Easy Peasy Homeschool Hacks

With so many people choosing alternative methods for their children's education this year, I thought I would share my tips and tricks on how we're simplifying homeschool in our home, how to make homeschooling easy on you and your family, and what some of my favorite inexpensive and easy homeschool curriculums are. There are a ton of free homeschool curriculums out there, but I'll be sharing which ones are my go-to favorites. 

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Easy Peasy Homeschool Mindset:

I'm more than happy to admit that I'm a bit of a lazy parent. I chose to homeschool Kyle this year because I did not want to deal with 1,000 zoom calls and a million different programs. I see a lot of first time homeschooling moms online right now sharing all the things they're trying to implement this year and it honestly makes me hot and sweaty just watching them talk about it all. 

If this is your first year homeschooling my number one tip is to stick with the basics and what absolutely needs to be taught. In our home we're doing math, science, language arts, history, and handwriting. End of story. Do your children absolutely need to be homeschooled in Spanish, typing, art history, music, and every other subject? My opinion is no. If your child likes those things and they are fun and interesting, sure add them in, but if you're adding them in because you're trying to fill a seven hour school day at home and you think you need to do those things? That seems like and easy recipe for burnout in my book. 

Stick to what needs to be done, and build from there. Don't go out guns blazing just to find out that it's not sustainable a month into the year. 

Homeschool Isn't Meant To Replicate Public School:

There is a reason why you chose to not send your child to public school this year, so don't try to make your home into a public school. Homeschool absolutely does not need to fill an entire school day. Kyle starts his schoolwork in the morning around 9am, and we're done for the day well before lunchtime. He gets a math and a language arts lesson taught by Derek or I, and then he does science, history, and handwriting independently. I would say most days it takes us 2 1/2 hours to get through all the work for the day, and when I talk to other homeschool families they all say they're around a similar timeframe, possibly even shorter. 

You Don't Need to Teach to the Public School Standards:

In Utah homeschool is super flexible. We sign one legal document saying we're homeschooling and the state doesn't want any proof of hours or what we're teaching. My main reason for homeschooling this year was because I was sick of jumping through the public school system's hoops, and wanted to do my own thing. I know roughly that Kyle needs to learn multiplication and division this year, but other than that I'm doing my own thing and teaching what I want to be teaching for all the other subjects. If Kyle goes back into the public school system next year and didn't learn exactly what he should have for science and history but still got an enriching year out of it? I'll be happy. We're taking this year to learn and teach what we want to be learning about, and not letting standards or any outside influences impact our decisions.

The Best Free Homeschool Curriculums:

There are a lot of free and amazing resources for homeschool curriculum. The main curriculum we use is The Good and The Beautiful. While a lot of their curriculum is available for purchase, their entire language arts program for every grade is available for free as a PDF download (scroll down on that link and you'll see orange cricles you can click on to download for the grade you need). Their language arts is all encompassing with reading, writing, spelling, poetry memorization, and so much more. We're only a few weeks in but so far we've seen geography, history, and biblical studies all intertwined within the language arts curriculum. It's really well done, and we have no regrets so far. We downloaded the PDFs for free and then had them printed in black and white and spiral bound at our local Fedex. 

Another amazing resource for free homeschool curriculum is Miniature Masterminds. They have everything you would ever need to teach grades pk-2 available to print and download for absolutely free. Kyle is technically in third grade this year but we're using their US History and Health curriculums to fulfill Kyle's history and science for this year. They also have an entire cursive writing curriculum that we worked through over the summer.  

Their website is pretty well divided by grade level, so you can click on the grade you need, and then see all their subjects and full year curriculums listed from there. 

You Set The Pace for Your Child's Learning, Not A Book or Lesson Outline:

Just because a math book is divided into 180 preplanned lessons does not mean you absolutely need to do that entire lesson all in one day. If your child is struggling on a topic it's going to be a lot easier to break it down over several days than to plow through tears and frustration just because a book you're using said you need to get this entire lesson done today.

We noticed at one point that Kyle was struggling with learning to tell time on a clock. Instead of plowing through to the next lesson, or feeling like we had to keep digging and digging at the concept in one day until he got it right we just stopped mid lesson. We then went online and printed some more worksheets and resources that would help him learn the concept, and spent several days on it until he mastered it, and then moved onto the next lesson in the book. Let your child be the judge of how fast or slow you progress through your lessons, but don't let the books dictate what you should be doing. Be flexible, know when your child is at their limit, and stay focused on a topic until they're ready to move on. 

The Best Printer for Homeschooling:

With all of your free curriculum you're going to need a good printer to print it off. We purchased this Epsom Ecotank printer at the beginning of quarantine and it's been an amazing tool for us. For $200 you get the printer and enough ink to print 4,500 color pages and 7,000 black and white pages. It was well worth the investment and we made our money back in what we would have spent in ink cartridges in just a few months. Replacement ink when needed is also very inexpensive when you do get to the point of replacing. 

If you don't want to pay for printing at FedEx this is an awesome option. You can print at home, hole punch, and put in a binder to make them into organized books for your child. 

Outsource What You Can't/Don't Want to Teach:

If there is a subject that you know is just beyond your scope or mental/physical capacity, outsource to a tutor or online class through Out School. Outschool has a ton of classes you can sign your child up for in basically every subject you can imagine, taught by teachers. Having someone else teach your child multiplication, division, US History, Music Theory, Minecraft, sharks, baking etc... can help take a load off of your plate, and give your child a fun experience outside of working one-on-one with you each day.

If you want to try Outschool you can get $20 off your first class through my referral link.  

The cool thing about Outschool is that you can do a class that is once a week for 8 weeks, or even find teachers who are teaching all of third grade where they meet three times a week for the entire school year. There is literally something for everyone and it can be from anything as regimented as math all the way to something fun like baking. 

These are my best tips for making homeschool an easy experience for both my husband and I, and our son. While It's definitely something to be taken seriously, it doesn't need to be taken too seriously. If your child is in a loving environment and is being taught what they need to know, they're going to do great. Don't get caught up in all the things that people say you should be doing, or that you see online, and as always, do what works best for your home and family. 

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