Friday, July 20, 2012

9 Rules for New Homeschooling Parents

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Bohemian Mom
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Deciding to homeschool your children is probably one of the most significant lifestyle choices you as a parent can make, and it does not come easy.

Usually one parent looks into it and must convince the other parent that it isn't crazy. So, the education actually begins with both parents opening their minds to new concepts.

Some are motivated to try homeschooling because of a bad experience their child had in public school, or some may view the conventional school curriculum as not in line with their beliefs or aspirations, while others are drawn to the freedom and joy of spending more time with their children.

No matter what the reason is, all parents who decide to homeschool will face similar challenges. Besides having to decide what and how to teach your children, you may also have to justify your lifestyle choice to the countless conformists who surround you.

When we first announced our decision to homeschool our kids, one family member brashly told us "how dare you think your smart enough to homeschool your kids." Another said "You're going to ruin your kids' lives."


So much for good old family support, right? Even though the popularity of homeschooling is growing by leaps and bounds, most will find many family members, or even their spouse, to be resistant to the idea when it's initially proposed as it's out of line with traditional conditioning.

In the face of this pressure, you must choose what to teach and how to teach it so you don't "ruin your kids' lives." Then comes actually filling your days with lessons and activities while managing the household and, sometimes, another profession as well.

It is not an easy path, but ultimately it's worth it for those of us who philosophically commit ourselves to homeschooling. There is no standard approach to homeschooling, but we thought outlining some rules for happy homeschooling can help others find more peace in their journey.

Here are some basic rules that may help new homeschooling parents:

Educate Yourself: I don't mean re-learning Algebra. I mean both you and your spouse must learn about homeschooling and agree on the general philosophy. It is nearly impossible for homeschooling to succeed if both parents aren't on the same page. The experience will quickly deteriorate if one parent resents the idea or is overly critical of the process. Luckily, there are many terrific books and blogs about homeschooling to give you plenty of helpful information and support.

Consider it a Trial Run: Calling your adventure into homeschooling a "trial run" will help in many ways. First, it will diffuse negative reactions from friends and family who will inevitably pepper you with questions like "what about college?" If you must, explain your reasons for trying it and tell them if it doesn't work out they can always go back to school. This also relieves the pressure to plan too far ahead. It can be easy to lose yourself in the magnitude of responsibility that comes with being in charge of your child's education. Don't worry about long-term success or failure, just consider it a new experience with nothing to lose.

Put Joy and Happiness First: Happiness and joy should be the overriding goal for your homeschooling experience. Everyone should enjoy the process. Otherwise, what's the point? Teaching and learning is much easier if everyone is having fun. If something isn't working, or is causing too much tension, then change your approach or scrap it altogether. Happiness equals success. Period.

Have a Flexible Curriculum: Your kids do not need to be spelling bee champs to justify your decision to homeschool. Sure, it's wise to set some basic academic goals, but be willing to throw out the "on par with grade level" mentality if necessary. Kids are sponges for learning, especially when they're enjoying themselves. Believe me, they'll always be learning far more than a standardized test can show.

Teach How to Think: All public school students are taught what to think, but few learn how to think. Homeschooled kids aren't special because they learn what to think better than their schooled peers, they're special because they learn how to think. So ditch the flash cards unless you can use them in a memory game. In other words, be creative in presenting boring material as a mystery waiting to be solved. Make your lessons more like treasure hunts. The ability to solve problems is far more valuable than the ability to memorize "facts" that can be Googled in 2 seconds.

Embrace Technology: Some homeschoolers have a negative view of TV, gadgets, or video and computer games. Admittedly, we ditched our cable TV service 4 years ago, but that doesn't mean we're against our kids watching TV altogether. We just thought it lost its value since the Internet offers the same product, commercial free. Movies, iPad apps, Kindles, and computer games are fantastic educational tools. Learning to use these tools properly and keeping up with the changes in technology is essential to include in your curriculum.

Join Local Homeschool Groups: You may be surprised how many families homeschool in your area. These groups are an excellent way to make new friends and to get ideas and support. Many will plan events, classes and field trips, play dates, chess clubs or sports, and even dances for the older kids. Join the various groups that most appeal to you and you will immediately gain a support network and social interaction for your kids.

Adapt Quickly: There is no one right way to homeschool. Every single homeschooling situation is unique to each family. So don't be overly committed to a certain approach if it isn't working or you're not enjoying it. On our homeschooling journey, we've gone from a strict curriculum with books and schedules to pretty much unschooling. Nothing you ever do is lost or wasted; it all serves as a lesson in the homeschooling experience. But the faster you realize something isn't working, the better. Follow your intuition and don't be afraid to adapt midstream.

Have Faith And Be Confident: Most of us were traditionally schooled, so it's only natural to second guess our homeschooling decisions. Am I doing enough, not enough, or what else should I be doing? Are they getting enough socialization? I really enjoyed high school sports and dances, am I depriving them of those experiences? All I can say to these common insecurities is to trust the process. Have faith that the unique experiences you can offer by homeschooling will far outnumber the few memorable times you had in school. And if you do your best to maintain a joyful atmosphere and focus on happiness, everything will turn out just fine.

Deciding to homeschool your kids is a monumental decision, but it doesn't need to be stressful. Just educate yourself as much as possible and do a trial run. It is impossible for you to "ruin your kids lives", so don't listen to the criticism from people who know nothing about homeschooling. Make it fun and joyful and watch your children blossom into unique happy people.

Good luck and happy homeschooling!

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8 comments:

DL. said...

