When we started researching home schooling two years ago I was determined to make better educational choices for our children. As a parent, you want to provide opportunities for your children you did not have. After much research and knowing the temperament of our children, we decided homeschooling was our best option. It provided a challenge, we set our own schedule, and it opened up a world of external learning beyond four walls and a door.
Since we have started home schooling I will say there is, as with many groups, a segregation amongst different reasoning for home schooling. Some will say you aren’t a “pure” homeschooler if utilizing a state funded program. Some will say you are not a homeschooler if you do not generate all your lessons from scratch. Still others will say whatever medium you choose to teach your children with do it. However, you choose to home school, we are all part of the same community. We were choosing this lifestyle because it was our educational choice; not because of religion, learning disabilities, gifted children, etc… It was just a better opportunity to provide a more hands on role in our children’s education. Becoming part of this community, it was very eye opening to see segregation in a community where external parties put everyone in the same homeschooling category.
As a parent who teaches, one of my greatest joys is watching, our own children express their interest in different subjects. When we started, it was all about writing, lately it’s been about science and reading, sometimes creative writing. Neither one of them enjoy math, but they give the same response “we know we have to do it….” As we have moved forward, I have encouraged creative thinking and exposed the girls to as much material as I could. When I started the journey, I felt constricted by the curriculum, which was provided. Moving forward I found often I was adding more materials, as well as finding outside opportunities for learning. When you start home schooling you will be nervous, but as you learn your children’s abilities and gain self-confidence with being their teacher you will expand your horizons.
I am asked many questions about home schooling, which I welcome. I wish I could be the spokesperson for it, but I’m still a newbie and not a veteran yet. Therefore, here are a few things I would tell someone starting out:
- Ignore the people saying it’s a bad decision to home school, even if they are family. It will be your greatest battle, and honestly why should you care. As long as your partner/spouse and you are on the same decision path, that’s all that matters. When the kids are flourishing, these will be the same individuals who take credit for your work, ideas, and thriving family.
- Be disciplined, set a schedule and be flexible, but try to stay to about the same amount of time and time of day; this helps kids to understand this is the time we do school.
- Have a good place to work, but don’t forget home schooling happens anywhere! Just make sure there are no distractions. Distractions lead to dancing, laughing, and little schoolwork. (although laughing and dancing is strongly encourage in our house, just not during school J)
- Understand what socializing and socialization means. (via http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/socialization)
so·cial·ize /ˈsoʊʃəˌlaɪz/ Spelled [soh-shuh-lahyz] verb, -ized, -iz·ing. verb (used with object) : to associate or mingle sociably with others: to socialize with one’s fellow workers.
so·cial·i·za·tion Spelled [soh-shuh-luh-zey-shuhn] noun : a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.
Please don’t expect this to be an issue. Our kids spend more time socializing with other kids and they for sure have their own identity. In fact, they are more secure in who they are because of our home life and spend more time out doing great things solo and with their friends.
- Do develop a community of supporters to ask for help and encouragement when needed. These people may be new as well, or be veterans; another person’s perspective on a subject may provide answers or help when you’re at a roadblock. Having a sense of community is an important aspect of home schooling. Whether that community is in person, on line, local groups, or other families; it helps to understand others and gain insight from parents who have been there done that.
- Do ignore all those people who look at you as if you are a Saint from another universe because you home school your kids (and when they say “I could never do that” and you want to provide an encouraging notion – just let it go. If they know they can’t, then they know themselves.) Let’s face it, it is not easy, but the rewards way out weight the challenges.
- Have fun and be flexible! Remember, learning happens everywhere and not on a schedule. You choose to home school because of freedom. Do not ask for freedom and then demand learning happen on a schedule. That’s a bit of a double standard, don’t you think?
- Know who you are and be steadfast in your personal identity. People will throw all kinds of personal questions at you once you tell them you home school. Be open to answering them, curiosity is human nature. Educating people about your home schooling path may help others dismiss some of those ridiculous notions about home scholars and squelch fears they have about getting started.
You will face adversity and varied opinions because you home school. You may find a greater compassion and understanding for other groups, which face the same adversity for their personal choices. Overall, it’s important to know thy self. That should be the cardinal rule of home schooling.
One of the things I did not count on was all the support, answers, conversation, and open arms many of the homeschooling community members provide. Bottom line, do what works for your kids, relax, and take it easy, it will all fall into place. Challenges will be on going with new subjects and new materials, that is just education. However, on a personal level, after 6 month of home schooling, my nerves are at bay and I am confident in what I am doing, you will be too. That’s an invaluable lesson.