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Homeschooling 2012-2013
How To Homeschool Your Children For The Best Education Possible
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Table of Contents
Homeschooling Advantage ............................................................................... 3
Homeschooling Today ...................................................................................... 7
Is Homeschooling Right For You ..................................................................... 9
The Plus Side .................................................................................................. 11
The Minus Side ............................................................................................... 12
Getting Started ................................................................................................ 13
De-Schooling .................................................................................................. 14
Concepts .......................................................................................................... 18
Step by Step .................................................................................................... 19
Study Up Today .............................................................................................. 23
School Time Starts Now ................................................................................. 24
Day To Day Homeschooling .......................................................................... 25
The Subject At Hand ....................................................................................... 26
Your New School ............................................................................................ 30
How Can I Be A Teacher? .............................................................................. 31
Record Keeping .............................................................................................. 32
What Can Go Wrong ...................................................................................... 39
Trends In Homeschooling ............................................................................... 43
You Can Do It ................................................................................................. 48
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Homeschooling Advantage
National Studies show that 49 percent of schools report some type of
crime involving theft, vandalism or physical threats.
There are 100 times more guns in the hands of American
schoolchildren than is reported.
Students age 12 to 18 were victims of 2.7 million total crimes while at
school.
Over 3,000 students were expelled from school in the year 2000 for
bringing a firearm to school.
What are equally as disturbing are the test scores that our children are
getting on standardized tests. No Child Left Behind provided for testing all
children to determine their academic performance and insure that all were
getting a quality education.
The results have been disappointing. In math, our students are
performing at just 3% of the world average for the same age students. In
English, that percentage jumps a little, but only to 7%. Children in other
countries are getting better educations than our own kids, and that will
eventually hurt us globally.
These are just two reasons people cite for choosing to homeschool
their children. In fact, the top five reasons given, in order are:
God and religion taught along with academics
Avoiding school violence
Providing a better education
Allowing the child to work at his or her own pace
Family convenience
It’s a trend that’s becoming more and more popular – mainly because
it does seem to produce highly educated adults in the long run. But is
homeschooling right for you? Perhaps it is!
You Want The Best For Your Child Right?
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Who knows them better than you do? You were their first teacher
after all. Why shouldn’t you continue as their teacher? If it’s financially
possible for you to stay home and school your children and you want to,
there’s no reason you shouldn’t. So where do you start?
This book will guide you toward making the decision to homeschool,
what you’ll need to know before you start, and so much more! Look at the
following:
De-Schooling your child
Setting up your home for a school area
Choosing a curriculum
Setting a homeschool schedule
And so much more!
A lot of parents would love to homeschool, but they’re afraid they just
don’t have the abilities.
That’s Where We Come In!
Even if you have no college experience and just a high school diploma,
you can still teach your child in the privacy and safety of your own home.
Hundreds of people have done it. In fact, most homeschooling parents
actually DO NOT have a college degree of any type and their children are
flourishing.
The key to a good homeschool experience is to let the child take the
reins while you simply steer instruction and give input. You don’t have to
know all there is about the Civil War for your child to learn about the Civil
War.
Classroom teachers don’t know everything. What they don’t know,
they find out. When you homeschool, your child finds out with you! They
learn so much more than what they could find out in the classroom. Look at
the proven facts:
Homeschooled children score higher than their same-age counterparts
on college entrance examinations.
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Homeschooled children progress to further levels of education than
publicly educated children
Homeschooled children have a stronger relationship with their family.
The advantages are amazing, and there are many more than these
few we have listed. When you homeschool your child, you can easily tailor
curriculum to their needs and learning style. That adds up to an eager
student and a successful school experience!
You Can Homeschool Your Child Tomorrow!
But first, you need to know a few items about the whole process
before you can fully jump in.
Believe it or not, there’s a lot that has to be considered before fully
starting a home school.
Making a schedule
Keeping records
Reporting to the right agencies, if any
How to provide socialization for your child
Fitting in everyday life with school
Establishing a school identity
For the novice, it can be overwhelming. Don’t give up on the dream,
though. You can get all the information you need and never have to leave
your home when considering homeschooling your child.
You’re going to be dealing with some criticism too, when you decide to
homeschool your child. We’ll even tell you how to deal with those nosy
people who really have no right to enter your home life. Friends and family
will be there to judge you and your decision. While you know they care, it
really isn’t any of their business, now is it? I’ll tell you what you should say
and how you should approach this type of conflict!
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There are thousands of different places you can find resources for
homeschooling as well. Why take hours and hours of your time to find them
all when I can give them to you right here in this book?
