If you’re one of the thousands of new homeschool families, here are 7 powerful mindset shifts that will help your new life of teaching at home more peaceful and productive.
There is a steep learning curve to go from the formality of doing school at home to a unique-to-your-family homeschooling life. What do I mean by that? School at home is recreating a school environment at home. Sitting at desks for instruction, having set times and rigid schedules, being bound to curriculum, and insisting on getting it all done every day at the expense of your unique family needs.
The problem with the school-at-home mindset is that you are now trying to do recreate a traditional classroom while living real life with real people at the same time!
What Veteran Homeschool Families Know
I’d like to share some words of encouragement as a long-time homeschooling mama to help make that transition to home educating as smooth and enjoyable as possible. There is incredible freedom in homeschooling which is what provides the most profound benefits of educating children at home.
Have teens that like to sleep in? Start school later. Have a 5th grader reading at a 3rd-grade level? Teach him at his level. Have a child who loves to be outside? Move your classroom outdoors. Having a bad day? Pack a picnic and go to the beach or the park for the day.
The following list of seven mindset shifts for new homeschool families will help you avoid the many pitfalls of expecting your homeschool to look like a traditional class room.
Mindset Shifts for New Homeschool Families
Don’t try to recreate school at home. Yes, you’ll need books and pencils and a place to sit BUT you now have the freedom to choose a curriculum that works (and get rid of or modify ones that don’t). You can start school at 8:30 am or 10:30 am or any other time that best meets the needs of your unique family. You can do school at desks or the dining room table or the living room couch. You can spend all day on science if the kids are really into it one day. The more you embrace your freedom, the more you will all enjoy your homeschool days.
No day goes perfectly to plan. I hate to break it to you, but after 24 years of homeschooling, I have yet to have a day go just as I planned. So much of successful homeschooling is having the right expectations. Knowing that you will have to pivot throughout your days, enjoying what you are getting done, and letting go of the rest will serve you well.
Relationships first. Did you ever have a teacher or tutor that you really connected with? They believed in and found the good in you. When we put our relationship with our kids before our schedule and lesson plans we are setting ourselves up for success. What does this look like? Some days are just hard. Maybe your child is tired from a long weekend, upset about an arguement with a friend or sibling, or, as with dyslexia, just not able to focus. Stopping to talk your child through their difficulties and even switching plans for the day can help them feel heard and validated as well as teaching a valuable life skill of self-awareness.
Follow interests. One of the biggest benefits of homeschooling is allowing kids the time and freedom to pursue their interests. Be on the lookout for these throughout your days and weave them into your learning. For example, for your animal lovers, choose reading material about animals, animal-based carers, etc. Learning is so much more natural and effective when kids are motivated to learn. Often times, these interests will lead to their future career.
Slow down. Getting into a homeschool rhythm takes time and patience. At the beginning of every school year, we take our time adding a subject or two in each day or two. Once those subjects find their spot in the routine, we add a little more until we find a rhythm that works.
It’s okay to ask for help. Can dad or another relative help with certain subjects that you’re less comfortable with or don’t have time for? Can you trade watching kids or teaching certain subjects for another homeschool family so you can share the load? Be creative and don’t be afraid to hire a tutor or sign up for classes to help ease your load.
Use good curriculum that helps with independence. There are many excellent curricula available today but still only one of you! Finding quality, online curriculum is another excellent way to teach your kids while encouraging independence. One of our all-time favorite computer-based programs has been Teaching Textbooks for math. Did you ever have a math teacher that really had a gift for teaching math concepts? Yeah, me neither! You can read why I think Teaching Textbooks is like having the good math teacher – every year!
Teaching Textbooks is unique because their audio-visual lectures can be paused or rewound as needed. Solutions to problems are entered right into the program and graded immediately. Students can opt to watch the solution or see a hint to help them complete their daily assignments independently.
Teaching Textbooks does all the grading for parents even in upper-level math!
Free tutoring is available for users of Teaching Textbooks. If a TT student struggles with a concept and cannot figure it out using the hints and second chances in the program, the parent can call customer service and ask for a tutor to call them back and help them with that problem.
If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure which level to go into, you can take a free, online placement test.
If you’re interested in trying Teaching Textbooks they even offer a free trial as a no-obligation chance to try the program.
Homeschooling is life-schooling. I love how homeschooling is sometimes referred to as ‘life-schooling’. Being intentional about how you live your days by including your kids with the day-to-day running of the house, taking meaningful trips, slowing down to hear their hearts (even if you’re trying to check off the boxes and get school ‘done’) is where the benefits of home education really begin to show up.
Having the mindset of living and learning together makes life a learning experience. Once you embrace your freedom to give your kids an individualized education, you will take off!