Homeschooling: Where to begin?

In her second guest post for Alt Ed Austin, Pamela Nicholas, founder of the tutoring, assessment, and project based learning center PEBBLES, shares a few thoughts on how to start homeschooling in relaxed and joyful ways. Feel free to add your own suggestions or ask Pam a question in the comments below.

As I peruse the many homeschooling social media groups, I keep seeing parents who are just embarking on the journey of homeschooling and don’t know where to begin. With the multitude of curriculum options out there, it can be extremely daunting to know which to choose for our own families. I know, as a parent and teacher, that we just don’t want to mess up, EVER, with something as important as our children’s education.

I wish I could tell all of these parents to take a step back and breathe. It’s okay that there will be trial and error, and more trial and error, but eventually they will find their way through it.

I also think that it’s critical to let a child be an active participant in the process. Listing out and discussing learning goals with a child is the first step. Once he or she knows what needs to be accomplished, provide some choices on how to get there. A child who is given a choice in how to learn something will be more invested in it.

When I say “Give children a choice,” I don't mean that they should get to pick and choose what to learn and what not to. I think there has to be a balance. A child still needs to learn things that he or she isn't always going to be highly interested in, at first, so the choice will be in how to learn it. For example, in learning to write, at the beginning it could be simple choices like writing letters with a paper and pencil vs. writing in dish soap or perhaps with “invisible ink.”

Parents and their kids can brainstorm ways together that could turn something that may at first seem like drudgery into something that could be quite fun. It won't always turn out perfectly, but it will be a beautiful partnership where everyone can take ownership in their own learning!

Pamela Nicholas