Starting a Successful Home School

Monday, December 9, 2013
More families are looking for alternatives to traditional public schools. School closings and teaching faculty reductions are leading to over – crowded classrooms that don’t seem to meet all student’s needs. Home schooling is one educational option available to families seeking an alternative to their local public school system. This article highlights four things that will help you get your home school off to a good start while meeting all of your student’s educational needs.

1. What can you teach successfully?

As an adult, chances are you can remember that one subject you were good at in school. Whether it came naturally for you, or you simply studied hard and still remember the content, you probably know the subject well enough to teach it to your home school students. However, you should still take some time to decide whether or not you can teach the subject to your students. Unless you have teaching experience as a classroom teacher or tutor, consider doing some research on lesson plan writing, content organization, and techniques for differentiating your instruction to meet all student’s learning needs. This will give you a realistic view of the time commitment necessary to teach a subject effectively.

2. Look for help

Armed with the above knowledge, you may decide you need another hand or two to share the teaching duties. Writer John Donne wrote that, “No man is an island”. This describes a worthy approach to home schooling. Teaching well takes a lot of time and energy – and usually a group of people sharing the load. Consider having other family members, friends, neighbors, or tutors help teach some of the subjects you’re not comfortable teaching. Meet with them and explain your home school plan so they understand what you expect of them if they agree to help you teach. Taking the time to find people who are well – versed in your weaker subjects will pay off in a big way in the long run.

3. Consider your student’s learning styles

Successful teachers always write lesson plans with an eye to their student’s learning styles. If you are the student’s parent, you know them better than anyone! Think about times when they seem completely engrossed in an activity. Does your child like to do puzzles or build things? Make sure to include some hands – on activities for them. Are they able to recite stories you read to them years ago? Include some auditory (listening) activities in your lessons.

If you decide to have other adults share the teaching responsibilities, fill them in on what you know about your child’s learning style. Give them examples of times when they spent hours quietly doing an activity. They will appreciate the information and your students will benefit from the individualized instruction they will receive.

4. Include long – term plans

One of my professors in Teacher’s College at Ball State University repeated this phrase to us every day so we’d never forget it, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” This is true for both short and long – term plans. You will need to make daily lesson plans, 10 to 12 – day long unit plans, and a general plan for what you’ll teach each grading period. You’ll also need to consider your student’s long – term goals.

Granted, long – term educational planning is very different for 5th graders versus 9th or 10th graders. However, you owe it to your students to plan ahead and see what they’ll need to know and be able to do so they can meet future academic goals. For example, does your student have a particular professional goal in mind? If so, is there a specific college they need to attend to reach their goal? What are the admission requirements? Do they need specific SAT or ACT scores for admission? Talk to your students about their goals and research what they will need to make them happen.

If you are considering home schooling your children, you owe it to them to take the time to complete these four tasks early in your home school journey. There are several large, well – established home school organizations that offer free resources to help you and your students be successful. Most organizations also offer a two or three – day home school conference that is open to the public. Visit their website to learn about conferences and other training opportunities they offer.


Home schooling has become the education of choice for an increasing number of families. Parents can help make their school a successful one by taking a few steps early in the home schooling process. First, they should consider their own academic strengths and weaknesses and decide what they feel well - equipped to teach. It’s also beneficial to gain perspective of the time requirement for planning successful daily lessons and activities. Secondly, parents should seek knowledgeable, qualified adults to help them with subjects they feel less – equipped to teach. This will ensure that their students get the best education possible.

Parents can help their students be successful by considering student’s individual learning styles, too. This ensures that there’s a wide variety of activities that will help all students learn. Finally, consideration should be given to each student’s long – term academic goals. Find out the skills and knowledge – as well as standardized test scores – your students will need to reach their goals.

I hope you found this article helpful. Please take a minute to leave a comment, Like this post on Facebook, or Tweet the post via Twitter using the buttons on the right side of this blog page. If you have questions about whether a tutor is right for you, or if you would like advice for your unique situation, feel free to E-mail me using the “E-mail Jeff S.” button on my Wyzant tutor home page.
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