by Angela Taylor

As August quickly approaches many parents are trying to figure out what the best plan of action will be to ensure that their children will have the most success in the upcoming school year. If you are in the group of parents that have chosen to keep your children at home next year, I want to officially extend a warm welcome to you into the world of Homeschooling.

First things first. Take a deep breath, you got this! There is no one else more knowledgeable about your child than you are, and no one will be more invested in their education than you. Even if homeschooling is just a temporary solution to what is happening in our world today, this year can be the best one yet!

As a homeschooling veteran for the last 12 years I want to share my best advice for those getting started in home education.

1. Homeschooling does not have to look like traditional schooling. Your children do not have to sit at desks, they do not have to follow a strict schedule and they will not need to spend all day doing schoolwork. A kindergartener only needs an hour or two to finish school and the rest of the day can be spent exploring their own interest.

2. Set up a routine. Do not — I repeat — do not create one of those cute charts that have your student’s day planned out by the hour. There is no flexibility in a schedule. Instead create a routine. Wake up, eat breakfast, compete chores, get started on school, take a walk…etc. If a routine gets interrupted, you simply start where you left off. Routines are important for consistency, and consistency is the key to success.

3. Dedicate a school space It is hard to be organized if there is not a place to keep everything together. This may be a desk in a bedroom or the kitchen table, but make sure that the space has everything they need to be successful. It should be stocked with pens, pencils, paper, and other needed school supplies. It should also be free of distractions during school time.

4. Choose Curriculum that is suited to both of you. If you are not using the curriculum provided by the public-school system, then it is equally important that you choose curriculum that both of you will feel successful with. If you are not the crafty kind of parent, then you do not want a curriculum that you will continually find yourself dreading or avoiding. If your student is a hands-on learner then using a curriculum that requires them to do a lot of online work is not going to help them be successful.

5. Check in. If your student is old enough to handle their own school work, schedule a time each day or week that they have to check in with you so that you can make sure that their work is being completed or turned in. If you have younger students make sure that you are checking their work for understanding.

6. Remember that your child is an individual. They will have their own unique abilities and struggles. Give them the freedom to explore their giftings and the time to grapple with the subjects that they struggle with. Homeschooling allows students to run their own race and at their own pace.

7. You cannot do it all. It is okay to hire a tutor, put your student in an online class, attend a co-op, or trade teaching with another parent. And because all the responsibilities of home life do not go away, it’s also okay to hire a housekeeper, let someone else do your grocery shopping and to eat out on occasion.

8. Tomorrow is a new day. There are bound to be bad days, especially at the beginning when you all are trying to figure out this new normal. It is okay to set aside learning for the day and focus on strengthening the relationship between you and your children.

Lastly, you are not alone. You have the benefit of being just one of the thousands of homeschoolers in Texas. There are dozens of homeschool groups in this area that can offer encouragement and support along the way and help you make this the best year yet.