Homeschooling Basics

What support do you offer to independent homeschooling families?

For families using Oak Meadow’s curriculum independently, we offer our Homeschool Support Consultation service and Oak Meadow teacher tutoring services. Both are fee-based and available to independent users only.

  • Homeschool Support: Whether you are a new homeschooling parent with lots of questions, or a veteran with specific topics in mind, an experienced Oak Meadow teacher can provide you with student-centered educational guidance.  Topics might include organization, pacing, planning, teaching multiple grades, and more. Upon purchase, you will be asked to fill out the form, and an Oak Meadow teacher will contact you to discuss a plan of action. These conversations may be divided into 15 minute, half hour, or hour segments, and may be used over the course of the school year.  Purchase here.
  • Oak Meadow teacher tutors: We understand that our independent curriculum users may need extra support when teaching their children at home—especially with certain subject areas. Several of our teachers are available privately as tutors. Click here for more information.

What about socialization?

This is a very common concern we hear from families new to homeschooling, and it is a question homeschoolers hear from other people on a regular basis. Experience has shown that most children who homeschool spend plenty of time interacting with others. Since homeschoolers generally have more free time to be involved in community activities than children who attend “regular” school, there is no end to socialization opportunities.

Homeschooled children learn how to navigate and enjoy the company of peers, elders, younger children, parents, and grandparents while going to art and music classes, scout troop activities, volunteering, participating in sports, and playing with neighborhood kids. Most homeschooling families take advantage of the flexibility of homeschooling to include field trips and travel as well.

Many homeschooling families report that their children become better socialized than their school-going peers because they are not limited to peer-group interactions, which are not always healthy, but are surrounded by people who model positive ways to communicate, problem solve, and resolve conflicts.

Read more about socialization here.

Do I need a teacher manual?

Teacher manuals come with grades 4-8, and are available for purchase for non-enrolled high school families (if you are enrolled in high school, you should reach out to your Oak Meadow teacher for support).

Grades K-3: Teacher guides The Heart of Learning and the Oak Meadow Guide to Teaching in the Early Grades can be purchased in the K-3 Enrichment package or individually through our bookstore. For our enrolled students, the K-3 Enrichment package books are provided with the curriculum materials at no additional charge. You only need one copy; these books will be re-used in grades 1, 2 and 3.

The K-3 teacher guides provide inspiration and practical advice that many homeschooling parents are looking for. Although both books are optional, we highly recommend them for families using our K-3 curriculum. The Guide to Teaching in the Early Grades contains information on the learning process and teaching tips for art, music, storytelling, and handcrafts, as well as an extensive list of songs, verses, fingerplays, and poems.  The Heart of Learning provides ideas for setting up a learning environment and home routine that supports and nurtures the child’s natural rhythms, curiosity, and zest for learning. It explains the foundation of the Oak Meadow philosophy of education and is considered by many to be an invaluable resource.

How much time per day should homeschooling take?

This varies for each student and each family, and will change as the child gets older. In the early grades, the parent is completely involved in the learning process, but as the child moves through the grades, more and more work is done independently.

Grades K-3: roughly 3-4 hours per day

In first grade, you might begin the day with a 15 minute circle time followed by 45 minutes of reading and writing. In the afternoon, a one hour session is suggested: 45 minutes of either math or science and 15 minutes of reading. In the early grades, much of the learning time is spent actively engaged in hands-on projects, and you might expect another hour or so to be spent on projects, bringing the total up to three hours a day. As the student progresses, more time is spent doing more focused “desk work”: reading, writing, and researching.

Grades 4-8: roughly 4-6 hours

By the time students are in middle school, they should expect to work at least one hour per day, per subject. Of course, some students will need more time to do their work well, and others may be quicker in certain subjects. Every student is different but this gives you a general idea of what to expect.

High school: roughly 1 hour per course per day

Throughout all the grades, most students work best having a specific time of the day that is dedicated to doing school work, and a healthy mix of concentrated, focused book work and artistic, experiential projects. Including an element of physical activity during each school day is also vital to a healthy, happy student. We often find that students quickly discover a rhythm to their school day and week that works well for them.

How do I set up a learning environment at home?

There are many ways that families set up their homes to create a learning environment that encourages effective, enjoyable learning. One important aspect of Waldorf philosophy is to honor childhood by respecting each developmental stage and allowing your child the time and space to mature at his or her own pace. With this in mind, here are some suggestions that might be helpful:

SPACE: Some families create a school space by dedicating a room in their home that is just for school time, while others use the kitchen table. Some use a large chalkboard for lesson work or a seasonal drawing. Make sure to have all your supplies handy, and have your children keep things organized.

TOYS: Eliminating visual clutter from the child’s school space and play space can be quite calming. Rotating items for play eliminates having everything out at once and frees up space for creative uses. Some toys might be put away for many seasons and only brought out for a few weeks before they are put away again. Toys that are used year round (like blocks and dress-ups) can be neatly stowed each afternoon. Even very young children can get into the habit of helping to “put the toys to bed” when play is over for the day.

NOISE: Keeping noise to a minimum can also make a big difference. During school time, try to eliminate background noise like music, television, or computer. Transitions between activities can be made easy by singing a song–make up your own or find new ones in the library, online, or in our bookstore under K-8 Resource Books.

SCHEDULE: Daily schedules are different for every learner, and each family finds what works best for them. Most children benefit from a regular schedule and from knowing when they are “doing school” and when they have free time. Beginning and ending the school day with a regular verse or song can set a lovely tone and bring focus and intention to the work you do together.

Here are a few additional resources to consult in creating an effective learning environment:

I've received my books. Now what?

Receiving a box full of curriculum materials is exciting but can be a bit overwhelming if you are new to homeschooling. Look over each book to familiarize yourself with what you have, and give yourself a day or so to read through everything before you begin your schoolwork.

Read the introduction to the coursebook(s), scan any supplemental books, and get oriented to the amount of work presented in a single lesson (which is designed to be completed in one week). If you are using K-3 material, begin reading your teacher guides, The Heart of Learning and Guide to Teaching in the Early Grades, before you begin your school year. This way, you will feel more prepared to begin your homeschooling journey.

Most families find their stride after the first few weeks of adjusting to homeschooling. The Oak Meadow office staff is happy to answer any questions, so please feel free to contact us.