The summer months quickly pass by and before you know it, the homeschooling season is upon you again. And even though there are a couple weeks left, homeschoolers all across the country are preparing for the new year. Afterall, “preparation” is your friend. It provides you with the freedom to concentrate on the most important aspect of your child’s homeschooling experience — learning!
When you have everything in order, you and your children are not bogged down by setting up your homeschool or preparing a schedule. You’ll already have that done, and more. So, follow these four tips and start preparing for another successful homeschool season!
Setting up your homeschool
Homeschoolers organize their homes in many different ways. You may want a dedicated room where you and your children have all your materials neatly arranged in their own spaces. This could include desks, perhaps computers or tablets, and of course the full array of pencils, pens, markers, folders, and other necessary items.
You could create what many homeschoolers refer to as a “command station.” This could be your dining room or breakfast table, but it is a place where you, as the teacher, store all your materials and gather for lessons and typical learning activities. Nearby shelves, which can hold folders, teacher’s manuals, and other items are also helpful.
Regardless of your homeschool style, order is always recommended. Once you have things in their proper places, you and your children can easily find them. Make use of shelves, cubbies, cabinets, and closets which can all become functional resources in your homeschool.
Creating a homeschooling schedule
Just as your homeschool setting depends on what works best for you and your family, so does the schedule. You and your children may prefer a rigid schedule or routine. For example, breakfast at 8 a.m. and homeschool activities starting at 8:45 and ending at 10 a.m. You take a break for chores, errands, or outside time. Lunch is around noon and then there is journaling and reading from 1-2 p.m. You break once again for extracurricular activities and do any additional need work in the evenings to fill in the gaps.
Other homeschoolers prefer less routine and more time to experiment with different subjects using computer activities, nature walks, field trips, and more. It really depends on how your children learn best and what fits your needs as a homeschool teacher.
But you should keep a few things in mind when preparing a schedule:
- How will you prepare it? Are you using a Excel spreadsheet, an online scheduling tool, homeschool planning sheets, a large calendar or booklet calendar? Experiment and find the one that fits your needs.
- Goals, strengths and needs. As you create a schedule, you can also produce a separate planner for your goals during the school year. Many homeschoolers also track their children’s strengths and needs. Free downloadable printable.
- Flexibility. You should always give yourself some flexibility, otherwise you could drive yourself crazy. And now that you’re homeschooling you don’t have to be tied down to one specific schedule.
- Remember to have fun. Schedule park visits, class trips, play dates, and other extracurricular activities. Your children will appreciate it.
- Include household chores. Many homeschoolers schedule in household chores. It will teach your children responsibility and give them a break from the daily routine. It also helps lessen your workload.
A perfect schedule doesn’t exist. Experiment and find one that works for you and your family.
You don’t have to be an expert
Homeschoolers aren’t experts at every subject and at every grade level. If you struggle with math or another subject, don’t forget the curriculum you choose, whether it’s computer-based, text books, CDs, or another, includes teacher guides. You are the facilitator. You find the methods and products that inspire your children and you let them do the teaching.
If you don’t feel comfortable with that method, you can always reach out to your local homeschool co-op to collaborate with other homeschoolers to share the instruction responsibilities for various subjects. Homeschoolers from all backgrounds and educational experiences have successfully homeschooled their children and you can too.
Record keeping and portfolios
Some states require by law that parents keep records in a portfolio while their children are homeschooled. Even if your state doesn’t require, you may still wish to keep a portfolio for your homeschoolers. A portfolio is a form of student record keeping that documents educational progress. Homeschool portfolios illustrate what your child has learned, how it was accomplished, what resources were used and how much progress was made.
There are many ways to create a portfolio: three ring binders with tabs separating the subjects, accordion files, or electronic portfolios. If you choose to use a web-based curriculum, some companies provide you with the ability to run progress reports within the program and save them for each child’s portfolio electronically.
Remember the old adage: “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” So start today and get ready for a successful homeschooling year!
Time4Learning.com is an award-winning, comprehensive curriculum for PreK-12th that makes learning effective and engaging through animated lessons and activities. The online program teaches and grades lessons, tracks and records progress, and keeps reports to help simplify homeschool portfolios.
For over a decade, Time4Learning has helped more than 500,000 homeschooling families with its flexible and engaging curriculum, homeschool resources, and more. Our team of homeschool moms, homeschool dads, and support staff have come together to create helpful homeschool insights on subjects such as family, education, fun, and more!