Homeschooling 101: Finding Your Unique Path
Homeschooling is an incredible journey, but it can be overwhelming when you’re just starting out. As a question we receive often, we want to help you take those first steps into the world of homeschooling. The most important thing to remember is that it’s not about recreating school at home; it’s about creating an educational experience that’s tailor-made for your family’s needs and lifestyle.
We believe that homeschooling decisions should be made each year for each child, and adaptability is key. If you listen to my podcast, “Mom and Dad Are Fighting,” you’ll know that since relocating to Tokyo, we made the choice to enroll our kids in an International School. This decision allowed them to explore a different educational path, rich in diverse experiences that we believed would suit our family at the time. However, we’ve learned that the heart of homeschooling, the quality family time it offers, is something we truly miss.
So, while our current international school remains an excellent choice, we’re open to the idea of returning to homeschooling in the future. Our journey has taught us that it’s okay to change your mind and adapt as your family’s needs and circumstances evolve. Don’t be afraid to explore various paths, because in the world of homeschooling, there are no rigid rules; there’s just your unique family adventure.
Here are a few tips for getting started on your homeschool journey. I’ve also linked to our favorite Homeschool resources. This is in no way a comprehensive list, just what we have loved year after year.
1. Embrace Individuality
The first rule of homeschooling is this: Your homeschool should look like your family, not someone else’s. What works for one family might not work for yours. Don’t be afraid to embrace your family’s unique qualities and needs.
2. Blossom and Root: A Great Starting Point
One wonderful resource to consider is Blossom and Root, a secular curriculum that’s known for its book-based approach. Blossom and Root offers curricula for all subjects, making it a convenient choice for comprehensive learning. We’ve particularly enjoyed their literature curriculum, which can be adapted to suit individual student needs.
3. Hands-On Science Fun with MEL Science Kits
Supplement your science curriculum with hands-on science kits, like those from MEL Science. Their chemistry kit, in particular, is a hit for educational and enjoyable experiments that you can continue just for fun.
4. Handwriting and Keyboarding Without Tears
Learning Without Tears offers excellent resources for handwriting and keyboarding. You can choose from various levels and resources, including textbooks, workbooks, and teacher guides to suit your preferences and your child’s needs.
5. Finding the Right Math Curriculum
Math curriculum varies depending on your child’s learning style. Singapore Math is what we’ve always used. They offer various curriculum options. Sample pages can help you determine which one works best for your child’s learning style. There are many other math curriculums. Orison Orchards offers a nice comparison chart.
6. The Joy of Music, Language and Art
Music: Enrich your homeschool experience with music from SQUILT Music. This is a lovely music appreciation program that we continue to use even in years when we are not homeschooling. Prodigies Music is a music curriculum done online aimed at children 2-12 and focused on playing a musical instrument. We used this with our younger kids to introduce bells, ukelele, and piano.
Foreign Language: We use Talk Box Mom for foreign language support. Talk Box Mom makes it really easy to manage and use a new language even if you as the parent have no language skills. They also have the absolute best customer support.
Art: Blossom and Root has an art curriculum that we love but I also really enjoy the freedom of just delving into different types of art. KiwiCo ‘s Maker Crate is a great way to try a new art technique each month. (Full disclosure. KiwiCo is a supporter of our podcast Mom and Dad are Fighting so they send me crates to try periodically.) We also love Let’s Make Art. They have a kids box but we loved the watercolor box for adults to use as a family.
7. Creating Your Unique Schedule
The beauty of homeschooling is that you can craft a schedule that suits your family. For us, a balance of outdoor adventures and independent reading time was ideal. Afternoons spent lost in the world of books became cherished moments. The schedule freedom is what we are currently missing the most in our traditional school life.
Remember, the essence of homeschooling is crafting an educational journey that aligns with your family’s values, lifestyle, and your children’s unique learning styles. Let the world be your classroom, and let your family’s story be your curriculum.
8. Buy In Groups
There are so many great educational apps and web pages out there to help you on your homeschooling journey. My kids have learned so much through apps like Prodigy, Hooked on Phonics, iXL, and SumDog just to name a few. When considering these look for buy-in groups to help keep your costs down. I’ve used many through the years depending on what we needed. The easiest is Storms in the Sky – they don’t have everything but they have some of our reliable favorites and they are easy to use.
A final reminder that this is your school. You should do what feels right for your family. Read a bunch of homeschool blogs, and find other homeschoolers on Facebook or Instagram. Your homeschool should be inspired by those you see, but ultimately meet your family’s needs.
If you still feel lost check out Homeschool On’s “Homeschool Style Quiz” for some ideas and guidance. It is not definitive, but it is a great place to get you thinking about what you want.
I hope this helped. If you have a good tip for new homeschoolers feel free to leave it in the comments.