Serving the Home Education community.

12 Helpful Tips for the Beginning Home Educator

1. Read a few good books about home education. As you learn about its advantages and the potential challenges, as well as the different approaches you can take, you will be able to consider what would work best for your family.

2. Establish a vision and set goals: Why are you home educating and what do you hope to achieve? Remember to be realistic; the home education journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Be willing to adjust your short-term goals if you discover you’ve been overly ambitious or if unexpected circumstances arise.

3. Talk to other home educating families and develop a support system.

4. Ask your children what they would like to learn about.

5. Research curriculum and resource options and try to avoid making impulse purchases. Remember to use the curriculum and to not let it “use you.” It is a tool, and you can choose what to do or what not to do. (For example, your children may not need to do every question — or page — in their math workbooks.)

6. Try to teach some subjects like science, history, geography, art, etc., to all of your children together. Include even your young children. You will likely be amazed at how much younger children absorb when they share in these lessons. (Remember, though, that younger children will not be able to focus on one subject for as long as older students; don’t push them to exhaustion.)

7. Let your older children occasionally teach their younger siblings.

8. Remember: “Busy hands often open ears.” It may be helpful to let your children “do” — build Lego, play with a foam ball, colour quietly — while you read to them.

9. Be aware that there is simply no way you can teach your children everything there is to learn; there will always be gaps in knowledge, no matter where or how a student is educated. That is why learning is for a lifetime, not a season. Home educators will not cover every topic that children in institutional schools learn, and vice-versa; what is most important is that we give our children the skills and the desire to learn.

10. Manage your time and know your limitations. Home education requires a significant time commitment; some other things — even good things — may have to be set aside for a season. Remember that it’s better to do a few things well than many things poorly.

11. Work on keeping your house — including your educational materials — organized. It is frustrating to be ready to work on math but unable to locate the math book! Try not to gather too much “stuff” (since more stuff requires more organization), and include your children in household chores.

12. Be careful to not compare any of your children with their siblings or with children in other families, and don’t compare your family with other families. It can be wonderful to hear about all the good things others are doing, but resist peer dependence. You and your children are individuals, and you are your own unique family; do what is best for your family.