thinking about homeschooling? Top 10 considerations

Homeschooling was one of the most rewarding and challenging pursuits of my life. I have learned a few things after four years of homeschooling two children 2nd thru 6th grade. Here are my top 10 things to consider if you are thinking about homeschooling.

Top 10 Considerations

  1. Not everyone can or should homeschool. With all the different ways to school from home, one thing remains the same, the parent in charge must have some skill set in pulling together materials/resources and must be disciplined enough to make sure it gets done consistently, on a daily basis, especially for younger children. Parents are required to give subject guidance and oversight at the very least. Even if your child will be attending an online academy, you will still need to ensure your child has all the resources needed, the resources are set up for use, your child gets the work done, and you ensure the assignments are turned in. Homeschooling elementary aged kids (and often older kids) requires complete engagement from the parent. With all that said, you may very well be the best suited teacher for your child.
  2. #2 closely follows #1 – not every household is good for homeschooling. I have heard of and met homeschooling parents who were working full time and making an attempt to homeschool their young kids – young being the key term. I found effectively homeschooling my own young children was a full time job, plus overtime. Those families that I did meet or “hear of” were either in turmoil trying to get it done or gave up. I recommend a parent be in the home full time when trying to homeschool elementary aged and immature middle school aged children.
  3. Teachers should teach to the grade of their proficiency. When my kids started getting into higher math, I was keenly aware of my inability to teach the subject. Now, each kid is different and some kids can sit in front of a DVD and learn math skills; however, mine couldn’t. My kids needed a teacher, on site, who could explain concepts and answer their questions. In this case, a community co-op is helpful! Also, some schools allow homeschoolers to attend classes. For our family, this is one reason we returned our children to a brick and mortar, accredited school.
  4. Set goals for your homeschooling endeavors. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to homeschool?” and let the answers guide your goal building. For example, does your child need to strengthen their reading? Do you want to teach certain values? Do you want to expose your kids to the arts? Goals can also be about how many lessons per day or quarter you want to get finished. Once goals are made, check your progress a few times a year. Goals will likely change as you accomplish parts or whole goals each year.
  5. Explore your resources. As communities have grown, so has the plethora of tools and resources. There is a variety of curriculum types and I always recommend starting with Cathy Duffy’s Reviews, (https://cathyduffyreviews.com) to get an idea of all that is available. You can choose from complete boxed curriculum, individual subject curriculum, unit studies, your own curriculum, or an online program.
  6. Consider your child’s learning style. Each child has their own learning style, so find that out as soon as possible to match their learning styles to the curriculum. And don’t fear, as stated above, there are many resources available to choose from once you learn your child’s learning style. Here is a great site to find out your child’s learning style. https://homeschoolon.com/the-learning-style-quiz/
  7. Partner with your community. The homeschool community has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 15 years! If you don’t have or can not connect to the local homeschool co-op, then find a group on facebook. There are plenty of families out there connecting, getting questions answered, and working together to education their children. To find connections, google “(your zipcode/town name) homeschool.”
  8. Be ready to change it up! If a curriculum, co-op, or teaching style is not working for you or your kids, then change it. One of the greatest things about homeschool is your ability to make it successful through change. I agree with Charles Handy when he said, “Change is another word for growth, another synonym for learning.”
  9. It is OK to consider yourself. I recommend the homeschooling parent(s) cater to their needs along with their child’s. For example, if you, as the homeschooling parent, thrive in organization, make your homeschool experience an organized experience. If you work better in the morning, adjust the children to your schedule. A happy teacher makes for a happy homeschool environment. Notice, this rule of thumb includes considering the child(ren) as well as the parent.
  10. Have a marathon mindset! The BEST advice I got early on from seasoned homeschoolers was “homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint.” Do not become overwhelmed by what needs to be accomplished in a year or in 12 years. Work with one year at a time and use a planner. Divide the amount of lessons for each subject into the days you are schooling (most states require 180 days of instruction), and then do the quotient per day. For example, if there are 200 lessons in your language arts curriculum, divide 200 by 180, equaling 1.1. Do one lesson per school day. AND, don’t worry about finishing absolutely every lesson in a curriculum. Hit the high points to get back on track if you find you are falling behind. Near the end of the year, if you find you have 50 lessons left, again, hit the high points. This is where organization, consistency, and goal checking comes into play for success.

Homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint.

I hope these top 10 considerations were helpful and I wish you the best in your homeschooling endeavors! If you have a question, please ask in the comments. If you have another consideration to add to this list – please do in the comments.

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Advantage of Looking Forward

I am very thankful for the Christmas and New Year break – indeed we do break. By the time December 21st came to this homeschooling household, I was posting teacher excitement pictures for the upcoming break on my Facebook page! I was ready for the break. The kids were ready for the break.

A bird’s eye view

During the break we rested and got caught up on household projects that needed attention. Also, I took a day to look forward. This allowed me to develop a bird’s eye view of how we would approach the rest of the curriculum. For us – I make an educated decision on what to actually go threw and what to skip based on what we have left in our curriculum. I am glad I decided to look forward. It allows me to rest knowing we are going to get the important elements of each subject finished.

Rethinking and Comparing…

Wow…just wow — if that is possible.  Homeschooling my two kids (late elementary) for the last three years has truly expanded my experience in things I see and deal with that would never have entered my palette of experience outside of homeschooling.  I have found when I go through very difficult life situations I can come to a place of feeling a “wow” with a little “w” with a just attached – if you know what I mean.  It is significant enough to leave me utterly stumped – at a complete stop looking both ways thinking “what do I do now?”

