I know you’re probably getting tired of reading about how anxious I am for school to start, but I just can’t help myself because I just realized that this is the second last break-post I’ll be writing. After that we’ll be back on task again. I went to the library on Monday to get the books we’ll be needing for the next few weeks, and I honestly had to hold in excited laughter as I was putting the book list in my purse because I didn’t want my kids to think I was nuts. 🙂
“My concern is not to improve “education” but to do away with it, to end the ugly and antihuman business of people-shaping and let people shape themselves.”
– John Holt, Instead of Education
At first glance, the title of this post may seem redundant. If my children have never been in school, why would we need to transition into homeschooling? It may, indeed, seem a silly proposal, but hear me out…..
Children are natural learners. Just watch any child that is pre-school age, and you’re bound to see someone who is itching to find out as much as she can about the world and wants to do it independently and immediately. Your child has been learning since birth. Naturally. Spontaneously. Voluntarily. Continue reading “How to Joyfully Transition from Home to Homeschool”
If there is one area we Christians have not given enough time and attention to, it is that of the unseen realm. Spiritual warfare may seem like the stuff of Christian fiction novels to many of us, but Dr. David Jeremiah clearly demonstrates in The Spiritual Warfare Answer Bookthat not only is this aspect of our faith vitally important, but it is likely one of the most important responsibilities we as believers are held to today.
Does the prospect of homeschooling several children have you feeling a little nervous for the coming year? After seven years of homeschooling my extra-large family, I’ve finally found a plan that works for our family that keeps the kids happy and learning, and Mom calm and confident.
Today I’ll be over at my friend Jen’s blog, Practical by Default, where I’ll be discussing the 3 most important ways we’ve kept sanity in our homeschool. Additionally, I’ve given examples of what our daily homeschool routine actually looks like.
If you’re looking for advice on homeschooling your growing family, this is where to find it.
Well, here we are at the second-last post in this series. To be honest, I had so many reasons listed that I thought I’d be writing these until Christmas. 🙂 I can only pray that they have helped you to solidify your decision and have been an encouragement to you.
As I’ve stated in many previous posts, children learn best when they have an interest in what they are doing. While we can certainly take that statement to mean we should get their input on what subjects they will be taking, we can also take it one step further.
Kids who have time to learn about themselves and what they like often find that they have developed a consuming passion for one area or another. Whether it is trains, snakes, karate, or dance, in the right environment, children can take these ‘hobbies’ and turn them into so much more.
Does this mean that your budding ballerina will be the next Anna Pavlova? Maybe…maybe not. While there are a great many people who have pursued careers borne of childhood delights, there are just as many who have not.
Does this mean that the time invested in these pasttimes were a waste? Certainly not. In fact, the more time children are able to spend on those things they love, the more they will learn. These passions that your children have discovered are often the gateway to learning about oodles and oodles of other things.
I wrote in the past about my daughter’s obsession with anime and my son’s love for wildlife photography. These interests have led to so many amazing rabbit trails that, frankly, I would never have even thought of introducing them on my own.
Who would have thought that anime would lead to a determination to master not only the Japanese language, but also the Japanese writing characters?
Never in my wildest dreams did I believe that my son taking pictures at the creek would inspire him to become an authority on identifying the wildlife in our area.
Those two examples are just a tiny synopsis of the type of learning that occurred while my children were simply doing what they loved to do.
But what about children in school? Although they, like all children, will find hobbies that pique their interest, just how much time do they get to spend doing them?
Admittedly, when I was in school, I was still able to go to dance class 3-4 times a week and participate in a dance company, but times have changed. I graduated in the nineties- before the incessant after-school programs and the introduction of social media. Kids in ‘those days’ (boy, I feel old) were actually able to be kids in the after-school hours.
What we, as parents, need to think about is what will be the ultimate repercussions of this?
One consequence is pretty clear from the get-go…children who have no interests will usually end up settling for a job they’d rather not have but have been ‘bred’ to do.
Instead of this nation being filled to the brim with ardent artists, impassioned musicians, and inspiring entrepreneurs, we’ve raised a population of mediocre ‘factory employees’ who do what they have to do to pay their bills and put food on the table, but have no zest for life and certainly no incentive to ever try to better themselves because this is what school has taught them to do.
What would happen if we would give our children the time they need to pursue the dreams they so desire? In truth, the answer to that isn’t a given.
