Monday, October 19, 2015

So You Have Decided to Homeschool - Now What?

Photo copyrighted by Patridge Photography

I remember how scary taking the leap to homeschool was.  I felt like I was taking a step into an unknown world.  I can't even count how many times I got down on my knees and asked "Heavenly Father, are you really sure this is the path I should take? Maybe you could direct me toward something that isn't so scary."

I pushed my fears aside and took a leap of faith into a whole new world - home education.  The only thing I knew about homeschooled kids was they can be weird and they don't socialize. Okay, public school children can be weird as well.  I had a very narrow idea of homeschooling as I really didn't know anything at all about it.

I'm proud to say my ideas of educating at home have widened a great deal.  I now realize kids every where can have their awkward moments, no matter how they are schooled and we all have a little bit of weirdness in us.

You've all heard "homeschool kids don't socialize." Raise your hands, how many of you have heard that line?   First off, is it really the best form of socialization to sit in a class with 20-30 children all the same age, learning the same thing?  While in public school, my first grader was subjected to a conversation between peers about how to rape someone.  How's that for socialization?  Having my children learn at home, I can set up events to socialize. I know who their friends are and what they are doing.

You have made the leap, now what?

Step 1
What are your state laws?  Does your state require you to turn in reports or take state tests?  What are the laws concerning state standardized testing? Utah recently passed a law that parents can legally opt children out of Common Core state tests. If your state allows that, please do not subject your children to standardized testing.

How do you opt your children out of public school? Some states like Idaho do not require a written consent to the district, reports or any other written information on your homeschool.  

Utah requires an affidavit for each child but they do not require any state testing. 

To find out what your state requires visit: Hslda

Step 2
Find a mentor, a cheerleader, or a friend. There will be hard days when you need  support or advice from a friend. I was lucky enough to have 2 homeschool families living on my same street.  I contacted them often and asked them questions about their homeschool and what resources they find helpful. 

Join an online group such as a local homeschool Facebook or Yahoo group.  Online is a great place to meet people in your area and a place to ask questions.  On of my favorite online groups is TJED Discussion Group, I have also joined my local Facebook group. 

Go to a local homeschool event and meet some of the homeschool moms and look for friends for your kids and for you. Your family needs to know there are lots of homeschool families around.  I would suggest joining a group that meets no more than once a week.  You don't want to overwhelm yourself with driving to multiple functions a week.   

In my area there are several groups such as a playground group, a girls book group, biography group, sports group and so on.  I only participate in one, more than that interrupts homeschool studies.  One of my children participates in a weekly class based on early American History. I felt like she needed something to stretch her a little bit.  If you don't see something that fits your needs, start something and look for kids the same ages as yours and invite them.

Step 3

What method of homeschooling should you use? There are so many different ways to homeschool.  I am still trying to decide what method I like the best.  

Thomas Jefferson Education:  Is built on 7 keys to having a successful home education experience. 

  1. Classics, Not Textbooks
  2. Mentors, Not Professors
  3. Inspire, Not Require
  4. Structure Time, Not Content
  5. Simplicity, Not Complexity
  6. Quality, Not Conformity
  7. You, Not Them
This model of education is based on the concept that every person is born a genius, we just have to discover that genius. This is a very child lead model for education, it encourages the child to be responsible for their education.  Which I think is great. I want my children to be able to study some of the things that they love. I don't want to tell them what I think they should learn. That being said, I do pick their core curriculum.  There are so many things that I love about the TJed model.  I am still learning so much about it and how to set it up in my home.  

Books I suggest reading if you choose this model:
Even if you don't end up using the TJED model, this book is so helpful in learning the phases of learning. 

Charlotte Mason was a British educator who was born in 1842.  Charlotte believed that children deserved respect and that they learn best with real life learning and situations.   She believed that instead of dry text books a child should read living books.  Living books are written by one person who has a passion for that topic and can write in a way that is engaging and not just dry facts. I love this idea.  My kids retain so much more if the information is presented in a way that they can see how it applies to every day life. 

Charlotte's other ideas include:
Nature Journals
Short Lessons
Nature Walks
Daily Walks
Art Appreciation

I have actually implanted a lot of Charlotte Mason ideas into my homeschool as I feel she offers so many good things. 

"Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium."
You can find more information on Well Trained Mind.

Eclectic Homeschooling is taking bits and pieces from all kinds of methods and implementing what works for you.  Parents form their own approach from a variety of learning models and resources.

Unschooling  is based on child lead learning or natural learning.  This method does not use curriculum or scheduled lesson time.  Unschoolers are encouraged to follow their own interests. This method was founded by John Holt who believes that children can learn math, writing, science, and history in the same way they learn to talk and walk.

In his book, “What Do I Do Monday?”, Holt writes, “We can see that there is no difference between living and learning, that living is learning, that it is impossible, and misleading, and harmful to think of them as being separate.”
Unit Studies is just like it sounds.  Pick a topic and study it until you  have mastered it and move on to the next topic.  With this method you can implement writing assignments, history and science.

Now to decide, what method will you use?

Step 4
Do not compare your homeschool to Pintrest moms.  My first year homeschooling I searched Pintrest for ideas.  There are so many amazing resources on there that I was pinning left and right.  Pretty soon I was over whelmed with all the ideas and I started comparing my homeschool to all the great ideas online and wishing my homeschooling looked like this moms or that moms.  

Pictures on Pintrest only represent a small glimpse into the homeschool life of other families. They have their up and downs as well.   Do what works for your family and don't get stressed out if you aren't doing an awesome Pintrest art project with your children every day.

Step 5
Choose your curriculum. I will share what I have used and use in another post.  Curriculum you choose will be based on the teaching method you have chosen to use.

Be sure and leave a comment below. Seasoned homeschoolers, what did you find helpful when you began homeschooling? Newbies, have I answered your questions?

One more book that you might find helpful:
One of my friends recommended this to me when I was starting out.  I was stressed about my kids learning to write.  This helped relieve some of my stress.

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