Interested in Homeschooling? Tips on how to start.

Homeschool Tips | Habbi HabbiShanell | Mom of 1 | IG: @twolightsacademy
Lives in Texas, US | Native Language: English 
Homeschooling her son, teaching Spanish as a non-native speaker 

With schools turning to online learning and so many people opting to keep their kids at home, we wanted to get guidance from the amazing experts who do it every day - homeschool moms. Here, we share insights from our exchange with Shanell, Coast Guard Family and Homeschool Mom of her 6-year-old Sprout. She leads us through her day, shares her philosophy on picking materials, and answers practical FAQ! 

Would love to start with how your structure your day! 

I like to talk about ‘rhythm’ versus ‘time frame’ - because part of learning is being flexible and adapting to our kids and how they respond. My rhythm: 

  • We start with relaxation: For us, that’s yoga and meditation. 
  • Then we go into ‘Morning Magic’ (some call it ‘Morning Basket’): It’s a collection of topics from character building to art appreciation to nature study to reading aloud. 
  • From here we enter into ‘Core Curriculum’: The 3 topics we cover every day are: Reading, Math, and Language Arts. Other topics we rotate - such as Spanish, Geography, Geology. 
  • We always end with independent reading: I grab a book I want to read. He grabs a book he wants to read. And we’ll sit down to calming music and read together. 

These activities usually fall between 10am and extend no later than 3pm. The most important thing is to be observant of my Sprout - if he is starting to get tired or needs a break, we take a break with 15 minutes of free play before jumping back into our studies. It’s very important to me that he is happy, enjoying learning and doesn’t feel overwhelmed. 

How do you pick (or make) homeschool materials?

So many people know that each child is different and that they should observe, listen to, and adapt to their child. Yet still, when it comes to schooling, they expect a list of ‘best materials.’ We really believe that it is important to follow your child and understand his or her learning style. For my Sprout, he learns through rich literature and stories. Others are audio learners or visual learners. Knowing my Sprout loves stories, I focus on trying to find materials that enable him to learn subjects through stories - versus worksheets or memorization. 

For example, with Math, the ‘curriculum’ I follow is Singapore Math. But to learn the concepts, I will bring out story books that have math concepts in them. I’ll also bring out our SumBlox, so he has hands-on activities to make him feel like he is both playing and learning. 

As another example, teaching a foreign language is really important to me, and he was really interested in Spanish. We want him to be fluent, but we’re not fluent. So it was important for us to have something that allowed him to hear the words in the accent but also be hands-on, in a multi-sensorial experience. That’s why when I saw the Habbi Habbi books, I thought - I have to have them in my home. We love them so much. 

What do you think is the role of Mom or Dad (or Caretaker)?

A lot of parents ask if their kids can learn independently, or whether I’m sitting there with him. For the most part, I am there because I like to observe, answer questions, or unblock an exercise. But of course there are blocks like independent reading or certain exercises where I can start him off, and he can work relatively independently - while I go make lunch or start a load of laundry. 

I also write everything out in our planner - so that way he can look at it and see how our day is going to flow. 

How do you keep on track?

People ask this a lot, and it can be very sensitive. But I turn to two sources. One is Rebecca Rupp’s book Home Learning Year by Year, which lays out - from preschool to high school -  exactly what children learn at every single grade level. The other is the HSLDA website for each state. They will let you know what your state recommends. I look at these two sources and just make sure we’re on track and ahead of the curve. 

Stepping back, what is your most important tip? 

A lot of parents feel nervous about starting, and I always tell them - no matter what your background is, you know your child better than anyone else. Some days will be higher, some lower - but you will make it through the day! Focus your day on the love you are putting into what you are teaching, not how many subjects you are covering in a day.


Written by H&AL of Habbi Habbi; first published on Red Tricycle | 20.08.11