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Dos and don'ts of homeschooling

Naomi de la Torre is freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom with two delightful boys, ages three and six. Naomi has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, is a self-proclaimed salsa diva, and can make a killer octopus ...

Homeschool parents share their secrets

There's no right way to homeschool, but there are some handy homeschooling tips and tricks that can make your day-to-day life a whole lot easier.

Learn from homeschool parents who've been there and done that and empower your homeschooling journey.

Take time to transition

One of the trickiest times in the life of a homeschooling family is the first year in home education. Whether you are starting from scratch with kids who have never gone to school or have pulled your kids out of the school in your neighborhood, the same advice rings true. Tyrza Cole, homeschooling mom of two discusses the transition to homeschool life: “Families need time to adjust to the new dynamic of homeschooling. Your kids are used to you being their mom, but may not accept you immediately as their teacher. Instead of pushing the envelope and leaping right into a strict homeschooling schedule, give your family some time off. Explore the world together, play together, go to parks and museums. The point of homeschooling is to inspire a natural desire to learn and if you simply pay attention to your children’s interests, you can discover what learning style will suit them best.”

Homeschool: Why are so many families choosing it? >>

Don’t recreate school

In my personal experience with homeschooling, I found that my decision to homeschool was met with a lot of concern and even disapproval from close friends and family. Your friends and family may think you have gone off the deep end when you tell them that you have decided to homeschool and may put pressure on you about how your kids measure up to public school kids. Are they reading yet? Can they do long division? Don’t fall for this trap. The beauty of home education is that you are no longer bound by the arbitrary standards of public school. Meet your child where he is at and follow his interests from there. Don’t feel the need to recreate the school environment at home. There are many different methods and styles of homeschooling (traditional, classical, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, unschooling, eclectic, etc.). Take time to explore all of them and discover the style that works best for your family.

How to find the right homeschool method for your family >>

Dump bad curriculum

If you are new to homeschooling, take time to explore all the options before you invest in curriculum. Cole explains, “One of the biggest mistakes I see new homeschoolers make is to invest in expensive curriculum immediately. New homeschoolers often feel like they need to do this in order to show they are taking homeschool seriously. But this is a mistake. If you take the time to explore slowly, you will be much more likely to find a curriculum or even a free program that works best for your kids. Ask other homeschoolers what worked for them, borrow curriculum to try it out and don’t feel obligated to commit to something until you are truly convinced it is the best available option for your children. And by all means, if you have invested in a program that isn’t working for you, feel free to dump it and move on. You won’t do anyone in your family any favors by sticking with a curriculum that isn’t suited to your kids’ learning style.”

What type of learning style does your child have? >>

Join a community of homeschoolers

The decision to homeschool can be an isolating experience. But it doesn’t have to be. Valarie Atwood, founder of Homeschoolers East Co-op explains why co-ops can help homeschoolers adjust to homeschool life: “Being part of a homeschool co-op is one of the best ways to ease your family into homeschool life. You will learn so many important things about how to structure your school day, what curricula are most popular with kids, how to find homeschool classes at the local museums and rec centers, and where you can meet up to socialize with other homeschool families. The transition to homeschool life can be confusing at first, but it is so much easier when you are accompanied by other families who have gone through the experience and can help to lead the way to a fulfilling and exciting homeschool life.”

Read more about how to get started homeschooling >>

More on homeschooling

Are homeschooled kids really lacking in socialization?
The homeschooling debate
Unschooling: Learning from life

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