Homeschooling, School, Teaching

Homeschooling Tips

After seeing a few “rough homeschooling day” posts last night on social media, I felt called to compile a small list of my best homeschooling advice. 

I have been homeschooling my oldest daughter for 513 days now. She’s nine. I have also been supporting distance learning (a.k.a. homeschool) families now for 457 days. This is what I get paid for and I absolutely LOVE this stuff 🙂

So here goes … 

Tip #1: Determine what’s most important. Here you might want to consider what’s important work-wise, homeschool-wise, and family wise. I also highly recommend figuring out how you’re going to take care of yourself in the midst too (being sure to schedule it in). 

Here’s a few items that are important to me (to get you started): 

  • homeschool daily basics
    • reading
    • writing
    • math
  • certain # of hours of work scheduled in for the week (for me, not the kids)
  • one-on-one homeschool time with each of my kids
    • I schedule one-hour (broken up into 20-minute segments) every second day for each of them. They take turns watching our toddler while the other one is working with me.
  • one-on-one time with each kid
  • family time
  • husband time
  • me time
  • food prep and cleaning

Tip#2: Make a schedule / plan for your day (with the things you decided are most important). Kids seem to like to know what’s up and when. It’s good for adults too. It lowers anxiety because you know you have time scheduled in your day for the things that are most important to you.   

Tip #3: Keep it short. Homeschool “stints” should only be about 20 minutes long with either a break before the next 20 minute stint or a complete change in activity … observe your child, notice when they are getting antsy and respond by taking a break and coming back to it later in the day (or even the next day). 

This article explains this concept (and some others) really well: https://simplycharlottemason.com/blog/three-basic-cm-principles-subject-by-subject-part-2/

Tip #4: Know that it’s all going to be okay. When I started my homeschool journey, I remember having a lot of anxiety about “not doing enough.” I kept thinking of my daughter’s peers and how they would be putting in over six hours a day at school. We were doing far less than that (and we still do). I would say most days, my daughter “does school” for 1-2 hours (but spaced out throughout the day). She is learning and growing all of the time though (and in far less time than the public school model). We honestly just “ticked off” two Science outcomes in a week of talking about structures and materials; this would have taken months in a regular school.

Tip #5: Give your child a daily / weekly checklist (of things he/she can do independently). I only (finally) figured this out a few months ago, but giving my oldest her outline for the week on Monday morning has been a game-changer for us. She knows what she needs to do. She does what needs to get done and she does the tracking for the week. 

The checklist essentially takes me out of the picture. I am no longer telling her what to do all the time (something she apparently hates), essentially minimizing opportunity for arguments. The checklist gives her the freedom and flexibility to do what she needs to get done in her own way (and at a pace that suits her). Plus, I’m ACTUALLY still in control (and can ensure that she’s “doing enough,” because I’m the one who makes the checklist). 

*NOTE: My younger daughter (who has been home for three weeks now) also has a checklist, but it’s a bit more basic (and she requires a bit more support at times since she’s only six). 

Tip #6: Get a bucket for each kid and put all of their school stuff in there. Have your regular school supplies like pencils, erasers, rulers, scissors, and glue handy. Recently, my girls have actually just set up their own “pencil cases” with the stuff they need.

Tip #7: Make learning conversational. Bring it into your “everyday lives” … embrace curiosity … get kids to think … help kids make connections between things they read, see, and hear and “new” things that come up. 

Tip #8: Know that kids will misbehave. The (mis) behaviour you’re seeing though is related to one of the Four Crucial C’s. Knowing (and learning about) this has been another GAME CHANGER for our family … 

For more explanation about the Four Crucial C’s, check out this piece I wrote recently:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VKCeDN43-RPfA2sOFz3dj16ybLFiIeHVTrolINhEG8Q/edit?usp=sharing

And, that’s it. That’s all I’m giving you for now.

I have other ideas and other tips, of course, but I don’t want to overwhelm you … this is ALREADY such an overwhelming time for many of us, as we navigate our new current reality of “doing it all” from home without the support of caregivers, family, and friends. 

Finally, if you’re interested in seeing what we’re up to each week, I have started a Hintz Homeschooling Fun FB page. I’ve been trying to share some ideas for you all, but time doesn’t always allow for that. Be sure to let me know if you’d like an invite to the page.

I truly wish you all the best … I long for some more homeschooling “buddies” out there … it would be MY DREAM COME TRUE if some of you stuck with this “new reality” after all of this is said and done … there are SO MANY GIFTS that come from having your children home with you every day … 

Yours in homeschooling, 

Leanne Hintz

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