Back To School Tips

Back To School Tips by Homeschool Veteran, Felice Gerwitz ~ Episode 474

It is that time, and with the coming of the school calendar, it is time for some really great back-to-school tips by our podcast network founder, Felice Gerwitz. She homeschooled for thirty-one years and in that time learned what worked and what did not work. In this episode, she drills down to the basics that will help your homeschool journey.

Visit my website at for curriculum, novels and so much more for your homeschool needs.

Are we excited or dreading the new school year? Yes, it is okay to be nervous but please let me assure you that you will not ruin your children. If you have a heart for spending time with your children and you can openly communicate your needs to them and they can talk honestly to you, all will be fine.

Whenever I’ve listened to a podcast or a talk on the topic of homeschooling I walked away feeling that I would never be able to “do that” or be “that creative,” or accomplish anywhere near the amazing mom speaking. One time I went to a homeschool conference and listened to a mom who talked about teaching American History and then proceeded to parade her children out on the stage in matching period costumes. My mom was an amazing seamstress and I can not sew. Can you imagine how I felt after I left that talk? Years later, when I joined the homeschool speaking circuit and spoke at conferences I met this lady and got to know her well. She is not a super mom but she loves to sew. For her, this was a fun project and for me, it would have been overwhelming. She had her children help with the sewing and taught them more than one thing at a time.

Saying this brings me to one of the most important points I hope you learn today. Work within your abilities and your wheelhouse. What are some talents that you bring to the table? Are you good at art? Is music your thing? Are you a sports advocate? Do you like history, math, or science? What is it that you enjoy doing or teaching? Taking this into consideration what can you easily implement into your homeschool? For the mom who loved sewing, it was teaching her kids to sew and make historical costumes.

Back to School Tips – Do. Not. Do.

  1. Duplicate the public/private school in the home.
  2. Set yourself up for failure by overplanning.
  3. Teach over your child’s attention span.
  4. Talk too much. Lecture only.
  5. Not allow your children to participate in discussions.
  6. Failure to ask enough questions.
  7. Unsupervised learning, no checks, and balances.
  8. Failing to schedule time off.
  9. Lack of field trips.
  10.  No extracurricular activities.

Look over this list and add to it – and the reverse is as follows:

Back to School Tips:

  1. Use textbooks, but as a starting point and/or a supplement. Map out the chapters to complete during the school year and count in time off.
  2. Set a realistic schedule within the timeframe of the school year including the time that school starts and ends.
  3. Teach younger children in bite-sized portions, for example, teach math with manipulatives and spend the time necessary to master skills rather than sporadically cover them.
  4. Keep lectures at a minimum. Answer questions and go from there.
  5. Allow your children to participate in discussions.
  6. Be sure to ask questions, if they can not answer them give them time to research.
  7. Be sure the children are getting assignments completed by checking the work or having them check each other’s work with supervision. If your kids know you are not going to check math assignments or writing projects they may slack off.
  8. Schedule time off and let the children know, put this on a calendar they can access or give them one of their own to maintain.
  9. Plan field trips.
  10. Plan extracurricular activities.

Nightmare Story

I heard a mom share that her well-behaved high school student did not get the majority of his school work finished because he knew she would not check it and when she finally did, she was appalled. So much so, that it delayed his entrance into college by one year. It was a combination of the perfect storm as she had little ones that took the majority of her time and elderly parents that were ill. In order to avoid these types of issues having the child show you the work, every few days is an advantage.

More on the recording.

Check Your Communication

Open communication and checking in with our children no matter what the age is beneficial. Will every child like every book? No, but we have to be willing to find another solution in case something doesn’t work out. In other words, don’t be married to a particular book or curriculum.

One year at a conference the parents were looking for a flexible science curriculum for their multi-aged children and came by my booth. My curriculum is a hands-on Creation Science-based series. There are four books, Creation Science, Creation Astronomy, Creation Geology, and Creation Anatomy.

The parents were both science majors and had high expectations for their homeschool but realized with three children under sixth grade and a baby the options were limited to textbooks for three different grade levels. The parents returned to my booth near the end of the conference and purchased all four study guides plus the activity packs. They reported the next year that the science lessons went extremely well and gave the children a chance to study additional topics.

Adding in field trips was a fun addition. Unit studies do not work for every family but they are beneficial when you are homeschooling various aged children on different grade levels.

Remember at the start of this broadcast I asked you at the beginning of this broadcast what you bring to the table. Your gifts and talents are not wasted in any homeschool setting. Another blessing is to ask other homeschool parents what their skill set contains. One year we needed a degreed scientist to sign off on the county-level science fair entries.

We had registered nurses, two doctors, and one dad with two degrees in science and a science master’s degree. Within our small community of homeschool parents, we were set! We also had built-in judges for our homeschool science fair.

We’ve had plays, art fairs, history and science fairs, sporting events, field days, beach science trips, nature center field trips and so much more within our years of homeschooling. By pooling your resources you will be amazed at all you accomplish.

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VHM-474-TipsforBacktoSchool.mp3 (21:46, 10.0MB)