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Why You Should Follow Your Kids' Lead When Homeschooling

The Greatest Tip I Got From My Homeschooling Friends: Follow Your Kids' Lead

Shot of young man helping his daughter with her homework while her mother cooks in the background

I've been reluctantly trying to homeschool my kids (a kindergartner and second grader) for the past week or so. As a college composition instructor, I'm used to the idea of helping my elementary-aged kids with their academics, but am definitely not accustomed to being their full-time teacher. I knew that I had to put my best foot forward, create a schedule, and seek the help and resources from others. Luckily, I have a few friends who are real homeschoolers, so I sought their help immediately. They told me that the best thing I can do when trying to homeschool is to follow my kids' lead.

So, I gave it a shot. One day I started an art-slash-science activity where my kids were to create a robin's nest while I taught them about how robins build their nests and lay their eggs. My kids loved learning that they only lay one egg per day — because laying eggs is a lot of work! My son took it upon himself to add one egg per day to his own robin's nest, just like real robins do. Then, my kids ran with it — and I followed.

Next, my kids wanted to build a giant tree to place their nests in. So, the following day we started learning about the different parts of a tree. After doing that, my son shouted, "I know! Let's create roots and learn about those!" So, we did. But it's important to note something: on day three my daughter, the kindergartner, was over crafting with the tree. "I don't want to make the roots!" she said. "I want to make pinecone tacos!" So, I let her. As her homeschool teacher, and mom, I was not going to push it. She sat there happily painting her pinecones and turning them into tacos.

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But the next day, she jumped right back in to the tree lesson. Together, the kids and I ran into the yard to gather up some leaves. We painted them and decided to stamp our tree with them. While the kids painted, I taught them about the purpose of leaves, why they fall, how they grow back in the spring, and more. That lesson my daughter was into.

From here, we'll head into nature for a walk and learn about different kinds of trees, write in a tree journal, and more — all because my kids showed interest. However, if they ever feel like taking a break from trees or decide to take a U-turn and learn about something else related (or not), I'll go with it. I'm learning that by letting my kids lead in their education, it makes my job a heck of a lot easier, too.

Over our time at home, we'll spend time on reading, writing, and maths, too — because I know those subjects are also important. But letting them guide me in learning about something that actually interests them has made being their teacher much more fun, and kept them more engaged in lessons.

Hopefully, this tidbit can give you the same hope and guidance it gave me. If you're feeling overwhelmed with this whole homeschooling thing or haven't really started it yet, remember: That's okay! Focus on loving your family first, because right now, that's the most important thing.

Image Source: Getty / shapecharge
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