The 2020/2021 School Year is approaching fast! Guidelines are now starting to roll out in many states, and the question on many parents’ minds…what do we do?
Do we send our kids to school in masks? Do we split time between home and school? Do we homeschool? If you are asking yourself the last question, then, the questions that will come next after that one will most likely be the ones below!
Q: Where do I start?
A: Well this is THE QUESTION, right?! If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard/seen this question, I’d be a millionaire! This is absolutely a loaded question because there are so many parts that go into getting ready to homeschool. Thus, I will go ahead and say the NUMBER 1 thing you do before anything else is please check your local homeschooling laws! The best resource for this is https://hslda.org/legal! Some states don’t require anything from you, and then some you have to get your kid tested at the end of the year and even keep a portfolio of work.
Q: What do I teach my kid?
A: The last thing we want to do as parents is to fail them! This thought definitely carries over into homeschooling, no matter the reason for doing so. If your plan is to send them back to school when things calm down, I can understand the desire to make sure they stay on track with their grade level and not leave anything out. My suggestion is to google your state and then “common core standards.” You can usually find a document for your state online; for example, I searched “New York City common core math standards” and this was available https://www.engageny.org/resource/new-york-state-p-12-common-core-learning-standards-for-mathematics. If you cannot find anything online, you can request one from your local school district. Keep a copy and highlight as you cover each topic. A wonderful resource I have used since the beginning is www.ixl.com; it provides sample questions for each standard by grade level and subject. You do not have to use the paid version to see a few sample questions! We usually sign up for just a month at the end of each year to assess where each kid is compared to their aged grade levels. The one thing I have had to learn is that homeschooling or not, there will always be gaps in education! Do you remember everything you learned in school?!
Q: What curriculum do I use?
A: This is probably the 2nd most common question and the most difficult part of jumping into homeschooling, to be honest. It is extremely overwhelming the number of curriculums that are out there!! I can understand if you are feeling “lost” because I had that same feeling 5 years ago! To determine a curriculum there are a few factors you have to consider:
There are a ton of open and go, all-in-one, curriculums out there! The rule of thumb is that the more “ready to go” it is and thus less work for you as the parents, means the more money you will spend! You can absolutely homeschool for little money and even “free” under certain programs online if that is something that interests you. You can find a good list at https://freedomhomeschooling.com/
2. Religious or Secular
Overall, I will say in the homeschooling realm there is more material in the religious category. Cathy Duffy Reviews is by far the best website to check out to determine this information https://cathyduffyreviews.com/. It will provide for a curriculum its’ “religious perspective” and you can even search for curriculum with a specific filter.
3. Style of Teaching/Learning
There are many different styles of homeschooling; I could write a whole article just on that topic! There is a great quiz that nailed me right on the head as to my style that I would recommend you to take.
Once you know the style that you might prefer you can dive more specifically into the Cathy Duffy Reviews I mentioned above.
Q: How do you get the kids to take school time seriously and get their work done? I was so frustrated when it would take them hours to complete a simple assignment during e-learning.
A: I can only imagine E-learning was difficult! We had to do co-op classes via Zoom only 1 day a week, and it DROVE ME CRAZY when both of my oldest kids were on at the same time and then both needed me to help them! The main benefit of the choice to homeschool this year is that you do have control of the type of material your kids will have. You can go at a pace that is more comfortable with how your family works best! When it comes to getting the kids used to “homeschooling” in general, my advice is to have a designated area (even the kitchen table), that way they know space is for that. Schools have schedules and I feel like having a set routine is important so your kids know what to expect. I also use a reward system; they earn “school bucks” that they can use at the “school store” that comes out every Friday (BONUS: Teaching Money).
Q: How will I socialize my kids?
Well the word “socialization” has been a buzz word in the homeschooling world since time began right? To be honest, I don’t think anyone is going to get any this next year as usual! School “socialization” will definitely not be the same. The majority of homeschooled kids are very socialized; they do the same extracurricular activities as most kids and play with the neighborhood kids. This year, like everyone else, you have to make a personal risk/reward decision on that front. What we are doing is creating a “bubble” only agreeing to meet with 2 other families that agree with the same.
Q: What if I’m afraid of not being structured/organized/fun enough?
A: What you are feeling is totally normal, but I know this circumstance makes it even more stressful. I encourage you to view this time as a “COVETED” year not a stressful year because of “COVID!” Buy some learning games and spice your day up a bit. Have the structure that fits your personal style. If you have a personality that thrives on schedules, then that environment will work best for your family because when you thrive, so will your kids!
Q: I’m also afraid of it being too hard, or too lonely.
A: My absolute main advice is to get online and join as many groups as you can, local FB groups as well! Our local homeschooling association meets once a month via Zoom. This is super important for your mental health, thus supporting you in this journey and reminding you that you are not alone in this! Angela’s FB group Preschool at Home Moms Group is very active and full of constant encouragement!
I have created a FB group just for COVID homeschoolers, where you can celebrate your successes and be supported during the difficult times that may come! https://www.facebook.com/groups/2657760741138789/
Q: How do I handle having a full-time/part-time job as well?
A: Although this does provide an added stress in terms of planning, it is ABSOLUTELY doable! There is nothing wrong with schooling on the weekends, splitting lessons between mom and dad (or other family members), and even schooling at night. Try to be as consistent as possible, if you can, but more importantly, I would have some great quality time of joint reading or playing a learning game to kick things off for lesson time. I say this with an understanding from friends that the balance is very difficult and I feel getting that quality time in 1st as a priority will set a great tone for “school time.” Also, I was told this is a wonderful resource for support!
1. Grab a FREE Homeschool ID Card from https://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/homeschool-id/
This gives you discounts at Michaels, Office Depot, Joann Fabrics, The Container Store, Hobby Lobby, Barnes & Noble, Half Price Books, Adobe, Bose, and the list goes on!
2. Go on Virtual Field Trips
You can choose to go to local museums, aquariums, and zoos if you would like to; I would also like to encourage you with going on virtual field trips too! I found that so many places around the world, due to Covid-19, started providing field trips online! My kids loved these so we will be continuing them this year. Our favorites were the following:
3. Check out my video on general tips of homeschooling
This video was made solely to encourage fellow homeschoolers! I talk about things I have learned over the years that keep me a little more sane now!
I hope I have answered a good amount of your questions! If you have any others, do not hesitate to reach out and I will answer to the best of my ability/knowledge! No matter what your decision this coming school year, STAY SAFE, and be well!