Plans quickly faded…

This is where I found myself at the end of this school year that I thought was a shining culmination of our three year homeschool endeavor.  I had my kids standardized tested for the first time and then attempted placement tests due to a desired curriculum change.  Both of my children bombed the standardized test and then one of my children did very poorly with my preferred curriculum’s (for the coming year) placement test.  My plans quickly faded in the face of a reality check…or did they?  This brought on an onslaught of prayer, scripture reading, and reaching out to homeschool friends and community.  What did I learn?  What can I put in the overflowing, steep learning curb basket?

What did I learn?

One, I will never have our journey completely figured out while in process — only at hindsight.  Two, there is a lot of wisdom and encouragement in the homeschool community and I have not experienced anything unique.  Three, while the wisdom is there, there is still struggle to find the right path for our own family.  I still need to answer the question, “What will we do now given the current results?”  Finally, I was reminded not to compare my children to what might be coined “normal,” especially since my one child who struggled with the placement test has a history of developmental delay in the given subject of struggle (verbal communication, vocabulary, comprehension) – language arts.

The “just wow” feeling has passed now that I have processed it for a few days.  I will go through the next level of placement tests with my struggling child to use it as a review.  In the end, I sense we will be using a different online curriculum, but I am not sure just yet.  One thing homeschooling has built up in me is patience.  I will chew this cud a bit longer to consider options and will come out with a plan for next year.

…there is someone who understands…

I hope you can find encouragement in your homeschool struggles through prayer and/or homeschool community.  I hope that whatever you may feel your facing in isolation, there is someone who understands, has lived through it, and has successfully come out on the other side.

Happy homeschooling!

The Sigh of Relief with Nervous Anticipation — the Final Week

So what does the life in this homeschool look like in the final week of the year? Today I am planning it all out — the last week of homeschool for 2017-2018. The agenda will include one more Science cram, and a Science test; Language Arts – Adverb cram, and a Language Arts test; steady work on the final math chapter; 1 piano class and at least 2 practices; no History or Civics since we finished that curriculum two weeks ago.

...relaxed summer schedule

This agenda will roll us naturally into a relaxed summer schedule that will include daily reading, finishing up the math curriculum, and trying out the new online curriculum. We are changing up how we do homeschool entirely. “Why?” you may ask.

Being the third year of homeschool, my kids are entering into 5th and 6th grade materials. Both of my children are becoming more independent since they are able to read with understanding on their own (for the most part). They say they are “ready” for the online learning environment, and I think they are tired of helicopter mom and all the worksheets. I am all about independence and someday, though I will miss them, I want them to be able (and willing) to fly out of the nest fully equipped to do life well. So this new change makes all of us excited and we all hope it works. This summer will be the trial.

This summer will be the trial.

So, we will end this week with a sigh of relief with a bit of nervous anticipation of new and refreshing things this coming school year.

How is your end of year homeschool going and how (if any) is next year’s agenda affecting your summer?

 

Homeschool Frustration — on a Friday at that!

Homeschooling is not all rainbows and unicorns. At the end of our third year homeschooling, I would sum homeschooling up with an encouragement and a warning. I could never have a deeper relationship with my kids then I do now; however, the process is NOT for the faint of heart.

…not all rainbows and unicorns…

It is amazing how on one day homeschooling flows from education lessons to real life applications with sweet harmony, and the very next homeschool day it is full of hindrance.  Today, frustration does not come from a very dry or confusing curriculum the kids resist, but just bad behavior from bad moods.  It is the end of the week and I had to move the new hermit crabs’ habitat from my daughter’s room into the school to avoid future fighting. (Why did I even think for a second that would work anyway?) While the crabs rested in their new home’s pleasant position in front of the big window, a fight ensued between my offspring and me as she resisted, in resentment, anything she was “required” to do.

Disciplining in these times is very stressful, when prayer is an ongoing stream of silent yells for help.  Oh Jesus – help me!  If this child continues to disrespectfully turn her head and body away from me when I am teaching or roll her eyes at me, I will not have the strength to continue. That “Help me Jesus” prayer is as specific as I can get many times because it feels debilitating to not know the next step; definitely knowing you can’t do what your flesh is screaming to do – scream! So the kids are tucked safe in their rooms until the fire is extinguished and the smoke stops shooting from momma’s ears. It only took me a few minutes of silent breathing, praying, and considering all the things I have to be thankful for before I could continue and “adult” with a level head.  Maybe the unicorn can come out to play tomorrow.

Musings of a Homeschooler

So, I have been homeschooling for three years now, and a learning flow has developed.  It is funny how many things turn into learning events.  I imagine it happens this way for kids in brick-and-mortar schools; however, I am keen to what the kids have covered in school, so I can use daily events to practically reinforce lessons learned.

The flow…use daily events to practically reinforce lessons learned.

For example, today the kids bought their first “live” pets.  One child explained, “I set up the habitat already,” to one of the workers at the local pet supply store.  And, indeed she had researched, pulled all the supplies together, set it up, and monitored the tank for two days ensuring perfect temperature and humidity for a pet hermit crab.  Enter this beaming homeschool momma.  Another lesson learned as a part of this event was how much it cost to care for the little crustaceans.

Another good example of the “flow”.  This past week I took the kids to an Arboretum and we talked about how the geese preen to ensure their feathers do not absorb water.  We also found a rock full of fossils (pleasant surprise), and we walked into a field infested with ticks.  All of these events (to include the tick situation) instigated a learning opportunity that reinforced a recent homeschool lesson.  Homeschooling doesn’t feel like work when we are in the flow; it feels like life.

 

Homeschool Journey and Encouragement

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