When I was a child I loved to play school. I was adamant about always being the teacher, and I was a strict one, indeed. My “students” (usually my nieces) were always bombarded with writing and math assignments, and I would gleefully grade their papers with a bright red pen, just like my teacher at school. (Watch my video here!)
If you know me at all, you know that I love new homeschoolers. I am all about encouraging them, guiding them, and giving them the confidence they need in this huge undertaking. Lately, however, I’ve had more than a few conversations with newbies that go something like this:
“You’re homeschooling now? That’s awesome! What made you decide to do it?”
“My son/daughter just wasn’t learning in school. No matter what they did, nothing. I just don’t think school was the right fit.”
“I think you made the right decision. So what have you been doing with them?”
“Oh, we’ve been following a similar schedule to what they had in school.”
“You know you don’t have to do that, right?”
“I know. It’s just that that’s what they’re used to.”
I ran into you today as I was dropping off our homeschool evaluations at the school district. As I walked in, the secretary looked at me with relief and said, “She homeschools!” Remember me?
First off, I want to say congratulations on making the decision to take the reins on your child’s education. Honestly, there’s no better time to pull your kids out of school than in this day and age we are in right now.
Before the secretary saw me come in, I heard her telling you to hire an out-of-district teacher to help you find curriculum. I wanted to jump in front of you and scream, “No! Don’t!” but I had to compose myself because, after all, we were in the school administration building. Frankly, I was relieved when she turned your attention to me and tried to enlist me to help you. While I did give you some very basic information, the name of my evaluator, and some helpful websites (including mine!), I was dying inside because I couldn’t help you the way I wanted to. Not there. Not while the school employee was standing there listening to us.
I can only hope that you’ll soon type in my web address and find this post here just for you because here is where I will have the freedom to say what needs to be said. It’s not that I don’t trust the school district. I do, but they are school employees and probably don’t understand what homeschooling is all about. So here is what I wanted to say to you then and there:
-Don’t ask people at the school district for help with homeschooling. They likely don’t know any more than you do, and in fact, may well know even less. As school employees, they have been trained in the methods used in the public school setting, which is fine, but homeschooling is nothing like school– at least, it shouldn’t be. It is for this reason that I would strongly recommend that you would not ask a school teacher for help with your curriculum. Don’t get me wrong. There are lots of teachers who homeschool, but the vast majority do not and don’t understand what it’s all about. If you need help, there are so many great homeschooling books and websites out there. Google is your friend. 🙂
–Don’t ask people at the school district about homeschool laws. Speaking from experience, they do not fully understand them, which is why it is so important that we as homeschooling parents do. Do your research. Visit the website I gave you that explains the law. Ask other homeschoolers. The problem is that if you don’t know the law and rely on the school district for information, they are likely to require more information than they legally should which will, in turn, cause problems for other homeschoolers. Our state laws were recently changed so that the only thing now required to give to the school district is our homeschool evaluation letter. That’s it. Yet, last year the district tried to get our standardized test scores, as well. Thankfully, I knew they were not entitled to them and told them so. Interestingly, I noticed that the paper they hand out still asks for test scores. I’m assuming that’s for homeschoolers who don’t know better. I truly think this is just another way for them to have control over us. If you know the law, this won’t happen.
–The first thing you asked me about was where to find curriculum. I’m here to tell you that that’s the last thing you should worry about. I wasn’t comfortable saying that in the school building because sometimes people fear what they don’t understand, and I didn’t want the employee jumping to conclusions. But honestly, just spend time with your kids. Watch how they do things. Look for what interests them. This is how you can choose your curriculum. You just may discover that your child will do better with library books than with textbooks. Remember, textbooks are not mandatory. They are simply a tool for learning that often aren’t a great fit for most kids.
–As the homeschool facilitator, it is up to you what your children will learn. Homeschoolers do not have to follow the school itinerary, although some choose to. You had expressed concern about knowing whether or not you were on track with what you would be teaching. If you are teaching something that you and your children find valuable, then you are on track. There are very few things specified about what we must cover (PA history, US history, fire safety, etc.) I don’t even go out of my way to address these issues because these are topics that come up in day to day living and don’t need any additional materials other than a newspaper, a discussion with you, or reminders about the dangers of fire. You certainly don’t need to waste your money on a curriculum for them, unless your child is so interested that it would be worth it. And even if they are, there are many free printables online on so many different things. You’d be amazed.
In closing, I just want to wish you the best on what can potentially be an awesome journey. Just keep reminding yourself that homeschooling is not school at home, and you’ll be on your way. Maybe someday we’ll run into each other again. Until then, enjoy the ride!