From kindergarten through 5th grade, your goal is to instill basic skills and cultivate a love of learning.
A schedule is great, but don’t tie yourself down. Some of the best homeschool adventures happen spontaneously.
Play outside. A lot.
Read books. Kids can learn math, history, science, philosophy, grammar, and everything else from stories — and some of those lessons go down a lot easier than they would with workbooks and bubble tests.
Keep a homeschool joy journal. The time flies by, and your memories of hatching butterflies and visiting Cherokee pow-wows will start to fade.
Let your child take some tests. Don’t make them a big deal. Don’t even grade them if you don’t want to. But give him the experience of sitting down to communicate his knowledge
It’s okay to stop doing it if it’s not fun. You can always come back to it later.
Find a library system that works for you fast, or you’re going to be paying a lot of fines down the road.
Don’t spend a lot of money on curriculum items for the future. You will change your mind at least a dozen times about what you want to do before then.
Take every field trip you can. Making time for field trips gets harder as kids get older.
Forget grade level. It’s okay if your 2nd-grader isn’t ready to read or if your kindergartner is reading 4th-grade books. Don’t pin yourself down with a preconceived list of things your child needs to learn at a certain time.
Make me-time. It’s essential to your wellbeing.
You will screw up sometimes. It’s okay. Be nice to yourself about it.
Play audiobooks in the car.
Pay attention to what your child enjoys. There’s a good chance that the activities she engages in with the most enthusiasm are indicators of her natural learning style.
You will sometimes waver between feeling like you are doing way too much and like you are not doing enough. You are probably doing just the right amount.
Buy more pencils than you think you need.
Don’t be afraid of screen time. Documentaries, interactive games, and even Phineas and Ferb can be learning opportunities.
Once in a while, take a day off for no reason.
Buy more bookcases.
Accept that you will sometimes succumb to the midwinter blues, when everything about homeschooling makes you feel tired, depressed, and unsuccessful. Promise yourself to take time off and not make any big decisions till the daffodils bloom.
Incorporate housework into your daily routine. Your kids can help. Your kids should help.
Resist the urge to move on to the next thing if your child is in love with a particular subject or activity. You don’t need to rush.
Some day, you may have to push through difficult subjects until both you and your child are reduced to tears. That day is not today. There is no need to force a piece of learning at this stage.
Write down your child’s stories and poems. You will forget them, even though it seems impossible that you could ever forget a poem about a renegade cat with a band of angry inkblots.
Some days, your children will be annoying. Some days, you might not like them much. That’s okay. Tomorrow will probably be better.
Remind yourself that homeschooling is a lifestyle, not just an educational plan.
Your child will amaze you. Pack tissues.
This list is adapted from a feature in the summer 2015 issue of HSL.