When I first decided to homeschool, I started the research process. When you go online and Google homeschool, there is so much to read and study. There is just a wealth of information. I spent hours (probably more like days or months) reading everything I could get my hands on. I went to the library and read every book on homeschooling there was. I then started finding all of the amazing websites and blogs available. I signed up to get catalogs and e-mails from all of the different homeschool companies. I started downloading every single free things I came across because I might need it, who knows?! I joined all of the online groups I could find about homeschooling. I did all I could to become more acquainted with what I was getting myself into. It is great to do this, but you have to be careful not to get sucked into information overload. I have slowly been able to get past this, but I have seen many new homeschool parents fall into this same trap. Today I have a few tips to share with you to help you overcome HOMESCHOOL INFORMATION OVERLOAD.
I am very grateful that there is so much free information available for homeschoolers. It has really blessed me and helped me along the way. There are so many resources for free online that you could basically homeschool for free if needed. However, there comes a point when you need to just take a step back and realize that you don’t need to have and read everything that every was made or written about homeschoolers. You don’t have to have every free e-book or lesson plan that you can get, because there is no possible way you will be able to use it all! I started downloading all the free things I could get my hands on. Many (most) of those things are still sitting in files on my computer- yet to be used or read. Much of it is wonderful and helpful. Don’t feel like you have to have it all, though.
Curriculum Reviews and Research
There are many websites that have curriculum reviews and ideas. SO many of them are wonderful in helping me choose what to use for my family. I usually read through many reviews before making my decisions. They are also great to help me discover new products and resources to use in our homeschool. I love seeking the advice of fellow homeschoolers who have tried it out.
One HUGE piece of advice though: once you have made your choice and bought your curriculum, sit back and relax. Don’t keep reading. Don’t keep stressing about whether that math curriculum will be better because so-and-so said they love it. You know your child and your budget. Stick with what you feel is right for your family. If it doesn’t work well, then you can allow yourself to research again. This was a lesson I had to learn my first year. Even after I purchased my curriculum, I kept searching and studying until my mind was numb. I worried endlessly that I didn’t pick the “right” one. Relax, your child will still learn.
Books and Supplies
You do not have to own every book and learning tool that is available!!! I still kind of think that I need to own every good book and every math manipulative and every art/craft supply that was ever made to be a good homeschooler. This is not true. I have become a bit of a collector since homeschooling. “That book will be great when we study marsupials!” I say to myself as I peruse the used book section at the local thrift store. So, I buy it and put it on the shelf. Books are wonderful, amazing, interesting, exciting things. I love them more than I love many things in this life, but there are other options (still trying to convince myself of this one!). Go to the library! Borrow books from friends or family.
As for learning games, manipulatives and resources- so many can be made at home for very little money. There are so many ways to make learning hands-on with just the basic supplies you have in your home already. Bottle caps, small toys, and beans make great counting tools to use for math. Make homemade letter tiles, use pieces from old games, or use magnetic alphabet letters. You can really make do with very little!
Arts, Crafts, & Projects
You do not have to do big amazing projects with every unit of study. You may think that you do if you read a lot of blogs. Your homeschool day will not always be picture perfect, and that is very normal. Just do what you are able. It will be vastly different for each and every family. Sometimes you might just drop all of the book work and take learning outside. That is a wonderful thing to do! Sometimes you will only have the energy to read together on the couch- that is great, too. Make it work for your needs and your family.
How do you keep yourself from being overloaded by all of the information available?
Karyn is a homeschooling mom of three kids. She blogs at Teach Beside Me. She loves books, good food, nature and music. She loves to learn and play right along with her kids.