My kids spent the week at VBS, and I feel like I was the one running around all week. We just returned from the closing picnic, where I spent over 2 hours trying to keep track of 7 kids, and I am exhausted.
So, without further ado, let’s get on with this week’s links!
This has been one busy week for my preteens and youngsters. Since Monday, they’ve been attending an all-day VBS program at the neighborhood playground, sponsored by our church and a few others. My kids who have never set foot in school are getting a good idea of just how long a school day is. They start at 9:30 am with a sports program led by Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Push the Rock. They take a break at 12pm for lunch (provided by VBS) , and then resume with VBS activities from 12:30-3pm. My kids have attended now for several years; in fact, this program is how we ended up at our church in the first place. Every year my kids count down the days until it’s time for “Light in the Park.” It’s an amazing evangelism opportunity, as there aren’t a whole lot of Christian families in this neighborhood.
Unfortunately, my 3 and 5 yr. olds are still too young to attend, so they’ve been spending the week playing together, although they both really want to go with their older siblings!
This past Monday, I officially became a blog contributor at They Call Me Blessed. I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with such a great group of bloggers. I wrote about how our family manages homeschooling with ten learners. I really wrote it out in detail, so if you’re interested in how our days go, I definitely encourage you to check it out!
By now you’re probably wondering what our pleasant surprise is…no, I’m not pregnant. (I’m sure some of you may have been thinking that.)
On Tuesday I had to take two of my daughters for their physicals, and we had a new physician’s assistant. The fact that we homeschool eventually came up, and she asked me what curriculum we use. I started stammering because it’s just not that simple for us; our curriculum comes from about 50 different resources. When she saw I was getting flustered she said,
“I was asking because we’re in our second year of homeschooling, and I was interested in what curriculum a homeschool veteran uses. Did you think I was asking you to find out if your kids were learning everything they should be?”
I breathed a huge sigh of relief and said that yes, I did, and it wouldn’t have been the first time. She laughed, and we had a really pleasant conversation about homeschooling and curriculum. Before we left, I gave her the name of my evaluator and the web address for my blog. *Smile* It was a good day.
I know this is a really short post today, but since the older kids were at my mom’s most of the week, and most of my other kids were at VBS, we didn’t do a whole lot of interesting stuff. Such is life, right?
And because our week was so, well, boring, I’ve only got a couple of pictures for you today.
Please excuse the poor quality of these photos. My kids lost the battery to my camera a while back, and I never got around to replacing it, so I’m stuck using my cheap phone. I guess that’s what I get for letting the kids use my camera!
Tomorrow is the closing picnic for VBS. It’s always so nice. It’s more like a block party than a picnic. They give out free hot dogs, Italian ices, and drinks, and they have a bounce house and huge inflatable slides. It’s a lot of fun.
Oh, and one more thing…18 days until we start our homeschool again. Yay!
Whether you have decided to homeschool from the get-go or are removing your children from school, this decision is one of the biggest, most important resolutions you will ever make. The notion of being responsible for your child’s education can seem daunting and stressful, but so exciting.
Once the choice has been made, the first thing most new homeschoolers think is, “Where do I go from here?” The answer to that question may look different depending upon what your pre-homeschooling situation looks like.
Transitioning from School to Home
I want you to picture in your mind what a typical day of conventional school consists of. Children seated at their desks, raising their hands to answer questions or ask to use the restroom. Piles of worksheets being handed out to students for homework after listening to a 45 minute lecture based on a textbook lesson plan. The signal of the bell letting the students know that it is time to move on, regardless of how involved they were with that particular project.
Now, I want you to take that vision and throw it out the window. Learning does not have to look like that. In fact, if you are removing your child from the school system for academic reasons, chances are much learning hasn’t occurred at all.
Parents who decide early on that this is the route they want to take have an advantage over parents who have not only gone through the system themselves, but have also dealt with their own children taking this path. The setup and structure of the classroom becomes comfortable to most people- even sacred. They refuse to believe that learning can happen any other way, so doing something different and off the beaten path seems difficult to get a hold of.
If you are withdrawing your children from a school setting, the most important thing to do right now is to take a deep breath and tell your child that, for the time being, you’re just going to let them enjoy not being in school. You’re not going to pull out any textbooks or assign reports; they should just take this time to do what they’ve always wanted to but have never had time for. This is called deschooling.
