- Workbox System
Disclaimer: I am not a legal attorney, nor do I have a degree in law. The information contained in this Book is what I have gleaned from my own research and should not be taken as legal advice. If you have any questions regarding homeschooling, please refer to the laws in accordance with your own state, or seek professional legal counsel.
Thanks Erica for these timely words. We had our first homeschool day this morning and are using a mix of letter of the week and K4. Here in the UK our eldest would be expected to start full time school today even though he is only 4 1/2. So while I would love things to still be very relaxed and they are I do still need to have lesson plans etc in place and goals etc for education authority. We are not required to connect with them but we would rather be open about what we are doing than flying under the radar. We have done some letter of the week earlier this year and our son is very excited to get back into it all again. What I love is that we can cover in a couple of hours a day 4 days a week what he would be doing while in school 5 days a week for 6 hours. So still lots and lots of time for fun and freedom and playing at this tender age.
I am new to your blog but I LOVE it!! Thank you for sharing this info!
These are great suggestions. I’ve tried several times to implement a schedule for our daily routine, but it never seems to work. It was causing more stress on me & my kids, because I was putting more emphasis on sticking to a schedule (and it wasn’t even a strict one) than I was on having fun and teaching the kids to enjoy learning. So..we ditched the schedule. 😉
I have been following your blog for about a month now and I LOVE all the awesome info you give.
This is my first year homeschooling but was homeschooled myself , for 7 years. I have a 1st grader, and 3 year old and an almost 2 year old. Everything is going great except for what to do with the 2 year old. She gets into everything and disrupts school time. I’m not sure what to with her . Any suggestions. (she’s super smart, she wants my attention on her …that’s why she makes trouble)
I love your schedules- I modified it to use now that we are home with this virus. Our 6th grader was already doing online school but we will be moving to a more traditional homeschool curriculum next year. the schedule has really helped our third grader!