There is a lot of terrible advice for new home schoolers who find themselves unexpectedly homeschooling.
Many parents of tweens and teens are pulling their kids out of school because their children are having some sort of trouble. Their motivation for bringing them home is their kids hate school and the parents are worried there will be permanent damage to their child’s psyche. Some parents even see homeschooling as suicide prevention.
If that is you, then you’ve probably gone beyond caring about the academics and grades that your child is achieving, you just want your child out of a toxic environment.
So here you are with a child at home (who often has quite a bit of emotional baggage that’s been generated from the previous school experience) and then you think, “Oh no! What do I do now?”
Traditional school has for the most part been your only experience of education and changing to homeschooling is a culture shock.
You may have removed the primary stressor of school trauma but now you need to fill the gap.
An abundance of terrible advice for new home schoolers is out there. Unfortunately, it is hard to discern the good from the bad. Here are some common “good in theory” but “terrible in practice” advice that you’ll see.
Rubbish Tip: Leave Them Alone
You may have done an emergency evacuation from school for your child and you NEVER intended (or wanted) to homeschool. You may work full time, run a business or just have a routine that doesn’t involve being your child’s teacher. So you are told to try to set up a system where your child “takes responsibility” for their education, aka does it all on their own, so you can maintain your previous routine.
Whilst the “work on your own” is a hopeful goal, it seldom works because children get lonely or they lack motivation. Your child has lost their teacher and peer group (as toxic as that may have been) and their social structure has fallen apart. Being home on their own or left to their own devices with no input can even make them think about going back to school just for the stimulation.
Good Advice for New Home Schoolers: Find Social Structure
Children will still need company when they homeschool even if you aren’t directly helping them with their lessons.
Your child will still want a social outlet, and I don’t mean an online one. Help them start or rebuild friendships. Spend time with your child doing fun things. Get to know your child better. You often find that many of their friendship needs can be filled as they get closer to you again. Sibling relationships can grow stronger as well. Help your child find new places to meet people.
Local homeschool groups can be a rich outlet but it can take a while to get to know the other families. I know a socially traumatised child will find it hard but make an effort to find a good fit for them.
Good Advice for New Home Schoolers: Do Get Counselling
“She’ll be right mate!”
I think Australian’s like the self-help method of working things out. However, counselling can bring a new perspective to your situation. Seek experienced advice and help your child find their way back to emotional health.
Rubbish Tip: Replace School with Workbooks Alone
I must admit I do cringe when I see this piece of the online advice for new home schoolers. It goes something like this – all you need to do to educate your child is buy some Excel workbooks for your child’s grade and get a subscription to an online program like Skwirk and then you’ll be right. Just to repeat, I’m cringing even writing it.
So, the parent grabs a whole lot of quickly chosen workbooks and presents them to the child. However, they seem surprised that their child, whilst relieved not to be in the daily trauma of school, seems dissatisfied with the new schoolwork option (which is much more boring than school).
Education isn’t just ticking a box of curriculum outcomes or keeping the kid’s busy while the parent’s get on with their own agenda.
Good Advice for New Home Schoolers: Learn About Homeschooling
If you never wanted to homeschool, the thought of having to work out what to do is not just overwhelming, it’s annoying. You’ve probably tried many avenues to solve your child’s issues and this was probably the last resort. You may feel totally unqualified to teach and worried you will fail. You may feel like you are missing out, however whilst there are disadvantages to homeschool there are many benefits.
When you homeschool you are now your child’s main educator and mentor. Learn about homeschool methods and learn what makes your child tick.
Good Advice for New Home Schoolers: Open Opportunities For Your Child & Get Outside
“I went outside once, and the graphics were terrible.” Online gamer’s meme.
Homeschooling is a wonderful opportunity and there are so many learning possibilities that can be found outside the home that were not available to them when they were at school.
Take advantage of them:
- Visit museums and art gallery
- Go to the theatre with a school discount
- Take art classes
- Go the beach or a bush walk
- Take them out for a morning tea treat
- Spend a day with grandparents
- Have some friends over for a poetry recital.
Rubbish Tip : Forget About Education & Choose Entertainment
On Facebook I often read a newbie parent declaring they just can’t get their child to do school work.
Another homeschooler might recommend unschooling, which is a noble theory when properly implemented, but some apply this to mean just let them entertain themselves then you won’t be disappointed. They advise anything goes, abandon structured learning and leave kids to sort it out their own education. Suppress mother guilt.
Really! Does that sit right with you!
Note: If you are interested in unschooling there is a great deal of philosophy behind making this homeschool method work successfully.
Good Advice for New Home Schoolers: Deschool
It can take a while to settle into homeschooling before your child starts to thrive. When they first come home they may be super keen to do their work and then a month later your child seems to lose all enthusiasm and you feel like all hope is lost and that homeschooling won’t work. This is often part of the deschooling process. Be patient and let them ‘wind down’ and recapture their will to learn.
Deschooling refers to the period of time it takes a child recently removed from school to get used to the unstructured environment of homeschooling. During this period the child learns to relax and recapture their love for learning. It is often suggested a child may take one month per school year to deschool (eg. 3 years in school = 3 months to deschool). It is a mindset shift for a child (and the new homeschooling parent). A helpful analogy may be the feeling that you have when you first begin a long holiday after a long period of work. It usually takes a while to wind down before you are refreshed.
A child who has been spoon fed their education up until now can find it difficult to know what to do without being organised by someone else and electronic entertainment is an easy option. Whilst this may be a part of their deschooling, I encourage you to help your child look for other natural learning opportunities. You want to start establishing new educational habits so try to set up a boundary with edutainment early. Reading books, getting out in nature, learning how to cook, doing some exercise, starting a project like making over their bedroom, are all productive activities.
Rubbish Tip Four: Expect A Quick Fix
“If it doesn’t work I’ll send them back to school,” says the newbie dad who has put a time frame on the whole homeschooling experiment.
Mistakenly, a newbie sees their struggles in the early days as confirmation that homeschooling is failing. And when the form of education that they have used as a substitute for school begins to falter they are left wondering what to do. Panic sets in.
Whilst “back to school” may be a solution, there are also some strategies that will help you reconstruct a new paradigm.
Good Advice for New Home Schoolers: Build A New Routine
When you remove the structure of school you need to replace it with a new one.
Good Advice for New Home Schoolers: Make Your Home A Learning Centre
A child at home still needs to be educated. And when you homeschool you can unlock wonder and discover the beauty of education. But it takes time to find your groove.
Respect your child’s need for an exciting and stimulating education.
Make home, a place where there is treasure within. Nourish your child’s mind, soul and body. Partner with your child to make learning an adventure. Enjoy the journey.
That’s good advice for new home schoolers.
- A Balanced Education
- Help My Teen Has Lost Motivation
- Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life : The Charlotte Mason Method