Deschooling is best described as taking some time- whether it is a few days, weeks, or even months- to treat every day like a weekend. Typically, it is recommended to take one month for every year your child spent in school to simply get used to enjoying life without the stress of a schooling situation.
Granted, this may seem like an awful lot of time to be doing “nothing,” especially if your child has already spent a substantial period of time in school, but there are two very important things to remember:
1. Ultimately, the amount of time spent deschooling is at your discretion.
2. What looks like “nothing” to you is usually more than it appears to be.
The entire concept of deschooling is contrary to what most of us have been brought up to believe about education, but that is exactly why it is crucial for both the parents and the children to be given this time to reflect upon where they’ve been and where they’re going.
If taking several months off of anything that looks like academics to you makes you uncomfortable, then take that into consideration, but at least give it a try. It is so important to take that time to step back and watch your child. What is your child doing? What are her interests? Does she like to read? Do crafts? Write stories? What your child spends her time on during this period will give you clues as to how to best facilitate learning that will be meaningful to her.
The deschooling season is also a wonderful way to let yourself relax for a time, as you are treating every day like Saturday, and watch your child blossom as she’s given the opportunity to pursue her own interests. You just may quickly find that the definition of what constitutes learning may be changing before your very eyes.
As with homeschooling in general, this stage will likely look different for each child. Some children may spend a lot of time reading. Others may want to play outside all the time. Still others may occupy themselves with Legos, crafts, baking, or any number of other projects. Do not be a bit surprised if your child wants to sit and watch TV or be on the computer all day. Do not do what I and many other parents before me have done and assign certain activities as having more value than others. If your child is doing it, it has value to him. And again, these are going to be your clues as to how to best help your child once this period of deschooling is over.
Take this opportunity to spend some time reading some homeschooling books which discuss homeschooling methods, learning styles, and practical tips.
There is no formula for how to begin to formally homeschool once you feel the time has come to transition from deschooling. A phrase that will become redundant but still holds true is that no two families will do things exactly the same. Some families decide that they are happy with a more holistic approach to education, so there won’t be much of a difference between deschooling and homeschooling, if any difference at all. Other families will still feel more comfortable using a textbook approach, which many homeschooling families do successfully. No matter what path you’ve decided to take, however, there are some valuable strategies that will help you to make the smoothest transformation into a home learning atmosphere.
6 Things You Need to Know about Transitioningto Homeschooling
1. Begin slowly. There is no reason to jump right in with eight separate subjects. Take your time and introduce a couple at a time. This is a great way to get a feel for how your child is going to fare with your potential plan.
2. Remember when I said to push those thoughts of how conventional school looks out the window? Keep them there. If your child likes visiting the library, use that to your advantage. You will save loads of money on curriculum. Do they enjoy being outside? Nature is better than any science book. Let them be a part of your everyday life. Take them to the bank and the grocery store with you. Show them how to cook and do the laundry. Give them the opportunity to help with home and car repairs. These are all necessary things which are invaluable for children to be exposed to.
3. Let them have a say as to how and what they will be learning. As well as you may know your children, they know themselves that much more.
4. If things don’t go smoothly, relax. This is normal. Perhaps you jumped in too quickly. Perhaps your child’s learning style doesn’t fit with your chosen curriculum. Perhaps you just need to add some variety to your day. The great thing about homeschooling is that if things aren’t going well, you can drop everything and change it, if need be. You are not beholden to finish any curriculum in its entirety.
5. Have some sort of routine, but do not become a slave to it. Nothing is worse than getting stressed out because you started at 9:10, instead of 9:00 sharp. Don’t worry. There will be no bells ringing or tardy slips. You have all day to accomplish things (or to even choose not to).
6. If something comes up that gets in the way of what you had planned, let it go. I assure you that your children will learn whether they are doing what was written in your lesson book or whether they are accompanying you to the vet or someone’s home.
Keep in mind that these tips are beneficial for every homeschooling family, from those just beginning their journey to the most seasoned veterans. We all need to be reminded of these things from time to time.
Deciding to pull your children out of school can be a scary thing. All I ask is for you to remember this advice and apply it as best you can. Homeschooling is so rewarding and so valuable in this day and age, and your children sure are worth giving it a shot, aren’t they?
Since the relaxed, or eclectic, approach to homeschooling is the only remaining method we’ve tried, today’s post will conclude this series. As I stated in the first post, if you’ve had experience with any other methods such as Charlotte Mason, project-based, leadership education, etc., I would be happy to read a description in the comments, or you can even leave a link to a post that you have written!
