I have made a lot of mistakes as a homeschool mom. A lot. And while I now neither claim to be perfect at this job or have everything figured out, there is one thing I can assure you I am 100% confident of:
Out of all the traps you can fall into as a new homeschooler, there is one that stands out above all the rest as potentially the most destructive and the most joy-draining mistake you can make.
Before I get into what that is, don’t lose heart if you discover you’ve been doing this all along. I think most of us are guilty of having done this to some extent in our homeschools- I know I have.
As difficult as it may be to make the decision to homeschool, knowing how to get started can seem even more impossible. Although homeschooling is more mainstream now than it’s ever been, with approximately 2.5 million homeschooled children in the U.S. alone, finding information about it that is accurate isn’t always a simple thing.
Since I’ve recently had so many people comment that they’re interested in homeschooling but don’t know where to start, I’ve decided to write a basic plan for how to do just that. Right now I have a book in the works that is a more comprehensive guide to this subject (still in the early stages of planning), but since I don’t have all night to write, and you probably don’t have all day to read, I’m going to keep this as bare-bones as possible, giving you only the essentials to at least help you get your homeschool happening. 🙂 Continue reading “How to Get Started Homeschooling TODAY!”
I can’t believe it’s July 4th weekend already. It seems like only yesterday I was thanking my lucky stars that winter was over!
I’m so excited right now because I just came back from shopping for our school supplies. 🙂 The only thing we need are the copy paper and ink we ordered off of eBay. Once those come in, we’re ready to go!
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?
It’s not even officially summer yet, and I’m already dying to start our homeschooling term back up again. I miss it so much, and I’m so excited to begin our new year! My children, however, are enjoying their time off, so I’ll have to press on until we do start up again next month. Now on to this week’s links!
Deciding to homeschool for the first time can be a scary thing. Whether you’ve decided before your children have ever set foot in a school or have resolved to pull your children from their current schools, the world of home education can seem like an intimidating and confusing situation to find yourself in. In the past year, I’ve had quite a few frazzled mothers ask me the question, “How do I homeschool?”
That question in itself can be answered in so many different ways because there are so many different ways to homeschool, so I’ve narrowed it down to, “What should I do as a new homeschooler?”
That question is a bit simpler and a bit more relevant for those new to the journey. Let me start to answer this query by telling you what not to do.
If I was only given the opportunity to tell you one thing about homeschooling, it would be this: Do not plunge head-first into a school-at-home routine from the very beginning. Just don’t do it. Seriously. I promise you, it will bring you more heartache than joy.
Let me emphasize that I said, “…from the very beginning.” After finding out more about how your children like to learn, you may well decide that this is the best method for you. But I implore you, please do not do it by default using the reasoning that “this is how it’s done in government schools.” Think about it. Why would you try to reproduce something that isn’t working?
The second thing I would tell you not to do is to run out and spend a ton of money on curriculum. If you are new to this, you probably aren’t familiar with how your children prefer to approach things. Watch them. Observe them. Interact with them. Once you’ve spent some time intentionally paying attention to the way in which your kids do things, you will have a much better idea of what will benefit them the most.
So what should you do? Live a full life with them. Go to the library often. Enjoy the park, the bike trail, and the creek down the street. Read to them. Take them with you on your errands and explain to them what you’re doing and why. Bake cookies for the elderly neighbor or the librarians who, more than likely, will soon become indispensible to you.
Keep your eyes open for resources that sometimes seemingly fall into your lap. When we first began homeschooling, I used everything from pamphlets from the electric company (science and safety) to newspapers (current events) to keep my children engaged until we had a more concrete plan in place.
Find out what they’re interested in and provide opportunities for your children to pursue them. If they like to cook, cook with them. If they’re natural artists, buy some good quality art supplies and/or look into a local art class. (The art school that my children attended actually have a class specifically for homeschoolers.) If reptiles are their thing, visit a reptile house or check out one of many awesome documentaries on Netflix or YouTube. Use your imagination to come up with ways to support your children’s hobbies. With the internet and the library as resources, you can literally find information on anything.
And while you’re accomplishing all of this for your kids, spend some time reading about and researching learning styles, and homeschool approaches and philosophies. Check the end of this post for a list of great resources I’ve used.
-a library card (this is free, but it’s a must-have)
-and, if it really bothers you that your kids aren’t doing “schoolwork,” some spelling/phonics and math workbooks at Barnes and Noble (make sure you apply for the educator’s discount!), Five Below, or, depending on the ages of your kids, Dollar Tree.
Some people begin their homeschool journey doing activities like these and find that it is enough for them and continue to do so. Others, over time, may transition towards other types of learning methods that appeal to them and are very successful with them.
What’s most important is to ease into this lifestyle. Homeschooling can be a rewarding and exhilarating way of life, so remember to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.