Homeschooling is a lot of things. Homeschooling is fun, challenging, exhausting, uplifting, rewarding, stressful…What are the things you truly need to successfully homeschool your child?
In my nearly two decades of homeschooling I’ve come to believe a few truths (ok, more than a few), and I decided to put them all together in one convenient post for you. What follows is a list of tips from me to you, tips that I recommend after making so many mistakes.
20 Things You Need to Homeschool
1. Flexibility (things don’t always go as planned, learn to roll with the punches and step outside of the schedule for maximum enjoyment and flexibility!)
2. Insight (your family is NOT the same as other families, don’t compare yourself to anyone else!)
3. A library card (you don’t have to GO to the library, although that’s good too. You can use your library card to download FREE books, audiobooks, and movies to your computer/tablet/phone, study a foreign language, research your ancestry, check out passes to local attractions…)
4. Internet (I know, I know, this is more of a want…but it’s not really. The thing is, the internet is a wonderful way to get support from other homeschoolers, find awesome activities to do, find curriculum, look up the answers to all the questions the kids ask…that it’s well worth the expense. If you are worried about the cost of internet access call your local cable internet/tv company, many offer a low price plan for families who qualify.)
5. Creativity (this one has less to do with craftiness than it does quick thinking. Projects won’t turn out well, resources will be unavailable, your kids will want to learn things you can’t teach…creativity is needed to figure out a solution! Don’t worry, creativity improves with age!)
6. A case of pencils twice a year. (Ok, maybe once a year for some, but for us it’s twice a year. Don’t go with cheap pencils, trust me on that one!)
8. Patience (really, lots and lots of it. Patience with yourself, your kids, strangers you meet on the street…)
9. A willingness to listen (listen to your child and pick up their body cues to determine when something isn’t working and when something is working)
10. A willingness to change (I know you paid a million dollars for that new curriculum, but if it’s causing tears and anger it’s not worth it, it just isn’t. Read Is This Curriculum a Match for My Child for more information)
11. A sense of fun! (Your kid might hate math, but do they hate games? Get out the chalk and make a hopscotch addition board, or pull out a board game, or maybe let your kid squirt you with a hose for each correct fact…get out there and have fun! Life is so serious but it doesn’t have to be like that all the time!)
12. A sense of adventure! (Homeschooling has allowed me to do so many things with my kids that I would have never done before, including going to a worm farm!)
13. A sense of humor! (It helps to deal with the stress and frustration!)
14. A sense of wonder! (Do you remember being a kid and being amazed at the simple things? Homeschooling allows you to relive that wonder with your kids. Jump in the muddy puddle. Remember how it feels to squish oobleck between your fingers. Marvel with your kids at the colors different types of salt make when they are burnt. Remember what it’s like to be new at living again!)
15. A way to organize (I am NOT an organized person and I have ADD so I had to make a system that worked for me. We have to keep portfolios for evaluation purposes, read about how I manage to keep things under control with minimal paperwork. Experiment with finding an organizational method that works for you.)
16. Knowledge of the law (You need to know the law in your state/province better than the school officials do, you also need to know how it’s practically applied. I suggest skipping the alarmist/extremist HSLDA and going for a more neutral source, such as A to Z Homeschooling)
17. An arts & craft budget (These are items that can be picked up a bit at a time, though if you can manage an extra $30-40 at back-to-school time you’ll get more bang for your buck! Things I constantly run out of are construction paper, acrylic and tempera paints, and crayons! If you can set aside just $10/month for arts and craft supplies you’ll have a great stock in no time!)
18. A map to the nearest dollar store (seriously, one of the best places to get supplies! Check out this post about homeschooling at Dollar Tree!)
19. Support! (Whether it’s an in-person support group or an online group, you need support from people who homeschool. Look for people who are similar to you in methodology/beliefs/children’s ages, but also look for bigger picture groups for bigger picture support. Check Yahoo Groups, Facebook, and Meet Up…but if you cannot find acceptable help trying making it. Learn how to start a support group.
20. YOU. The most important part of homeschooling is YOU. Kids are naturally curious and it’s your job to provide them with things to be curious about and the tools to satisfy their curiosity. You don’t have to be wealthy, you don’t have to be Mary Poppins, you don’t have to be the milk & cookies type of person…just be there to listen and guide.
Meg Grooms is a decades-long secular homeschooling mother of 6 children, ranging in age from preschool to married with kids of their own. Always a vagabond at heart, Meg and her family have embraced a slow travel lifestyle, currently calling Southern California home. Your guess is as good as hers as to where they’ll end up next.
Meg blogs about secular homeschooling and gameschooling at Homeschool Gameschool.