How To Homeschool
The title of this article is a misnomer. There is no such thing as "one way to homeschool." There are as many ways to homeschool as there are families engaged in it. What you will have in common with other homeschoolers, whose children have already been in school, is that your family will have adjustments to make. It is important to allow your family time to make these adjustments. Here are a few suggestions, which will help ease your transition into homeschooling:
1) Find a support group that you're comfortable with. A support group can offer you a sense of "normalcy," a place to socialize, access to interesting field trips, information on topics of concern, a sounding board for problems, and tips on finding and utilizing resources and information.
2) Read up on your state's homeschooling laws, and about homeschooling in general. This will help you respond effectively to skeptics. A support group is also helpful for gleaning tips on handling nay-saying family members.
3) Choose homeschooling books that show what true family learning is, so you avoid duplicating classroom techniques.
4) Work with your family's unique set of talents and abilities, and keep your expectations realistic. Plan for setbacks, downtime and moments of uncertainty. These things happen in the most experienced and best-organized homeschool families.
5) Try to see every aspect of your lives as learning experiences. The most important factor in effective homeschooling is committed parents who lead interesting lives and are available to help children find answers to their questions. You can use any situation as an opportunity for learning. Friends, extended family members, and new and familiar faces in the community can all be "teachers" to homeschooled children. Your children will learn more useful things from real-life people and events than they could from decades of reading textbooks, filling in worksheets and taking tests.
6) You can't teach everything that's taught in schools- even if you wanted to! Conversely, the schools couldn't possibly teach everything your children will learn by living in the real world. Likewise, your children will learn differently than other homeschooled children. Don't compare yourself or your children to those in other families. Comparisons will usually only undermine your confidence. They serve no good purpose.
7) Keep your homeschooling simple and inexpensive. You don't need to buy expensive curricula, computer programs or other homeschooling materials. There are many wonderful learning materials available free, or for little cost, or that are items you can find in most households. You don't have to fall victim to the marketing savvy of all the newfangled equipment designed for marketing to homeschoolers. Talk to other homeschoolers and find out what has worked for them, and why. Then decide which might work best for your family.
8) Ease into it. Children who have already been in school often need some time to recover and relax, before delving wholeheartedly into homeschooling. Let your child see that homeschooling is markedly different than school: go on interesting field trips; socialize with other homeschoolers; and ask your child what he or she would like to learn about first, then go to the library; involve your child in everyday tasks around the house, like cooking, gardening, caring for siblings, making things; suggest your child take up a new hobby; read together, listen to books on tape, take music lessons together. Your child will come to see that homeschooling is something you do together, as a family-something that is interesting, flexible, and adaptable to his or her needs. Depending on your chosen method of assessment, you may want to categorize these activities for your records. For instance, cooking involves mathematics, reading, and perhaps social studies, if you're preparing a traditional dish; gardening involves language arts, science, mathematics, history�
Homeschooling is a process-one that involves flexibility, resourcefulness and commitment. As you try various materials and methods, you will find your own style, and reap the many rewards of homeschooling your children.
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