- Start with friends or family who homeschool or have homeschooled. Glean ideas from them. Before I began homeschooling and while I was pregnant with our first child, my husband had a boss whose family homeschooled. The notion of homeschooling was new and appealing. But we didn’t homeschool as the children reached school age. Our favorite babysitter was a homeschooler so we talked to her mom about the ins-and-outs and the whys. Then I had a friend who had to homeschool because her daughter was so sick during the school year that my friend was informed by the school that they wouldn’t be able to pass her on to the next grade. I was actually frightened about homeschooling because I didn’t want to ruin my children’s educational opportunities (please don’t fret about that; see Concept 14) but I finally realized that if my friend could do it, maybe I could too. That’s when I decided to try it for a year. I didn’t have to keep homeschooling if I didn’t want to.
- Join groups of homeschoolers. You can meet other homeschoolers and ask them questions as you go or just be supportive and supported. When my oldest was about to start 9th grade, I was worried again because now “it counted.” So I called an acquaintance I had met through a homeschool group and whose child had just graduated from high school. After talking to her, I was relieved! I learned I did not have to set a fire under my son, nor whip him into shape, nor put the pressure on for accomplishing more More MORE.
- Friends or acquaintances with skills (be willing to pay or trade). We had a friend who taught a couple of the kids piano. Another friend was a woodworker and was willing to teach one of my children. As mentioned in an earlier post, I have a friend who is a potterer and we taught each other’s kids. I taught theater and she taught clay. I know of others in my homeschooling groups who created a choir group for homeschoolers or the person who created a band for them. One group approached me for teaching theater. My son was able to teach theater for another group when he was an older teen.
Books: Here are some of the books that helped me to become comfortable with homeschooling and with figuring out good teaching practices. There are sources online as well but I won’t be listing them here. These aren’t the most recent books out there but they helped me enough that I bought the books.
- Homeschooling for Excellence by David and Micki Colfax. Inspiring, especially considering their children went to Harvard.
- 7 Kinds of Smart, by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. Gives me both the information I needed without getting too verbose, along with ways to put the concepts into practice.
- In Their Own Way, by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D, Chapter 1 is titled “The Worksheet Wasteland: Neglecting Talents and Abilities in Our Nation’s Schools.”
- Awakening Your Child’s Natural Genius, by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. (I really liked his books). You mean children have natural genius?? And Dr. Armstrong shows the way to help it along.
- Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. Yes, it’s Armstrong again. I figure if it works in the classroom, I could make it work at home. When reading this book and the one mentioned above, I started underlining and making notes in the margins. I had to learn how to learn and help my kids to learn.
- Strengths of Their Own, by Dr. Brian Ray. We met Dr. Ray at a homeschool conference and bought the book. It was the research about homeschooling that I wanted. If you homeschool, you’re going to hear a lot about how it doesn’t work. Dr. Ray’s studies gives the data that “counteracts myths about home schooling.”
- Howard Gardner Books: I confess that I didn’t read these but my husband did. I liked the easier, more practical books by Dr. Armstrong that are based on the MI (Multiple Intelligences) theory. Nevertheless, these books may have more “meat” for you:
- Frames of Mind
- Multiple Intelligences
- The Disciplined Mind
- Internet reading, just a sample: I found these on the internet several years back and liked them enough to print them out so here they are and please feel free to find more:
- How do Unschoolers Turn Out, by Luba Vangelova, 2014
- There’s a New Path to Harvard and It’s Not in a Classroom, by Chris Weller, 2015
Organizations: Find them. We found them through the local branch of the library. Now with everyone on Facebook or other social media sites, it’s not too difficult to track down a group near you or a national organization that will help you.
- National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI)
- Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). They have many links to National and State resources.
- Kahn Academy, great source of free online classes.
- Oregon Home Education Network (OHEN)
- Etc: Do an internet search; search with something like, “Home School [city, state].” You will probably have to drill down. I tried for my state in Oregon and didn’t find the organization that I know is closest to me. So ask around. My results were a little better when I searched on Facebook with “Homeschool [city].” Just play with the wording.
And the “concerned” friend, parent, in-law, acquaintance - unless supportive - is not a resource. If you’re homeschooling, I’m going to assume that you probably get a few looks or statements that indicate that you’re wrong to homeschool, as I did. I don’t know why people do that. It’s not as if the public or private schools have 100% success rate going for them. And I often wonder what the magic “success” definition is. Who wrote it? Be tolerant and nice where and when you can. But I wish I had the perfectly phrased sentence for those who started peppering my children or my homeschool friends’ children with questions on math, history or English grammar. If I could only have stepped between them and the kids, then smiled and said, “They only answer questions if they get paid.”* Or something like that.
If you have some resources you love (or a perfect answer to someone “testing” your children), please post in the comments.
*I’m all for not making things worse. I like to cut people slack since I make mistakes, too. But I also think it’s okay to protect one’s children.