It’s hard to know where to start when you begin homeschooling. There are so many questions which arise, such as which math curriculum to purchase, what language arts program to use, and what books to assign. How do you know what is most important?
How to Begin Homeschooling
My recommended place to start is simply to have your older children read everyday. You can pull out a list of great children’s literature for the kids to read through or simply have them pull out a book of their choice.
Younger children need to learn to read. Quite frankly, math for very young children is easy to teach. Teach your kids to count, add, and subtract. Encourage them to count money and cook. In the first couple of years, you’ll cover much of the math they need to know through daily life.Reading makes education so much easier. Click To Tweet
A child who reads can curl up with a science book. A child who reads can read directions. A child who reads can read word problems. For that matter a child who reads can read billboards to prompt all sorts of uncomfortable discussions!
So the first step is to get your children reading and reading well. Use Phonics Pathways or Ordinary Parents’ Guide to Teaching Reading, or Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. There are many other excellent programs as well. Choose one and work slowly and patiently through it. You’ll eventually teach your kids to read.
Otherwise, if your kids are reading, encourage them to spend plenty of time enjoying good books. My 1st graders usually prefer to read picture books for quite a while before moving to chapter books in 2nd or 3rd grade.
Remember that picture books are designed to be read aloud and use more difficult words than early chapter books. don’t worry if it takes a while before your youngest son moves to chapter books.
Your next step is to find a math curriculum which aligns with your family. By that I mean the kids don’t burst into tears over learning math. Believe me nothing is worse than pulling out math and seeing your child begin to sob.
You need to understand what’s being taught and why in your math curriculum. The children need to make forward progress. Don’t worry about moving slowly, worry about diligence and mastery.
As a place to start, know I use Saxon Math and love it. Mammoth Math is also excellent, as is Singapore Math and Right Start. Many of my friends enjoy Teaching Textbooks.
Once you find a good math program, work through it daily.Make it part of your daily routine.Click To Tweet
Eat breakfast, do chores, pull out math. Diligence will give you much better progress than trying to learn math sporadically.
Now that math is going smoothly, look into a language arts program. Use a slow and steady approach.
Remember the first year or two of homeschooling is always the hardest. You’re trying to build an education from scratch and figure out what works best for your family.
Begin by having your children narrate, tell you about, what they’ve read. Encourage them to give details without just going on and on and on. At the same time pick sentences or paragraphs for your kids to copy. This copy work will internalize grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Take your time and look for a language arts program. There are many excellent all-in-one language arts programs as well as the option of building your language arts piece by piece.
If this is all you do for school at this time, you’ll keep your kids moving forward with reading, writing, and math.
Slowly add extra subjects to your school day when you begin homeschooling. Remember there’s much to say for strewing books around the house. Strewing simply means leaving good books everywhere, especially the bathroom.
Leave giant art books on the coffee table, bird books near the windows, and children’s literature in the bathroom. Kids will discover the books when they’re bored, browse through them, and learn a bit as they go.
When you’re reading use Backyard Science for an easy and fun introduction to science and The Story of the World as an excellent read aloud for history and geography. Both of these offer countless opportunities to follow rabbit trails as homeschoolers like to say.
Rabbit TrailsRabbit trails are one of the best parts of homeschooling and an easy way to personalize your child's education.Click To Tweet
Simply put, you just follow your child’s interests.
For instance right now in Tapestry of Grace my family is studying Queen Victoria. My oldest daughter has developed an interest in the etiquette of the time period having read about the many dresses a lady needed to wear each day. She’s now researching Victorian manners.
My 14 year old son has no interest in Victorian manners but he’s fascinated by steam engines. Guess what rabbit trail he’s following? Steam engines!
Rabbit trails don’t just arise from your history studies. Kids can find topics they’d like to learn more about in science, children’s literature, or the last movie they watched. Encourage your kids to spend time researching these topics and develop a love of learning in your kids.
Notebooking is a method of recording your children’s lessons or rabbit trails. Your children write a sentence, paragraph, or essay about what they studied. Obviously 1st and 2nd graders will write only a sentence while older children progress to paragraphs and essays.
The notebook pages become a documentary about your child’s studies each year. You can see the rabbit trails, the lessons learned, and the experiments completed.
Writing also solidifies your child’s understanding of the material as well as gives you a portfolio to show grandparents. I need not mention that daily writing will improve your child’s writing like nothing else will.
The biggest secret to begin homeschooling is to remember to take it slow. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Concentrate on reading and math before trying to add extra subjects into your day.
Have patience when you begin homeschooling in time, you’ll find your homeschool taking off.