There are many reasons why adults choose to home school their children. Whatever your reasons may be, there's a possibility that you're doing it for the first time. If so, this is for you. For those who find themselves suddenly homeschooling, we've put together all you need to get started.
At the time this article was written in April of 2020, we've found our world turned upside down by the global advance of the COVID-19 virus. As a result of this crisis, businesses and schools have closed, and people are isolated in their homes. Since there is no immediate end in sight, most of us are simply wondering how we'll continue to lead semi-normal lives, and also how our children will continue to have meaningful learning experiences.
It's times like this that the Wabisabi app comes to the rescue. The virtual classroom features and capabilities it provides are a perfect fit for those of us who are suddenly homeschooling. As you reference this article, be sure to check it out—you'll find it's the most accessible and most intuitive platform for all your homeschooling needs.
Now it's time to dive into what homeschooling looks like, how you can manage it, and what kinds of lessons you can provide for your kids quickly and easily. Consider this post your official homeschooling survival guide.
Structuring a Homeschooling Environment
The first thing you need to do is to find the right space for in-home education to take place. Since it's a place where focus and concentration on learning is needed, you'll want to gear your homeschool space toward this. Here are some quick tips to get you started:
Create stations for specific types of learning: This includes a focus on reading, writing/researching, video viewing, and creative hands-on work.
Minimize distractions of the wrong kind: For example, you may want to remove toys, non-essential technology, phones, and other such potential interruptions from the environment. Reinforce the idea that there is time both for play and for learning. Establish an area in the quietest and least trafficked part of your home for when school is happening.
Include distractions of the right kind: You're going to be taking breaks from screens and books during the day, something that doesn't often happen in a traditional school environment. When it's time for these breaks to happen, make sure they include any activity that doesn't involve schoolwork. For example, Katie Wells, the Wellness Mama, has a mini-trampoline set up for here boys in their homeschooling room so that they can let off a little steam during learning breaks.
Treat mistakes as chances to show your children that errors are not only natural but necessary for meaningful learning.
Make the space comfortable: Learning is much more natural and much more enjoyable when your kids are comfortable in their learning space. Make sure there is adequate ventilation and plenty of natural light, if possible. Try to avoid cramping the area, as well—room to move also means a place to think and, when needed, to play. You can even include a favourite piece of furniture yours kids may have, and other types of seating they will enjoy. Make the comfort of your "students" a priority.
Spruce up the space to make it fun: Learning can and should be fun! How can you build an at-home classroom in which your students will enjoy spending time? Get them to help you decorate it or paint it, and ask their input on arranging the space. Make sure there is a place where you can display and celebrate their work throughout the year in ways that are meaningful to them
Leave the House: Some of the best learning your kids will ever experience will happen in places other than your homeschooling classroom. Get outside and experience nature, go on field trips, visit places in your community where learning can happen, and use the teachable moments of life outside "school" as much as you possibly can.
Check out these resources for getting your space set up:
Homeschooling Resources from Wabisabi
We've developed a number of teaching tools that are available on our store that you'll find indispensable for different homeschooling projects. Some of our followers' favourites are listed below.
- Critical Thinking Companion: Enjoy dozens of challenging critical thinking activities and worksheets, a rubric for assessing critical thinking skills, and much more.
- The Essential Guide to Essential Questions: Here is an essential guide for creating and asking questions for transformational learning, containing hundreds of resources for mastering essential questions.
- Critical Thinking Cheatsheet: This is a simple infographic offering questions that work to develop critical thinking on any given topic. We also offer this resource in seven different international languages.
- Pocket Assessment: This is a "Swiss army knife" guide of the most useful and versatile quick formative assessment ideas around.
- Critical Thinking Brain Boosters for Primary School Learners: These super-fun and challenging worksheets provide activities young kids can use to learn and reinforce critical thinking skill development.
- Bloom's Zoonomy: This resource is all about helping your young learners understand and utilise all the different stages of Bloom’s Taxonomy in their learning adventures.
- Ready-Made Unit Plans: These complete unit plans have been hand-crafted and tested by our master teachers and include connections to both Common Core and Australian Standards.
What to Expect With Homeschooling
The first time you begin schooling at home can resemble being a parent for the first time. In this case, you're learning to be a teacher for the first time in a way you haven't been before. Like parenting and teaching, it will present you with a variety of both challenges and rewards.
First and foremost, you will make mistakes, and perhaps a lot of them. Making mistakes is not a bad thing at all. You can treat them as chances to show your children that errors are not only natural but necessary for meaningful learning. At Wabisabi, we firmly believe in the power of the teachable moments that exist in life all around us. These real-life situations should be an integral part of any homeschool curriculum.
You're going to wonder often if you're doing everything right, or if you're doing enough. If your children are experiencing meaningful and authentic learning, regardless of how much they learn in one day, then you're doing enough. If you're finding ways to make that learning both enjoyable and compelling for them, then you're doing more than enough.
If your children are experiencing meaningful learning regardless of how much they learn in a day, then you're doing enough.
Homeschooling provides a freedom that the school system cannot match. You're free to learn together and learn what you want whenever and however you want to. That said, homeschooling also requires an altogether new level of discipline and commitment from both you and your kids. It's up to you to provide and maintain structure for your learners in a homeschool environment. As we said before, there is a time for learning and a time for playing. Establish these firmly and adhere to them even more so. Once you all get used to it, you won't mind working hard when you know a brain break is just around the corner.
You'll get plenty of questions too, and not just from your kids. Friends, relatives, and colleagues will likely be curious about your choice to homeschool, if not more than perfectly willing to question your judgement. Let them, and be ready to respond with knowledge and heart. We urge you to research as much as possible the benefits of homeschooling and how to do it properly. There are plenty of parents out there like those listed above who have been blogging about the subject for years and have had enormous success with it.
Above all, be prepared to run the gamut of your emotions. You and your kids will experience joy, frustration, curiosity, confusion, happiness and many other feelings on the challenging but rewarding journey of homeschooling. You'll have setbacks and breakthroughs, and you'll be both tired and excited at the same time.
Embrace it all, welcome it, understand it as part of the journey, and do your best every day. Model curiosity, perseverance, and enthusiasm for your kids and they will follow you anywhere you want to take them.