Your kids deserve to have you around giving them the education that
they deserve. You really are the best person for this job. Get started right
now.
Taylor has been accepted to four different universities and is having
problems choosing which one she prefers. The decision is made even more
difficult because Taylor is just 15 years old.
Brandon took his SAT test last Saturday. He scored 1560 out of 1600
including a perfect 800 in math. He’s looking forward to finishing his
schooling as he will be attending Harvard in the fall.
Antonio has been invited to his local college to compete for five
scholarships they are awarding amounting to full tuition for four years
about $100,000 each. The scholarships are awarded based on academic
ability and the competition is stiff every year. He’s expected to finish first
and have his schooling paid for.
What do all of these children have in common? All have been home
schooled.
At one time, home schooling was associated only with religious and
political choices in an attempt to stand up to the government-regulated
public school system. Today, however, more and more children are being
home schooled for a variety of reasons.
It’s difficult to obtain accurate statistics on this phenomenon, but
advocates estimate that as many as 1.5 million children are receiving their
education at home with their parents as their teachers. The Federal
Education Department estimated the total 10 years ago in the 750,000
range and will be revising their numbers to better reflect this new wave in
schooling.
Why do people home school? There are a variety of reasons. Many
choose to do so for religious reasons. Others are frustrated with the quality
of their child’s education and feel they can do much better. The rise in
school violence is also a reason some home schooling parents give for
wanting their children educated at home.
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Whatever the reason, studies show that home schooled children are, in
general, getting a better education as is reflected in test scores throughout
the country.
Home schooling is also a controversial subject. Opponents feels like
children who are schooled at home lack the social skills of peers their age.
They feel these kids are missing out on an important aspect of education
that leaves them ill-prepared for the real world when they are put back into
the educational system in college.
In this book, we’ll look at home schooling from a professional
standpoint as a valid option for providing your child with the best education
you can. Home schooling is more than just giving your kid a book and
telling them to read it.
There are tried and true techniques as well as materials that will insure
you are doing the right things when you decide to educate your child at
home. We’ve gathered some of the best information we can find for you and
given you some excellent sources and suggestions for ways to make your
child’s experience exciting and beneficial.
Welcome to Professor Home School!
Homeschooling Today
While many people are bored by statistics, the home school
phenomenon gives us a better idea of whether or not the choice is right for
you. We think you’ll be amazed at what the numbers can tell us.
First and foremost, let’s look at test scores. There is no blanket
federal regulation for children who are home schooled with regards to
standardized testing. The laws vary from state to state, so judging
effectiveness in younger grades is difficult.
However, since almost all colleges require test scores from either the
SAT or the ACT, we can gauge how effective home schooling is from this
type of test score. How do these kids measure up? The answer is
amazingly superior.
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With the ACT test, a perfect score is 36. The publicly educated student
will average a score of 21. Home schooled children average a 23. On the
SAT, a perfect score is 1,600. Home schoolers average a score of 1,083 as
compared to their traditional peers’ score of 1,016.
Some people don’t think the difference is enough to justify home
schooling their child, but advocates say that when it comes to education, the
more advantages you can give your kid, the better off they’ll be. Even if it’s
only a few points, those few points could make a huge difference in what
school they’ll be attending.
Eighteen percent of home schooling families have an annual household
income of less than $25,000. Forty-four percent average an annual income
of between $25,000 and $49,000. These statistics alone de-bunk the myth
of a correlation between high family income and high test scores.
Statistics also indicate that home schoolers are no longer rural white
fundamentalists. While 75% of families do attend regular religious services,
the face of the home schooled child is much different than the typical
stereotype. Almost 4% are African-American and another 4% are Hispanic.
Home schooled students also have parents who are much more
educated than the national norm. This could contribute to the quality of
education they receive when instructed by their parents.
Some opponents feel that any numbers on home schooling don’t
effectively cover all students. While the high test scores may show the top-
tier of performance, they may not accurately reflect the bottom tier. They
say that these numbers don’t take into account those students who are not
getting a good education at home.
While this may be true, once in college, the home schooled child
consistently maintains a higher GPA than their publicly educated peers.
Something is happening here that simply can’t be denied: home schooling
works when it’s done right.
The decision to home school is a very personal one that must be
examined carefully before undertaking. This decision must be made by all
family members including the children themselves.
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Is Homeschooling Right For You
For many families, home schooling just isn’t a possibility. With more
and more parents working to support the family along with single-parent
households who don’t have the luxury of staying home to school their kids,
even if you do feel home schooling is best for your child, it’s just out of the
realm of reality.
