A warm welcome to new home-schoolers
6 tips to help you as you begin your journey
By Belinda Lee
What an interesting year 2020 has become. If you have joined us this year, I would love to welcome you to our community and we hope that together, we can support you and make you feel part of our community.
You may be thinking, ‘I’m not sure I can do this,’ or maybe ,‘This is going to be sensational,’ or you might be somewhere in between. To get you going, however, this article aims to give you some tips that may help you as you begin your journey!
- You know your child best
First and foremost, you need to believe that you are the best teacher for your child. This can be difficult, and I can almost guarantee that there will be times where you will doubt your efforts at being a home educator. But I need you to always remember this statement if you read nothing else in this article: You are the best teacher for your child.
Other people may know how to teach a certain curriculum well, they may have efficient ways to teach spelling, math etc. But there is only one person (or two if you’re doing this with your partner) who knows what motivates and drives your child, who knows how your child learns, how they emotionally react to things and what they need. But above all, there is no one else on this earth who would give their life and time to bring up this child the best that they can. Only you.
So read this again—‘You are the best teacher for your child.’
- Focus on your why
When I was deciding if I should home educate, like everything, I went to YouTube. I wanted to see how other parents were home educating, I wanted to be inspired and also wanted to know how to do this right.
However I quickly got disheartened, as my home wasn’t as organised, or pretty, or presentable, and we didn’t have a dedicated ‘home-school’ room because we live in a tiny home and we did our learning on the dining table …
But after four years, the best part of our home education is seeing my kids get excited about learning, seeing them form a strong family bond with each other and also treat others with respect. I realised that my home education mission wasn’t to have the YouTube presentable room and curriculum. The mission was for my kids to love one another and embrace learning. So know your mission, stick to it and remind yourself why you decided to do this. Focus on that and try not to compare. It’s absolutely fine to talk to people and look on YouTube for inspiration or guidance, but please know that your home education mission is your WHY.
- There is no need to replicate school at home
If you are in Victoria and you have registered your child for home education, you may be randomly asked to provide information as part of a review. This review will ask you to describe how you cover the eight key learning areas for one child.
However, in saying this, I urge you to not try to replicate school if it doesn’t suit you. Schools have to teach children certain subjects in certain ways, as classrooms need to cater to around 25 children in each class. But you don’t have to. Your child can take their time learning the things that they need more time in, but they can also dwell on the things that they want to learn more about.
If you find that your child doesn’t like math, but really wants to learn more about ancient Greek history, do what you minimally have to do with the math (personally, I might just drop math for a couple of weeks) and spend the day reading about the Greeks, narration pages, craft on Greeks (and maybe fit in some math by discussing how many phalanxes were needed for a strong barrier in the Spartan army – clever!).
- Don’t buy everything all at once
This one is hard to listen to. It’s almost exhilarating for me researching curriculums. It’s a sickness and I need counselling (joke).
This is advice I can give you from experience. When I first began, I fell in love with the beautiful curriculum that was available for my kids, and it’s true, most of it is beautiful, productive and well planned. But in all honesty, I bought too much and some of the curriculum didn’t fit the way my children learnt.
The advice is to get to know how your child learns, ask around about curriculums and recommendations. Also know that you don’t have to begin in January/February. If you find a curriculum in May that’s amazing and your child is excited, go for it.
- Find a community – Join HEN
The best thing I did when I first started home educating was to find my tribe. The first community I investigated wasn’t quite right, but eventually, I found people who I clicked with, and where my kids found amazing friends.
Through this journey, I have not only found a wonderfully supportive community that celebrates our children’s achievements and supports us during the difficult times, but I have also found some friends I now call family.
There are community groups all over Victoria and Australia, Facebook pages and (pre-COVID-19) many community meet-ups and activities you can sign up for. So don’t miss these opportunities and just give it a try.
And if you haven’t already, definitely join HEN. These wonderful people not only dedicate their time supporting us, but they also represent our voice to the government. I had to submit a review last year and HEN were amazing at supporting me in doing that.
- Find a mentor
If you know someone who has been home educating for a while, see if they will be that person who will help you answer questions about home education. Having someone you can call on to help with advice, settle any doubts or just to chat to can really help your journey.
Belinda Lee has home-educated her 3 children since 2017.
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