The overriding reason we homeschooled our two kids was that I had been a teacher in public school and learned to hate the public school system, the lack of discipline in classrooms, the "need to conform" to "peer pressure" and yes, being told what to think. One of the kids recently graduated from Texas A & M, the other is now in the local university and is studying to be a teacher...of English overseas (TESOL). Not bad for two kids who were homeschooled.

Anonymous said...

Make sure you are involved in the church.Otherwise they will come at you hard. Be fully learned in the curriculum your child will be using. Make sure you know what your doing and able to outline on paper to the authorities what your goals are. Contact lawyers who are proficient in these matters, they will help you! I had police at the door while on the phone to the lawyers. Public schools are death camps. Do what you can to deep your kids out of there. Good Luck

E m Seda said...

It is the best gift you can give to your children.
No public school will ever give that quality of education.

Ellie said...

My parents homeschooled me from preschool through high school, for which I am very grateful. They followed many of these guidelines, and while it was not the easiest endeavor, I don't think any of us would have done things differently. When I say this to people, they generally ask, "But didn't you miss the socialization? Didn't you miss having friends?"
Actually, no, I didn't. While not all homeschoolers experience the classic school dances or sports (although, I know many homeschooling parents with children who were very invested in sports, and they found available options that allowed their kids to play as much as anyone in public or private school), or, in my case, theatre, those things are, in my opinion, worth trading for the ability to learn how to think, the chance to grow as your own person, not a person made on an assembly line. As for friends, of course I had them. I am an introvert, so to an outsider it may have seemed like I had little social life, but that was because I chose to have fewer, closer friends. Homeschooling gave me the chance to make that choice without being ridiculed for it.
Don't believe that because your child is homeschooled he or she will never face peer pressure, will never be teased by other children--if your child is in a social setting in any way (in other words, if you ever let him/her out of the house), this will happen. Homeschooling doesn't stop this. What it does is give your child less of it (you won't see these people five days a week), and it gives you, the parents, a chance to see it happening and help your child through it. It is a bonding opportunity, if you treat it that way.
What about college? My parents made a transcript and I took the PSAT and the SAT so that I had standardized test scores to confirm their grades. I also took a couple classes at the local community college during my Junior and Senior years of high school (this not only gave me grades from someone besides my parents and credits that transferred, but it also helped to prepare me for a college setting, something that I appreciate greatly now). It's also worth noting that colleges are starting to look for homeschoolers especially, because they are generally more prepared for college (or so I've been told). I am currently a Junior at my state university, and while I love college and I love the experiences I'm having here, I know that it would be very different (not necessarily in a good way) if I had not been homeschooled.
Oh, I should also note that my parents are almost finished homeschooling my younger sister (she's a Senior this year), and are still going with my brother (5th grade)

If you choose to homeschool, I wish you much luck, and a wonderful time being your childrens' parents.

Anonymous said...

I have 3 children who were home schooled from birth through high school. Presently one has graduated college with a business degree, while the others are still in college. Business as well. (Deans list both)

All three worked in their own business during high school and college and were able to graduate virtually debt free. Upon graduation the oldest formed his own business and is financially independent. The others will follow.

This education is the greatest gift you can give them, your family and yourself. Your children will grow up to love and respect each other, avoid virtually all of the idiotic social pressure and problems that trip up their public school educated peers. You will find that they learn to interact with old and young alike and will not suffer from the "classic" adolescent rebellion and funk.

Ignore all of the friends, family and jerks you will give you their poorly reasoned advice. The are both ignorant of this reality and fools.

Your kids will end up years ahead socially and will grow to be a true joy to you, will be true to themselves and will learn to think on their own.

These kids are the last hope of a nation of dumbed down zombies who cannot think on their own or put in honest work for a living.

Anonymous said...

Although I have worked in different fields and only done substitute teaching, I do have a lifetime teaching certificate in one state and have had other certificates in other states. My children went to traditional schools(my husband is a conformist)yet they did welland my son got a scholarship to the local community college. With two years he has always earned more as an adult than either I or my husband! If detractors tell you how wrong you are, tell them if they had a bad teacher and flunked, that is only a year lost and not the end of everything. Summerschool and repeat time can 'restore' the home schooled should they fail!

Anonymous said...

Burgon Russel, „Education should aim at destroying free will, so that after pupils have left school they shall be left incapable throughout the rest of their lives of thinking and acting otherwise as their schoolmasters had wished. Diet, injections and injunctions will combined to produce the sort of character and the sort of believes that the authorities consider desirable. And any serious crtitizism of the powers that will be become psychologically impossible. „

Education devra se diriger a detruir libre penser, donc apres les eleves ont terminer l ecole ils seront incapable pour le rest de leurs vies de penser et se comporter different que leurs maitres de l ecole ont desiree. Nuriture, injections et preceptes vont combiner a produire le type de charactere et le type de croyances que les authoritees consideres desirable. Chaque critizisme serieuse de les pouvoirs qui dirige va devenir impossible psychologiquement.

Anonymous said...

One hates to bring up an increasingly important reason to homeschool one's child- and that is to avoid the drivel and false narratives which are taught in government schools, as well as conformance with extremely dangerous government diktate.
Indeed, one of the more important issues facing government school children, is the increasingly control oriented and corporatist medical and in particular, the vaccine program, which is argued to be required to attend school (it generally isn't).
Given the fraud and criminality associated with the vaccine program and its protocol, a step back from same by homeschooling the child will ultimately allow the child to maintain their health and avoid all of the disease states and conditions which are ushered in by a fraudulent criminal "mandatory" vaccine program.
As a start, please review the following article and also review the articles which are linked on the right side of the article to give you a flavor of the criminal clusterfuck certain government agencies have inflicted upon our children by virtue of their delusional "mandatory health program".

www.tinyurl.com/88w88rp

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