New to home schooling? Try these top tips for rookie home educators

Learning pods help Atlanta students with at-home schooling

Whether by default or by choice, the COVID-19 pandemic has created multitudes of new home-schoolers around Georgia and throughout the country, many of which feel a little intimidated and overwhelmed at the prospect of managing their child’s education. Like it or not, rookie home educators often encounter a few bumps along the way as they take on the new adventure of home schooling.

If this sounds like your situation, take a look at these top tips and tricks, which offer seasoned insights and useful tools to use along your home schooling journey. Find the peace of mind and inspiration you’ve been looking for with these home school hacks, which can help you get creative and confident in your child’s education.

Your kids will thrive and you will survive with these nuggets of home schooling wisdom:

Shifting the paradigm

Tip 1: Try to let go of fixed ideas about education

While the traditional school environment typically includes a classroom with children seated in assigned desks, home schooling allows your family to break out of that mold and utilize the world as your classroom. This might look a lot different from the standard schoolroom, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less effective. In fact, children often blossom with the type of hands-on, experiential lessons that home schooling makes possible. Whether you teach fractions, weights and measures with a baking lesson, build simple machines in the backyard, step into history with a (masked) trip to a living history museum or achieve physical fitness with nature hikes, you’ll find endless ways to make learning part of the fabric of your family’s everyday life.

An individualized education

Tip 2: Focus on the specific needs of each child

It’s widely known that children with learning differences often struggle in a traditional classroom setting. Although you might assume it’s necessary to imitate the rate of learning found in a brick-and-mortar school, home schooling enables you to customize your school year to suit the needs of your individual children. This means if you have a child with attention issues or learning delays in certain areas, you’ll now have the luxury of spending as much time as your child needs to improve in those areas. If you have an accelerated learner on your hands, home schooling offers the opportunity to provide as much advancement and in-depth study as they desire.

Learning outside the box

Tip 3: Choose a curriculum that’s right for your family

One size does not fit all, and although public schools use a standardized curriculum to teach the entire class, that does not mean you have to use that same universal curriculum for your own kids. Home schooling allows families to explore the wide variety of educational philosophies out there, many of which work in harmony with children who need a more visual, hands-on, or kinesthetic learning experience.

Some of the most popular home school curricula include:

  • Classical Based on the philosophy that effective learning utilizes a three-stage approach, also called the Trivium, Classical curriculum takes children from memorization and recitation to reasoning and judgment. This method strongly relies on original source material and classical literature.
  • Waldorf Following the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, the Waldorf method was designed to educate the head, heart and hands of the child. With an emphasis on protecting the authentic creativity and innocence of childhood, students master subjects through storytelling, music, exploring the natural world and learning practical arts, like knitting, baking and woodworking.
  • Montessori Developed by Maria Montessori, this child-led approach suggests that children naturally want to learn anything if given the right environment and opportunity. Ideally, children would explore a carefully prepared space that features learning stations, hands-on projects and practical activities that encourage independence.
  • Charlotte Mason – Based on the idea that to properly educate the mind you should educate the whole person, the Charlotte Mason approach emphasizes teaching ideas and concepts instead of a list of facts, reading aloud together, keeping a nature journal and spending a lot of time outdoors.
  • Eclectic If you like the science portion of one curriculum, but the math portion of another, you might call yourself an eclectic home schooler. This mix-and-match approach combines different materials from multiple home schooling methods to create a unique learning experience that meets the needs specific to your family.

But, what about socialization?

Tip 4: Expanding the idea of childhood interactions

It’s a wide misconception that home-schoolers lack social skills. In reality, home schooled children typically experience a wide array of social interactions in a more natural and organic way than in a traditional school setting. By conversing and interacting with the wider community at large, instead of a room filled with same-aged peers, kids learn to communicate effectively with people of all ages, backgrounds, cultures and abilities. Activities home-schoolers can try that encourage socialization include Boy and Girl Scouts, 4H, home school enrichment programs like Christian Fine Arts of Forsyth, community theater, field trips and volunteering.