When back to school means homeschool: Five tips for a successful year at home

Submitted Article
Madcap Inc. Curriculum Development 

Parents may choose to homeschool for a number of reasons, but it’s primarily due to a mismatch between their child’s needs and the school’s mandated curriculum. However, simply knowing something isn’t working doesn’t automatically mean knowing what will. So where can they begin?

Finding the best curriculum for a child’s individual needs can be confusing. Here are five tips to help parents wade through the dizzying array of choices.

1) There’s Safety in Numbers:

Thanks to the exponential rise in homeschool families there are terrific communities to help find trusted resources. A great place to begin is Homeschool.com. They showcase a wide variety of curriculum choices as well as product reviews.You’ll have the opportunity to find out what other activities homeschool families enjoy, and helpful tips on handling those not-so-wonderful school days.

Communities also provide a platform for purchasing power. Seek out your state and local organizations for their coupons and promotions. Nationally, the Homeschool Buyers Co-op offers group buys, deeply discounting accredited homeschool products.

2) Standards and Awards Matter:

As traditional schools have increased standardized testing homeschool families have rebelled. As a result there are different options for the annual review. However, at some point children will need to take a standardized test. Using curricula that meets state or national standards will keep them prepared for their eventual return to the traditional school system.

Companies must pay entry for an award, but can’t pay to win. They’ve dared to put their content up for examination and review, so pay attention to what they’ve been awarded for. Read the review and compare this ‘unbiased’ version with parents’ viewpoints on the curriculum. Then decide whether it’s a ‘want it’ or ‘want to walk away’ product.

3) Keep It Simple:

Even experienced homeschool parents know it can be intimidating to teach a not-too-familiar subject. (Or not that good at – remember 5th grade grammar?) To save both time and dignity look for content and lesson plans made easy for parents to understand quickly. Ease-of-use is essential! Community sites such as The Homeschool Mom have helpful reviews and testimonials to help find a ‘best fit’ lesson plan.

4) Be Flexible:

One huge benefit of homeschool is the ability to easily individualize instruction. A child may be ahead in science and math but grade-level in English, requiring flexibility in curriculum choices. A trusted resource is Time 4 Learning. They offer comprehensive online content with a multi-grade approach. For one subscription price students have access to grades one level ahead and one below, allowing flexibility in pace.

5) Value Creativity:

The arts have been sidelined by the Common Core standards, yet are essential tools for a child’s creative development. So be sure to include art and music, as well as the so-called ‘core subjects’ in your school days.

The flexibility of a homeschool schedule allows time for music to include theory, composition and playing, not just listening. Art should include study of the visual arts and emphasize hands-on projects, not just viewing well-known works. In addition, encourage self-expression through educational and learning games.

Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun. Being a homeschool parent is a tough job, but the rewards are tremendous.

Madcap Logic, LLC was founded in 2007 by former animators from The Walt Disney Company with a vision to re-define Visual Arts Education. Collaborating with professional educators they produced Creativity Express, a multi-award winning curriculum that meets the National Standards for the Visual Arts. Creativity Express is available online, or in the App Store for your iPad.

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