Background: We learned about homeschooling before we even had our first child. We liked the concept. We met homeschool families after our first child was born and listened to their stories. There were a large variety of reasons why our friends and acquaintances homeschooled. But we also liked the idea of our 5-year-old going to kindergarten. It was fun. If I had based my decision on the quality of the teachers, I would not have homeschooled. We homeschooled because we felt that we could give a more interest-driven, focused and flexible, yet less factory-like, education. With that decision, I started researching including why I shouldn’t homeschool. Just for the record, no one gave me a definitive answer on why not. Here are some of the answers I got: 1) Homeschoolers are strange/shy/weird. 2) Homeschoolers don’t have social time. 3) If homeschoolers return to public school, they don’t know how to behave. 4) Homeschoolers don’t learn about democracy. The glaring problem with those “don’t homeschool” statements is they all apply to many of the children who are public schooled as well. The funniest thing I heard several times from friends was “What about the social?” Just to point out, sitting at desks in rows is not social, being on time-out during recess is not social. Learning perverse or disrespectful things on the playground is not the type of social I’m looking for. By the way, there’s a lot of social in homeschooling and I’ll cover that in another blog post. Anyway, no one ever asked me, “what about the education?” I guess they thought that was the simple part.
In the next few days, I’m going to cover some homeschooling concepts that worked well for our family. Even though there were not a lot of worksheets, there was a lot of Education. You would not believe how many simple ways there are to become educated. To quote Mark Twain, “I never let schooling interfere with my education.” This makes me sound like perhaps I’m anti-school; I’m not. I think of learning as getting facts; I think of education, along with wisdom as the ability to use or apply in a good way what was learned. Teachers & tutors (public, private, homeschool), books, internet, internships & apprenticeships are all great resources for learning. I hope to be at least a good resource for you. I’ll be covering the following:
- Access & Supplies
- Duplicating Schools?
- Internet Searching
- Be Calm, and Like Your Child (without becoming the Entertainment Center)
- Field Trips
- And College??
Homeschool Concept 1: DIY
Maybe you’ll get nervous about what they ought to know. You can do an internet search of your state’s standards. Those lists can be overwhelming but, you know what, get the gist of what they’re saying and then move on. I find that “Ed Speak” is complicated language for describing simple concepts, and most states use Ed Speak for their standards.
The other thing to remember is that school standards lists are made up. Prior to homeschooling, my second child was in 1st grade and started to try out cursive writing. At a parent-teacher conference, I was told that my child must not be doing cursive because the 2nd grade teachers had a curriculum for that. I must re-iterate that most of my children’s schoolteachers were good educators. But if your child is ready for cursive and wants to do that, let them! Encourage them if they love science or math or reading or writing or art or cooking. If your child has a more difficult time with a subject, then you can slow down a bit and find ways that make it work for your child.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Reading--let them read daily whatever they want (picture book, graphic novels, comic books, newspaper, novels, chapter books, etc.) for as long as they’re able and your schedule allows.
Math--I was going to print out math pages that I made up. It was too much so I bought a workbook for the kids. I just wanted to make sure they had basic math concepts and skills. I bought FUN math game cd-roms, too. Nowadays, you can just get apps. If my kids had been math geniuses, I would have figured out what else to do for them.
Writing--It was primarily free-writing at my house. I tried a writing program, but the kids felt it talked down to them. So keeping a journal is a basic “program.”
Social Studies: History, Geography, Culture, etc.--I found books that were easy to read and/or a great format with pictures and timelines and just neat stuff like that. Of course, there’s internet for research including some good YouTube videos.
Science, including biographies--I would pick up books of science activities that could be done at home. Like books for Social Studies, I would find cool-looking Science books, too.
Those were most of the things on my kids’ check-off lists. It would not last all day and didn’t need to. The last thing I put on the list was “Own Project.” I had to approve their project but mainly it just had to be something that they liked. Some of the projects that they chose were cooking, sewing, building, planning a birthday party, reading, playing the piano, earning scout badges, and more.
I encourage you to release the notion that only schools and educators know everything about what your child needs to learn, and enjoy creating your own private family school.