Friday, October 17, 2014

Five on Friday: Lessons from a Homeschooling Newbie

Biker Dude started school this year. Kindergarten! I can't hardly believe it.

Something I don't think that I mentioned on the blog before is the fact that we have chosen to homeschool. There were several things that factored into our decision, but I'm not going to go into that in this post. We're about one month into our homeschool journey at this point, and things are going pretty well so far. We have a bunch of friends who are also homeschooling their kiddos, so I was able to get a lot of good advice and help with curriculum from them before we started, which was really great. We've also joined a homeschool co-op group that has proven to be super, super beneficial for both the kids and I. (I'm really glad I signed us up for it, even though it was pretty far outside my comfort zone at the beginning.)

I'm a complete homeschooling newbie. I wasn't homeschooled myself. I'm kinda learning as I go - what works, and what doesn't, where to find resources and get help or support... I'm also learning that here is no "one size fits all" approach to educating your kids. What is working right now for Biker Dude is probably going to need some adjustments in a couple of years when Mountain Girl starts kindergarten. I've always had an interest in teaching, and I'm actually really enjoying myself so far. (Of course, like anything, it does have its moments...)

Anyway, for Five on Friday this week, I'm sharing a few lessons I've learned so far in our journey:

Five Lessons from a Homeschooling Newbie

#5 - If you reach an impasse, break the frustration by approaching the problem from a different angle or break away and do something completely different. Sometimes, Biker Dude just gets totally stuck on a certain point or problem in his work. (Hey... that can even happen to me sometimes.) I'll try to have him look at things from a different angle, or I'll try to explain it in a different way. But if we're still not making any headway with it, we are free to do something else and come back to it later. I love the flexibility that homeschooling offers!

#4 - Find your child's learning style and capitalize on it! Biker Dude has to move, like, pretty much all the time. Getting him to sit still and stay focused for two hours is a real challenge. If he can't stay on his chair for math... we move the chair out of the way and he can stand to do his lesson. (It's not what I would want to do myself, but he likes it!) Sitting and doing alphabet flashcards gets tedious for him, so we play a game where he can throw a ball for each letter he identifies correctly the first time. Same thing with counting - sitting still and counting to 50 gets old, so we go for a walk and count our steps instead. I'm working on helping him to learn to sit still and focus also, but that is something that is going to come with time - I can't force it.

#3 - Be flexible. We use a purchased curriculum, and generally we do one lesson per day... but if things are going very well (quickly, smoothly, and being comprehended well) we can do two lessons in a day. On the flip side, if things are NOT going well at all... we can repeat the same lesson two days in row. I really like to stick to my scheduled lessons, but I'm learning that it is okay to be flexible and make changes and adjustments as needed.

#2 - If at all possible, get the lessons done in the first part of the day. We get up, have breakfast, get dressed and then go downstairs to our school room as soon as we can. It is so much easier and more painless to get our lessons done in the morning than the afternoon. Biker Dude's focus is so much better first thing in the morning. I almost HATE it when our schedule gets switched around and we end up schooling in the afternoon. Today was one of those days. We survived it, but... whew...

#1 - Don't go it alone. Don't isolate yourself. I have found fellow homeschoolers to be very supportive. We can discuss curriculum choices and bounce teaching ideas off of each other. We can get together for field trips, and even just to let our kids play together. Our co-op (as I mentioned above) is just awesome. We meet weekly and us moms take turns teaching things that can be taught more easily in a larger group than at home - art, music, P.E., public speaking (just to name a few). There are also quite a large number of resources available online.

So there you have it! Five lessons from a homeschooling newbie. I'm sure I am going to learn a lot more as our journey continues. If you have been homeschooled, or are homeschooling your children, I'd love to hear about the things that you've learned along the way! Share your thoughts in the comment section below...


  1. I want to commend you on learning the fundamentals of homeschooling early on! We have been homeschooling for 8 years, and I completely endorse your points of flexibility and not doing it alone. We usually homeschool in the afternoon rather than the morning, because that is when my daughter is at her best. When my daughter gets stuck on an idea, or needs additional practice we turn to online games ( has been a long time favorite). Have you considered an adult exercise ball as a chair? My daughter, who cannot sit still at all, ever, sometimes uses the exercise ball. Balancing uses up wiggle energy, rolling around reduces boredom, and bouncing when absolutely necessary also uses energy. We have used the a version of the bean bag game you mentioned for math and spelling. I guess the most important thing I have learned over our homeschooling career is that every child is unique and every day is a new day. I feel honored to take part in my daughter's education, and her growth as an individual. Keep up the good work, and happy homeschooling!

    1. Thanks for the exercise ball chair idea! I just might have to try that. :)


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