So your interest is peaked about homeschool. Great! Let me help you by sharing resources that I accumulated over these past three years as well as my thoughts.
Most important tool when homeschooling
PATIENCE! Hang it up right now if you have a short fuse because literally, it wouldn’t be good for you or your child. I’m not saying you have to be the perfect, never raise your voice type parent, but you have to have patience in order to be effective. I’ve had plenty of parents who seemingly admire what we do, ask tons of questions, and then end the conversation with, “girl, I can’t deal with my kids for that long.” And if you can’t, cool, because it is good to be honest. I find myself growing in patience more and more each year as I try to unlearn the “hard ass” approach. Try practicing over the summer with your kid, and see how you get through an hour with them, in a subject where they need extra help. Don’t worry if it is a complete disaster, just keep trying. If there is no improvement on either side, then time to explore outside help, which plenty of other homeschool parents do, via co-ops.
Look up your state’s requirements for homeschooling. Homeschooling is allowed in all 50 states, but requirements can drastically vary from just a simple notice of intent to homeschool, to some all out evaluation. Check out https://www.hslda.org/laws/default.asp
Decide if you will be the primary instructor, or if you will do an online instructor led program, a local co-op, or a group of other homeschooling parents who share in the duties. For example, last year for Joshua’s third grade year, I was the primary instructor, but on Mondays and Fridays, he went to co-op classes led by other instructors. On Mondays, he went to an all boy, homeschool parent led, writing club all day long, for free! On Fridays, he went to a local co-op where he took drumming and capoeira. He also was able to take swim classes for homeschoolers at the local Y.M.C.A. It was a fun year for him, but it literally wore me out, dealing with D.C. traffic those two days a week.
One of the best things about homeschooling, is that you will find tons of other homeschoolers who literally help each other out. It is the real definition of community and you will find different sects such as un-schoolers, religious based, and etc. Start searching for your state laws and local homeschoolers in your state today!
Let’s get this addressed as this the first thing you get asked when mentioning homeschool. The history teacher in me wants to write fifteen posts on this subject alone. Historically, compulsory schooling is still a new way of life. All of the people that are celebrated in world and U.S. history were homeschooled. Former U.S. Presidents were homeschooled. When you are homeschooled, you are interacting with all of society. No where in the world do you get divided up into groups by age and spend hours with the same people for years. My biggest concern for this traditional model is what do you do when some kids are more accelerated than others, or if some need more time to understand concepts. Teachers usually teach in the middle and that is great, for those in the middle. Education is not a one size fit all. My son never goes into public and only interact with his age. He is comfortable interacting with all ages. Exploring the reasons for why compulsory schooling exists, will most likely light a fire within you to start homeschooling, but we will save that for future posts.
In short, do a quick Google search on socialization and be prepared to have a paradigm shift.
This subject alone can take a few posts on its on, but in short, you literally design the curriculum yourself, which can be daunting for most and a relief for others. For example, you could have a fourth grader who you believe is behind in reading, on grade level for spelling, and above average for math. Well, you literally get to cater to you child’s needs by teaching them a grade level lower for reading, grade level for spelling, and whatever level they are on for math. You can go to a local educator, teacher supply store, and find tons of workbooks by grades and other resources. I buy workbooks every year for Joshua, for his grade level. It takes me about an hour or two as there are a quite a bit choices to go with. There are tons of websites too, that just plainly tell you what you need to teach them for that school year, tons of books, and again, online schools take care of that part too.
Can you teach?
There will be plenty of days where your kid is looking at you, seeing you struggle to teach them. I am comfortable with Joshua seeing me now understand something as I show him every time, that I might not know it, but I won’t give up either or understanding it. You will find this journey to be frustrating some days and out right hilarious others. Josh and I both share a hate for fractions and a love for “light days.” No one loves a field trip or play day more than me. I found for Josh, that he does not need the typical traditional school schedule of 9 AM- 4 PM to be on grade level. He gives me his attention most of the times and knows that as soon as he gets his work done, and done well, that he gets to design his day. So if he wants to keep taking swim classes, have a play day, go to the park, play his video games, then he knows to get it done.
You can do this! You are an adult. You will find that while teaching them, you are going to grow in intelligence too, as you are learning with them. I am learning everything that I wish I learned in school at his age and it is one of the best feelings in the world to not have to ask them how was there day, as you already shared the day with them. Every homeschool parent will tell you what subjects they hate and what struggles they endure. My kid can be a jerk some days and just not feel like doing the work. Majority of the time, he knows he has to do it, no matter how many hours it takes. And if you see both you and the kid are suffering from burnout or frustration, TAKE A BREAK! Go to the park, get some ice cream, play a game, then come back to it that day or next day.
I have met some homeschoolers who keep the same hours as traditional schools…. Well I have established long ago, that I AIN’T them. I will give Joshua a few good hours of my time before I end up blowing my lid and we are done. A schedule within reason, will add some type of sanity to your day. You could stick to a schedule, knowing that you have the freedom to alter it. Some parents, like this one, likes to be done by lunch, so we can do whatever else might interest him with the rest of the day. I found out that my son loves to help me cook, loves to learn circuits, makes stop motion movies, play with legos, conduct experiments, work on his business ideas, help me with my businesses, and etc. He probably would not have done these things in regular school as getting home by 4:30, eating dinner, trying to play for a little bit, taking a bath, and being in bed by a decent time, would have robbed him of that extra time he gets with homeschool.
You can do this!
Again, test it out this summer or on weekends. If traditional school isn’t working for your family, it is time to explore other options and possibilities. Starting out rocky, does not mean you shouldn’t pursue this. Their childhood goes by so fast, so it is up to us to fight for them to grow into things we could have never imagined. At the end, you will find that that time shared, is not only benefitting them, but you as well.