1. Read to your child every day.
Reading to your child every day can begin as early as when they are still in the womb. Then continue to read to him daily from the time he is an infant until he just thinks he is too old to have his mother reading to him. If you do this, your child will develop a love of books and a love for learning that will last a lifetime.
Take your child to the public library. Even babies love to go. Make it a regular routine. Allow your child to get his own library card as soon as possible. Encourage your child to check out books that interest him.
2. Teach your child to be an independent learner.
If your child can learn independently, this will prove to be beneficial during high school and college – and for the rest of his life. I always say “I’m not really a teacher; I’m more like a coach”. I do teach my children during the early elementary years. Then, over a period of several years, I slowly ease them into working almost completely on their own.
3. Include chores in your child’s daily schedule.
If your child does non-stop school work, it can become tiring. If they have certain chores to do throughout the day, it will break up the monotony. It will give him a chance to get up and do something physical and also allow him to take a break mentally. It is a good idea to post a chore chart somewhere in your home so everyone will know exactly what they need to do each day.
4. Attend at least one homeschool convention.
You will be able to listen to speakers give workshops on topics of your choice and you can shop for curriculum at the book fair. The Old Schoolhouse magazine has a list of current conventions. Check it out and attend one in your area. You’ll be glad you did.
5. Don’t isolate yourself.
Join a homeschool support group or attend a homeschool co-op. Check out Homeschool World’s list or Local Homeschool’s list of support groups in your area. Your child will build friendships and so will you. Homeschooling can be lonely if you don’t make connections with other homeschooling families. It is really important for your child to have friends at every age and particularly during the teenage years.
6. Give achievement tests.
Your state may or may not require you to give your child achievement tests. I recommend that you test your child at least every two years, even if it is not required. It will help your child become accustomed to taking a test that is similar to the SAT or ACT, which he will need to take if he plans to attend college. In addition, it will show you where your child is excelling and where he is falling short.
Don’t be afraid of testing. You will be surprised that your child will likely do quite well. If the scores are high, it shows that you are doing a good job. It also gives you something to show friends and relatives who might not support your decision to homeschool. They can’t argue with high achievement test scores. You can either administer the test at home yourself or you can have your child take the test in a group setting with other homeschoolers.
7. Be flexible.
If you have a plan for your day of school and something happens to change it, go with the flow. Here’s an example — when my son was in second grade, we were learning about famous works of art and discussing them. Suddenly he said “I want to paint”.
Getting out the easel, paper and paint and cleaning up the mess afterwards was not what I had planned for that day. However, since he was inspired to paint, I wanted to let him do it. He enjoyed it so much! Many times when you are studying something, your child’s interest will be sparked to learn about something else. If you allow him to follow his interests, it will create a love of learning.
8. Don’t compare and compete.
Comparison and competition are prevalent in traditional schools. I love homeschooling because my children don’t have to be a part of it. Some homeschoolers still fall prey to it.
If you see other children who you think are ahead of your child academically (or in any other way), don’t compare your child to them and don’t try to compete with them. Children learn at different rates; that’s okay. They all catch up with each other in the end.
I’ve noticed that when homeschooled teens get together, you don’t hear conversations about grades, AP classes, what college they’re going to, etc. They don’t feel the need to be ‘better’ than their friends. They don’t feel pressured to compete with each other and that is one of the many benefits of homeschooling.
9. Variety is the spice of life.
You don’t want every school day to be the same. Spice it up by doing something different every once in a while.
Set aside a day just for arts and crafts. Spend an entire day having P.E. or playing educational games. Go on a field trip. Go on a nature hike. Spend a day learning about and listening to music. Have a science experiment day. Practice for and perform a play. Pop some popcorn and watch educational movies.
Consider doing a unit study on something your child is interested in. Keep your child wondering what will happen next.
10. Be positive and make learning fun.
One of my sons once had a baseball coach who yelled at the team. He didn’t build the players up; he tore them down. It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it. You can correct your child in a positive way, rather than in a negative way. Build your child up each day and speak words of encouragement to him. It makes a big difference.
Make sure that learning is always enjoyable. If your child is having trouble comprehending something, try to think of a different way to teach the concept. Think outside the box. There are lots of creative ways to help children learn.
I always say “It doesn’t matter when the learning occurs, where it occurs, or how it occurs………….just so it does occur”.
Your child might enjoy reading a book late at night before falling asleep. He might like to do a science experiment right before supper. Allow for this so that learning is flexible and enjoyable. If you stand over your child like a drill sergeant, they will hate school.
Our first year of homeschooling, I thought that my boys needed to spend hours at the kitchen table until their lessons were done. They hated it; they would put blankets over their heads and hide underneath. I’m thankful that I quickly learned that this was not the best way to have school. Learning does not have to take place sitting at a table or desk. My children like to do their work on the sofa, sitting on their beds, lying on the floor, etc. That’s okay.
Do whatever it takes to make learning positive and fun!