However, when you do find yourself in the position to be able to make
the choice, there are many things you need to know about before deciding
to accept responsibility for your child’s education.
First and foremost, you need to know that home schooling tends to
take up a lot of time in your day. It is more than just sitting down with
books for a couple of hours. There are experiments and projects to be done,
lessons to prepare, papers to grade, field trips, park days, music lessons,
and the list goes on.
It can be much like a full-time job, but this is your child’s education, so
making that kind of commitment needs to be fully understood in order for
them to actually benefit. Having a set schedule helps manage the time you
do have, and we’ll cover possible schedules for you to consider in a later
chapter.
Home schooling does require a certain amount of personal sacrifice for
the parent. The home school parent has little personal time or time alone. If
care is not taken to set aside time for yourself, it is easy to never have time
alone. Parent and child are together nearly all the time. That can be
extremely stressful, so make sure you’ll be able to schedule time for
yourself.
There is a bit of financial strain on the family unit as well. Home
schooling can be accomplished very inexpensively; however, it usually
requires that the teaching parent will not be working out of the home. Some
sacrifices will need to be made if the family is used to two incomes.
Because school will be at home, your child will not have as many
opportunities to make friends and develop socially. More attention will need
to be given to getting your children together with others. The beauty of
home schooling is being able to have more control of the social contacts
your child makes. This is where the home school support group can become
a lifeline.
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Life requires a certain amount of mundane work in order to maintain
an orderly household. Housework and laundry still have to be done, but it
probably won't get done first thing in the morning. If you are a stickler for a
spotless house, you might be in for a surprise. Not only does housework
need to be let go at times, but home schooling creates messes and clutter in
itself. Relax your expectations and make school the first priority and
housework a later one.
All family members should be included in the decision to home school.
Some authoritarian parents may disagree with this concept, but when you
have everyone in the household’s support, your job as teacher will be much
easier.
It is important that both parents agree to try home schooling. It is
very difficult to home school if one parent is against it. If your spouse is
against it at this time, try doing more research and talking to more people
so that you will be armed with as much information as possible to bring your
spouse around to your thinking.
A willing student is also always helpful. Ask your child how he or she
feels about being schooled at home. Ultimately, the decision is the parent’s
to make, but if your child is dead against it, you might have a hard time
being effective.
Most parents take home schooling one year at a time. There’s no
need to become overwhelmed at a lifelong commitment. Circumstances
change, and public school is always going to be there if you find that home
schooling is no longer an option for you.
Some parents who truly feel that their child should get their education
at home are intimidated, even scared, that they won’t be an effective
teacher. The truth is that if you can read and write, you can teach your
child. The curriculum and teacher materials will help through the planning
and teaching. Get help from others if you get stuck or hire tutors for the
difficult subjects.
Plus, there are so many resources out there for parents who are
teaching their child, you’ll be hard pressed to be completely clueless when it
comes to certain topics. Of course, we’ll have a separate chapter on where
to find these resources, but rest assured that the information you need is
out there for the taking.
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Talk to other people who have experience with home schooling. Listen
to the reasons why they made this decision themselves and how they feel it
is working out. They can become part of your support system as well, so it’s
good to make the initial contacts BEFORE you decide rather than after.
I’m a big fan of the pro/con list. Divide a piece of paper in half with a
line down the middle of the sheet. Label one column “Pros” and list all of
the advantages of home schooling. Label the other column “Cons” and list
the disadvantages. This should give you a better idea of whether or not
your mind and heart are in the right place.
Consider some of the following when making your list:
The Plus Side
Parents know their child better than any other teacher could. Because
of this, parents can custom-tailor the learning experience. Your
children's interests, abilities and learning styles can be accommodated.
Home schooling gives a family more time-- to be together, to
strengthen relationships, and to share values and ideas. Many families
find that learning at home takes less time than learning at school.
There are some school activities that take away learning time from
children. When you regain that time by schooling at home, this allows
your child to learn more and pursue personal interests. Plus, they can
move at a quicker pace than in the traditional classroom. Simple but
life enriching activities such as reading can be reclaimed and put to
educational use.
Many children who are publicly schooled sometimes find the noisy,
crowded environment in a classroom stressful. Recurring
stomachaches, headaches, and anxiety may all improve in a happy,
peaceful home environment.
Beyond the traditional subjects taught in school, children can obtain
life skills, such as managing money, cooking, and carpentry, by
participating in real activities required at home.
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Contrary to what many opponents feel, home schooled children can
become better socialized than their peers. They are not confined to
the same-age-only relationships of the school setting, so they have
more experience in getting along with people of all ages.
