Homeschooling can seem like a daunting task at first because all the responsibility lies on your shoulders to get your kids educated. It’s especially tough since there isn’t a specific roadmap of how to best educate your kids. Despite all the challenges and sacrifices, I believe homeschooling is worth it, especially in your kids’ early years.
There are many advantages to homeschooling including:
- More quality time spent with your kids
- More attention given to your kids
- A shorter feedback cycle on your kids’ work
- The ability to tailor the curriculum to your kids’ interests and abilities
Once we started traveling abroad on our gap year at the end of 2014, we started homeschooling our kids. I’ve been able to witness the benefits of homeschooling as it has helped to accelerate my kids’ learning due to their consistent work and our immediate feedback. Homeschooling our kids hasn’t been easy, but through trial and error, we’ve been able to figure what works best and what doesn’t.
Here are six tips on how to be successful at homeschooling your kids, whether you’re educating your kids full-time or just helping them with their homework from regular school:
1. Foster a love for reading and learning.
Literacy is the key to opening the door to your kids’ learning. You need to model the way by first showing your kids your love for reading. Then you need to encourage them to read for themselves. Go with them to the library and the bookstore often. Read aloud to them. Share bedtime stories with them. Let them try to read along with you if they’re just learning how to read. And if they already know how to read, let them narrate the story to you. Do whatever you can to make your kids love reading.
2. Use technology to facilitate learning.
Whether you like it or not, technology and glowing screens are daily parts of our lives. Tablets, smartphones, computers, and TVs are now integral parts of kids’ lives. Screen time makes sense when done in moderation and when the screens are used to facilitate learning, such as using various learning apps. A particular favorite app of our kids is “Reading Rainbow,” which for a monthly or annual subscription, you can have access to hundreds of narrated picture books and videos, which are all tailored for kids ages and interests. Since my oldest daughter started using this app, her reading abilities and general knowledge of various topics has accelerated faster than I could have ever anticipated. And the best part of this app is that it allows our kids to self-direct their learning with minimal adult supervision.
3. Make a schedule and stick to it.
Kids need a schedule to their day, in which they can anticipate and look forward to what they will be doing each day. Give your kids a structured schedule that works best for your family. When our kids were not in regular school, the first thing they did after breakfast on weekdays was their homework. They’d get their workbooks and start their exercises as soon as they could. As soon as they finished their work for the day, which normally took no more than two hours, they would have the remainder of the day to do whatever they wanted. Some activities they did included watching some videos on the iPad, doing some art projects, or going out with us to explore wherever we were in the world. Our kids knew that there wouldn’t be any playtime without getting their work done first, which was enough motivation for them to get their work done immediately.
4. Keep things challenging and interesting.
Doing the same thing over and over can get boring quickly, whether you’re three-years-old or thirty-years-old. Mix things up for your kids when homeschooling. Give them different workbooks to work on for various subjects including English, math, social studies, science, arts, etc. Let them try to learn a new language. Do different activities with them, such as taking them to the local museum or zoo. Take them to a musical, a play, or the opera. Discover what resonates with them most and you’ll spark their curiosity naturally. And once you grasp what your kids like and are good at, keep challenging them to learn more and get better.
5. Be flexible and adaptable.
There are many ways to homeschool. You can homeschool full-time from kindergarten to high school. You can travel the world and homeschool for a short period of time. And you can mix regular local school while also homeschooling. The key is to find the formula that works for your kids’ education and your family’s schedule. Our kids enjoy being in regular school when we have been at home or traveled abroad and have also adapted well to being homeschooled when regular school wasn’t a viable option. Be flexible with your education model so your kids can thrive in any learning environment.
6. Let your kids lead the way.
Empower your kids to control their own learning, make mistakes, and stay motivated to keep learning. Listen to your kids when they tell you what they want to learn, what they enjoy doing, and what they think they are good at. Give them opportunities to try new things and challenge their comfort zones, but let them lead the way. Your kids have an innate desire to grow and become the people they were meant to be. Allow your kids to have a happy and fulfilling life by getting out of the way and letting them learn.