Friday, June 22, 2007

Homeschooling Tips

Kelly has put out a call for tips and advice about homeschooling. My first thought was to talk about how homeschooling can be done on a budget, but Alexandra did a wonderful job covering that. So, I decided to offer some more general tips.

1. Instilling a love of learning.
This is this most important thing you can teach a child. Children are born curious with a love of learning. They naturally want to learn. To keep them loving learning let them have some say in what they learn about. Let there be flexibility in the lessons. Let them lead sometimes. There are basics they must know, but if they know how to read and write well, and they can complete basic math computations, they have the base for everything else.

The education process (public or at home) can squelch that love. If that has happened to your child, you may just need to take some time off, back away from the curriculum, play games, read books about things they are interested in, and take lots of field trips. You can ease back into "book work" when you feel the child is ready.

2. Give the child responsibility for their education
Along with letting them choose, as mentioned above, let them self teach as much as possible. Kellen (8) pretty much does all his assignments on his own. He will ask for help if he gets stuck, and I will check over his work when he is finished. Lydia (5) needs a little more one on one until she learns to read well. Her math though she does pretty much on her own. When she gets stuck Kellen is as likely to help her as I am.

3. You don't have to do it all.
As a former public school teacher, our first years of homeschooling looked a lot like a public school classroom, at home. All the different subjects with a book and workbook to go with them. Now, for Kellen, we have one book, one workbook, and a three ring binder.

We tend to think that if there is not a book or a curriculum for a subject, the child will miss something. I used to feel that way. The longer I homeschool, the more I lean to unschooling, a term that made me shudder when I first read about it. I don't think I'll ever completely unschool, but there is value in this approach. My combined approach is working. I have proof. Kellen recently took the Terra Nova standardized test. His best scores were in Science (93 percentile), and Social Studies (99 percentile.) These are the subjects I haven't had a curriculum for in two years! He also did well in reading, language, and math.

4. It doesn't have to cost a fortune.
I know I said I'd let Alexandra cover this, but I just need to add a few things. Timberdoodle is my favorite homeschooling store. It is run by a homeschooling family. The prices are good, and the information about the products are personal. Request a catalog.

I've spent about $50 for next years "books." I still need to buy a couple things, but doubt they will add up to over $50. We use Miquon and the Key To series for math. Both are inexpensive. We are using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons for Lydia and Kellen will be doing a unit study on the Little House Books. We bought this used at a homeschooler meeting. Unit studies work very well for us, and they are very affordable. He just finished one based on the Chronicles of Narnia.

5. Enjoy the process
Have fun together. This is one I need to constantly remember. This job can be stressful and tough, but if I keep my focus on the big things; the Lord, watching the kids grow, life lessons learned, and our family time, the little things; the dishes not getting done, the school work we didn't get to, and my ever to long list of things to do, don't seem to matter so much.

For more tips and advice can be found at Pass the Torch.


  1. Thanks and great tips! I think some children really thrive with fits their personality and learning style.

    You should share your frugal homeschool tips as well! $50.00 is awesome! We've spent more, but I do purchase hard to find books from Amazon, so those upped my budget for homeschooling.

  2. Well done! What great advice! I'm so glad you joined us for the Homeschool Tips and Advice project.

  3. I have often thought about homeschooling my kids, I think it is so great! However, most subjects I would be great at, but math is a different story! I am sending my three yr old to Montessori preschool this fall, and it will cost me 235 a month! I would love a different alternative, but homeschooling seems like such a huge undertaking. How does a regular, non teaching, slacker as a youth in school person even get started?

  4. Alexandra,
    Well I'm not completely done, but I do rely heavily on the library and the internet. Maybe I'll do a post about it later.

    In the subjects you get stuck, you just learn with them. I had to relearn somethings, especially when K was doing fractions. EEK!

    I love the Montessori style, esp for little kids.

    Homeschooling can be a huge undertaking, but not nearly as huge as becoming parent. You don't do everything right, you have to learn to adjust, and figure a lot of things out. You read books and other information, and you ask those who have been there done that. Then you dive in and figure out what works best for you and for your children. And just when you have it figured out they change, life changes or you change and you all learn to adjust. (again) :)

  5. "The education process (public or at home) can squelch that love. If that has happened to your child, you may just need to take some time off, back away from the curriculum, play games, read books about things they are interested in, and take lots of field trips. You can ease back into "book work" when you feel the child is ready."

    AMEN!! "Burn-out" is not just a public education can happen at home. Thanks for the reminder!

  6. Your post has just de-stressed me! I am a bit behind in teaching me son maths and am ending up paying too much attention to schooling subjects and not enough time on me, Sean, my husband and my Lord. I get great encouragement from reading blogs like yours. It puts the whole home schooling experience into perspective. Thanks!

  7. Going to check out timberdoodles! thanks for the great tips! :)

  8. Unschooling is great. Maybe not total unschooling, but definitely a heavy emphasis on what is called "child-directed learning" because people don't truly learn anything unless THEY want to.

    I am an unschooler for the most part and I just graduated. I taught myself practically everything I know. I taught myself to read and do algebra and half a dozen other things.

    Also, Rainbow Resource is a really great source for homeschooling of any and all kinds ( They are a homeschooling Christian family. Their catalog is free and over 1300 pages. The reviews are really detailed and helpful and online you can preview a few pages from most of the books. Their materials are low cost and the only drawbacks I can think of are that their catalog is in black and white, their website is a tad confusing, and in the fall it takes longer for them to process their orders because everyone is ordering supplies then.