Finally, and the bottom line for many prospective home schoolers is
that home offers a degree of safety that no school system can provide.
Drugs, alcohol, violence, peer pressure are all absent in the home
setting as opposed to the school setting.
The Minus Side
The awesome responsibility for education rests squarely where most
home schoolers believe it should: on the family's shoulders. Many
people may be unwilling or unable to assume the responsibility, and
would prefer that it be left to others.
The increased "togetherness" is a bitter pill to swallow for some.
Fortunately, many find that home schooling is a positive, relationship-
healing process. Over time, both the children and parents change,
relax, and come to enjoy being together in a way that is not possible
for those families who are able to only spend leftover snippets of time
together.
Home schooling takes more effort than sending children to school. In
addition to basic subjects, energy is required to stay informed about
and engaged in activities and opportunities, legislation, and home
schooling methods and ideas.
Your home will look very different when you home school. Some
people find this to be much more difficult than they expect especially
when they are used to “a place for everything and everything in its
place” mentality.
You could be subject to some intense criticism from family, friends,
and society in general. Be prepared for this and arm yourself with
information. Remember why you want to home school and remain
committed to your decision.
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So, you’ve decided to go ahead and dive into home schooling. There’s
a lot to take care of now and many people wonder just where should they
start?
Getting Started
The first thing you should look into is the home schooling laws for your
state. Laws vary and you must know what is required of you when you
become your child’s educator. We hope you’ve found a local home schooling
support group already. Check with them to see what they’ve learned
regarding legal issues in your state.
In some places there are requirements that you inform the
government of your intent to home school in order to avoid truancy
questions. In some areas you may declare your home a private school and
thereby be exempt from government interference. In other areas, you must
be supervised by a cover school.
There is actually an organization called the Home school Legal Defense
Association that can be very beneficial to you as a new home schooler.
Check out their website at www.hslda.org to get information on legal issues
that face home schoolers. Specific state requirements can be found here as
well.
If your child has been attending public school, you’ll want to notify the
school in writing that your child will be switching to home schooling.
Notify them as soon as you’ve made the decision. By conveying this
information in writing, you’ll avoid any problem with truancy laws in your
state.
If your child has never been enrolled in your school district, no
notification, registration, or reporting to anyone is necessary. Hard to
believe, but true. If you’re uneasy about this, however, feel free to contact
your local school district and let them know you are a home schooler.
Once your child has been officially withdrawn from the school system,
public education system officials (including the Board of Education, the
superintendent, the principal, and teachers) have no jurisdiction over your
home schooled child.
School officials have no right, without a court order, to enter your
home, or to review your lesson plans, assignments, or curriculum materials.
Home schoolers are not required to provide any such materials at any time.
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In the event that you haven’t already found a support group, we
strongly urge you to make this your second step in the process. Most areas
will have at least one local group you can turn to and become a member of.
Generally, support groups offer encouragement and help along the
way. They can help with choosing curriculum, record keeping, meeting the
state laws, and providing opportunities and activities for your child.
The website about.com provides a great list of support groups by
state. The web address is:
http://homeschooling.about.com/od/supportgroupsbystate/a/sgusa.htm?terms=homeschool+support%20groups
This is not a comprehensive list, but it’s a great place to start!
There are so many other issues that need to be addressed in getting
started home schooling your child. Each of these is important enough to
deserve their own chapter in this book, so we’ll address each issue
individually.
After you’ve taken care of the legal stuff, you need to focus on your
child and helping him or her make the transition from public school to a
home school. In home schooling circles, this is referred to as de-schooling.
De-Schooling
Home schoolers who have withdrawn a child from school often find a
time of "de-schooling" to be beneficial. The term "de-schooling" or
"refreshment" has come to mean the process of reawakening the child's
natural curiosity and interest in learning, by reducing or entirely removing
enforced, coercive, and compulsory learning and formal academics.
This approach can help children "decompress" from any stresses of
their previous learning experiences and begin to think about learning in a
different way. The time recommended varies, but one recommendation is
one month of de-schooling for every year the children have been in school.
Parents know their own children best, however, and different families will
make different choices about this adjustment time.
If your child has had a bad experience in a public school, they are
most likely going to balk at anything that even resembles schooling. They
will be almost overcome with a sense of uneasiness that they are unable to
effectively express in words. This can be interpreted as rebellion if you don’t
understand why they are reacting this way.
This could be one of the most important parts of starting your home
school experience. The time spent de-schooling will vary from child to child.
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Depending on how long they were in public school, the whole process could
take anywhere from two minutes to two months. Your child will let you
know when they are ready to start learning again.