“Whatever works” is the best way to describe this method of homeschooling. Those who identify as eclectic, or relaxed, learners often refer to their daily routines as a mish mosh of all of the other homeschooling methods. Instead of finding one learning system and staying within the confines of what is considered “procedure” for that particular method, eclectic homeschoolers pull together a routine that will work best for each individual child.
Many relaxed homeschoolers stick to the three R’s and use some sort of curriculum for reading, writing, and arithmetic, and then go on to utilize a more unschoolish outlook on the remaining subjects in order to allow their children more time to explore their own interests.
Others may offer a little more guidance in all of the subjects in various ways but will usually remain open to dropping the day’s plans in order to pursue any alternative opportunity that arises.
As with unit studies and unschooling, sometimes an example of a typical day using the eclectic learning method will paint a clearer picture of what it’s all about, so here is a brief description of my high school age son’s current daily routine:
Language Arts– completing vocabulary worksheets three times a week, Greek mythology vocabulary once a week, chatting with fellow online gamers, reading literature selections either of his choosing or assigned by me, practicing diligence in answering all assigned mythology questions in complete sentences
Math– two pages per day of a math curriculum (I will usually assign only half the problems or skip the lesson completely if he already knows how to do it), a myriad of mathematical concepts are covered in the online games he enjoys, managing his own money and making any decisions on future purchases
Social Studies– historical fiction movies (especially military history), historical documentaries, discussion of current events, spending lots of time in the community with people of all ages and ethnicities
Science– spending lots of time in the outdoors observing wildlife and researching anything he discovers but doesn’t recognize, reading astronomy books from the library, astronomy documentaries, researching different types of reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids and going to a nearby creek to look for them
Greek Mythology– completing a curriculum centered around a popular mythology book
Technology– creating, editing, and uploading his own videos to YouTube
As you can see, relaxed learning can include everything from textbooks (used very loosely) to following interests in order to learn in a way that suits the child and will remain with him for a long time to come.
– Children learn best with activities that fit within their learning styles. Sometimes different techniques will work better for different subjects. Relaxed homeschooling allows for the flexibility needed in order to obtain a successful educational plan for each child.
– By being given large amounts of time to pursue their own interests, children will often become immersed in their favorite pasttimes and will soon become “experts” in these areas which can potentially lead to future career opportunities.
– Eclectic homeschooling can give just the right amount of structure needed to keep the day from being chaotic.
– As with unit studies, the activities which are assigned on any given day will often provide a springboard for the child to develop new interests they otherwise would not have been aware of.
– This method would be a good substitute for those who are drawn to unschooling but are uncomfortable with the uncertainty and lack of structure.
– Depending on what learning methods are used, it may be difficult to come up with work samples for portfolios in those states in which it is required to do so. Don’t give up too easily, though. There are many homeschool evaluators who recognize that learning does not necessarily come from worksheets and will accept just a few work samples.
– Sometimes it may be difficult to rid yourself of the schoolish mindset, and it can be all too easy of falling into the trap of believing that learning cannot happen without filling out worksheets, taking tests, and using textbooks for all subjects. The best remedy for this is to think back to your school days and ponder how much you actually remember from what you learned. I’ll venture a guess that it’s not very much.
– This method may be difficult for families with multiple young children. Some children are perfectly fine with only a little bit of structure, but some families with younger children may need a little more order that can be accomplished with activities from interest-based unit studies.
So there you have it! This is everything my experience with these homeschooling approaches has brought to light. When choosing which method fits you best, please keep in mind that even if you prefer a certain method, you will not have the “homeschool police” knocking at your door if you do things just a little differently. After all, it is the flexibility that comes along with homeschooling that makes it so much more successful than traditional school.
I would love to hear which method you’ve chosen for your family. Leave a comment, and tell me what your plans are. I love to hear from you!
Happy Monday, everyone! This is just a quick post to let you know that I am officially a guest contributor on They Call Me Blessed! I’m so excited to be working with so many talented bloggers on the 30 Ways We Homeschool Blog Party. Today I’m inviting you to stop on over and read about our family’s homeschool routine, including how we do it, where, when, and what we’ve chosen for the upcoming year’s curriculum. While you’re there, think about looking back through the other posts in this series. It’s always so amazing to see the many faces of homeschool!