While flexibility is one of the hallmarks of homeschooling, it is critical to have a basic schedule in place so that students are accountable for starting and finishing school each day. Everyone has a bad day where they don’t want to get out of bed or do any work but establishing upfront that school will begin at a specific time sets the expectation for child and parent. Of course, this can be moved based on circumstances and the family’s need but it should be a regular time for the majority of the year. Another benefit to this approach is that kids know when they need to focus on school and when they can hang out with friends or socialize which gives them a motivation to get the work done.
Every family’s homeschool situation looks different so you need to find what works for your but along with a school schedule there should be an established place to study and complete assignments. The benefit is that it can be the kitchen table, the living room or each child’s bedroom where they have a personal desk or space devoted to school. As part of the daily routine, each student must be in the study area at the start of school with their first subject either in hardback or with their tablet so classes can begin. It helps younger and older students to get in the frame of mind that it’s time to study and associates with area with that part of their day.
One of the parent’s primary responsibilities to ensuring that students have a great year is to find online homeschool classes that are accredited, meet national standards, easy to understand and are in a portal the student can work through on their own. Online homeschooling is a method that many parents choose because it connects the student directly with professional teachers for each class and allows them to work independently so they can complete assignments at their own pace. This is especially important when you have multiple children who all have different learning skills and levels so parents need to balance when and how much of their attention they need to give to each child. This may change throughout the years as students encounter the various subjects and their learning habits adjust. To make sure that everyone is working together, set a standard at the beginning of the year that you will meet with each child, one on one, to talk about how they are doing and where they need the most help. This keeps the communication channels open and helps parents talk with teachers and stay in front of any issues.
Remember that every child is unique so plans should be in place but have flexibility to adjust as needed throughout the year. A family’s first year of homeschooling may be the most challenging because everyone is trying to get used to the new format and see what works for them amid the advice of friends and online articles. When you find online homeschool classes through an accredited platform for elementary and older grades, then you can focus more on the print curriculum that the younger students are required to work from. Make time to work with each child and ask for their feedback on how things are going and what they would do different. The only wrong way in homeschooling is sticking to a plan that is clearly not working just because it worked for someone else.
When establishing the daily schedule, you should explain that during these hours, you are the teacher but outside of them, the teacher’s hat comes off and you are just mom or dad. This is important because families are together all the time in homeschooling and there needs to be some delineation between roles so that kids don’t always feel like they are a student. Learning can happen in a variety of ways and parents should invest in a quality online homeschool program but also take opportunities to get creative with fun trips and activities that reinforce what the child is studying. They can do this as a parent and not a teacher and should schedule these, as much as possible, at the beginning of the year so students have something to look forward to like they would a field or class trip in a traditional school.
Starting the year off right doesn’t guarantee smooth sailing for the entire time but it does help set the ground rules and expectations so every member of the family knows what their responsibility and role is. Take time to work together to create a plan that works for your household and remember to review it every year as children get older and needs change. Find online homeschool classes by checking out the best programs and read blogs written by experienced homeschoolers to get ideas on what you can do to make every year a success.