How to Start Homeschooling:
Do I have What it Takes to Help My Child be Successful? Or Will I Mess Him Up?

Girl learns to make fire rubbing sticks together

Boy learns to paddle board

If you're worried about how to start homeschooling, don't be.

You have what it takes to help your child be successful!

I know that's bold for me to say, right? We haven't even met face to face, but I know it and believe it anyway.

My thinking works like this: Have you ever watched one of those nature shows where the baby horse or deer is born? As soon as it pops out of mommy and falls to the ground, it stands right up and starts running!

That has always seemed amazing to me since it takes a child almost a year just to start toddling.

But for a horse, running is instinct. It is what the horse needs to survive, and it does it naturally.

Learning Happens Naturally --

Young girl learns to hold breath and swim underwater

For humans, our natural instinct is learning and communicating. It happens on its own. That's not just my opinion, research suggests the same thing!

We taught our children (and you've probably done much of this, too) to:

  • Take their first steps,
  • Count to ten,
  • Count backwards,
  • Say their name,
  • Write their name,
  • Speak their first words in three languages,
  • Tie their shoe,
  • Go to the bathroom,
  • Kick a ball,
  • Ride a bike,
  • Waddle in a pool and not drown,
  • Sing the ABC's.

What always amazed me is that our children (and yours, too) really do more of the learning than we do of the teaching.

Take swimming or riding a bike for example. Sure, mommy and daddy opened their mouth and said something about swimming and riding a bike. We showed them how we do it. But at the end of the day, like magic, they picked it up on their own.

We didn't make them do anything. We didn't get into their brain and start riding the bike for them.

That transfer of knowledge is like magic. They picked the lessons out of the air and pretty soon they were riding the bike or swimming safely. They just "got it."

If you love your child and want to give him the best chance for success in life...

... Then you don't need to worry about how to start homeschooling. You have what it takes to create a successful environment. You've been doing it all along and probably didn't even know it.

The learning happens on its own. It's part of our natural instinct. Your responsibility is to help nurture it.

The focus is not so much on you doing the 'teaching', it's on guiding and enabling your child and allow him to 'learn'.

The Self-Taught Method

In our home school we follow a self-taught method.

Our kids are responsible for teaching and studying on their own (we do spot checks and are available to help, or lead them to help).

Even when they were 7- and 9-years old they did almost all the subjects on their own, maybe 75% if I had to put a number on it.

Two years later they were doing about 95% of the learning and teaching on their own.

We take the time to find good resources (books, courses, online curriculum), and then do spot checks to make sure the kids complete their assignments and understand their lessons.

We're also available to help. But what's more common is that we lead them to help themselves. i.e. "have you looked it up in a dictionary?" "Did you go back in the book and re-read the previous lessons?" "Did you read the instructions carefully?"

We follow a self-taught method partly out of necessity. Mommy and daddy both work.

Partly because we want our kids to become independent and self-reliant quickly.

And partly because we don't want to be the bottle-neck that slows down or holds back our children's learning and success.

Children Mature Faster Than We Realize ...

The real question is not "how to start homeschooling?" Rather, it is, "how do we stay out of our children's way and not slow them down?"

What would happen if the kids were completely dependent on mommy and daddy for their 'education' and then one day they want to learn how to scuba dive or fly a plane?

If they're in their late teens or early twenties when this happens, it's a little late to start learning how to rely on themselves to find the answers to their questions... answers that mommy and daddy (or even a classroom teacher) cannot provide.

Not that they couldn't learn how to do this as this age. It's just a little late and we've slowed down their progress for no good reason.

Following a self-taught method means they're learning how to learn from the get-go. They build self-confidence and competence early.

I recommend a self-taught method for your family (you have to decide if it's right for you and how to customize it for maximum benefit).

It Gets Easier as Your Child Gets Older...

This division of labor gets easier as your child gets older and becomes more capable.

In the beginning you will spend more time teaching your child the basics. Counting, counting by 2s, 5s, 10s, the ABC's, phonics, basic dictation, spelling, reading, etc.

You can find plenty of resources to help you through this stage of your child's education if you're nervous about it; like we were.

If your child is older and already has the basics - reading, writing, and math - then he's good to go. (By the way, older would be 7- or 8-years old. Younger if your child is more capable, older if he needs more time. But not really 'old'.)

The Magic Starts Before You Know It.

When we started to home school, our kids (ages 7 and 9) could read a little, and it was more than enough to learn on their own!

For example, by following the instructions in their math book, they taught themselves fractions, decimals, conversions, reducing fractions, word problems, etc. Mommy and daddy did not stand in front of the living room and lecture them on these topics eight hours a day.

Even though we expected this magical transfer of knowledge to happen, we were surprised, and in awe, that it did happen. ("What? They figured out how to reduce mixed numbers just by reading the book? Daddy had many teachers try to teach him, and he still couldn't do it.")

If you're worried about how to start homeschooling and whether or not you have what it takes to help your child successfully... Don't worry.

Learning is part of our natural instincts.

Provide a decent environment and good resources. Encourage your child to enjoy the process and do the best he can... Success will grow from there.

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