Take it slow and be understanding of how they feel. Don’t try to rush
the process just because you’re ready to get started. If you do this, you’ll
be pulling out your hair in frustration trying to figure out why this whole
home school thing isn’t working.
Remember that this type of reaction is normal and won’t last forever.
In fact, de-schooling can be just as beneficial for parents as children. It’s a
way for you to forget what you know about teaching and learning so that
you can open up your mind to your child and how he or she best learns.
There is no cookie cutter mold for teaching and adaptations need to be made
according to your child’s specific learning style.
The easy way to approach de-schooling is to just stop. You need to
stop thinking in “school terms”. Stop acting like a teacher. Stop talking
about learning as though it’s separate from life. We learn every day whether
we realize it or not. When you approach school as just life experience, you
and your child will learn much easier.
Remember that you have been your child’s teacher from the day they
were born. You taught them to eat, you taught them to talk, you taught
them to walk. You’ve been teaching them sub-consciously and there’s no
reason for you to stop now.
Even as parents leave school to teach their children at home, there is
a longing for the old way. Curriculum, learning through workbooks and
directives, checking of learning lists, “keeping up”, and making sure that
kids learn “everything that’s important” are concepts that are deeply rooted
in our American psyche. Giving any of these up is like going cold turkey to
give up shopping.
If you can’t go cold turkey, and you just can’t imagine a life without at
least a little of the school ways that are a part of our culture, don’t give
these things up. Don’t turn away from what you’ve always known. Keep all
the stuff you like about school in your pocket. Don’t go cold turkey (well,
unless you know you’re the kind of person who does better this way). De-
school gently.
In fact, when you start de-schooling, there are a lot of old ways of
thinking you must let go of. It’s not always easy – in fact, it can be
downright difficult. Most of us have had school protocol and procedures
pounded into our brains for years.
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But you’ve made the decision to home school. What else should you
let go of? The answer is a lot!
Get away from the mindset that there are certain things that you child
should learn. Yes, No Child Left Behind has put a new spotlight on standards
and learning objectives, but don’t get caught up in them. Those are school
directives, not your child’s directives.
Your child has his or her own directives. However, it’s hard to
completely let go of the idea of what a child is supposed to learn. So, keep
your directives. But let go of the “when” your child has to learn it. Yes, your
child needs to learn the multiplication tables, but it doesn’t have to be done
by a certain age like the public schools dictate.
Perhaps they’re ready at first grade; maybe they’re not ready until
fifth grade. Dump the thinking that there are certain times when learning
must occur. Let your child tell you when it’s time and everyone will be
happy.
Most schools use checklists. The thing is that they use these checklists
to tick off what they’re teaching, not what the kids are learning. Schools
have to spend a lot of time making and checking off lists, because kids take
their own sweet time learning what they have to teach, and because they
have a lot of people to report statistics to.
Home schoolers can still make lists and check them off, but instead of
focusing on what kids learn or what has been taught, make lists of what you
want to do, and what you have done. Then leave it open as to what
everyone’s going to get out of it intellectually.
Often times, the things we think our children will learn are quite
different than what they actually assimilate. If we focus on doing stuff, and
let our kids learn what they are ready for, then we can make our lists as
long as we want.
Another concept you should let go of is the urge to compare your child
to others his or her age. Your kids aren’t in public school anymore, so
there’s no way to effectively compare them to anyone else. They are
learning at their own pace which is dramatically different from the way their
peers are learning.
If you want to compare your kids a year from now, after you’ve de-
schooled a bit, that’s OK. But during those first few months of de-schooling
(or, adjusting to home schooling), give up the idea of comparing your kids to
anyone else.
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The comparison between children is one of the biggest deterrents to
learning, and can create “educational blindness”, where it becomes hard to
see the successes of our children compared to their own previous
achievements. Ok, so this is hard to get rid of.
Don’t think of it as “never comparing again.” Think of it as putting the
“keeping up” idea on the shelf…just for a few months. Then revisit it again
after you’ve had time to get to know your children, read up on educational
philosophies, and discover your own definition of success.
During the de-schooling process, it’s hard not to think that our children
are learning ‘nothing’. We took them out of school so they could learn MORE,
not LESS, right? Ok, take a deep breath… education is a long-term process.
We want our children to be happy in their lives, successful and self-
confident. These are the important things. Without these things, the quantity
of what they know gives them nothing. So, drop the school subjects of
learning and focus on the fundamentals that are required before a child can
really learn in harmony and work towards his life success.
Focus on self-esteem, confidence, knowing yourself, knowing each
other, understanding how the world works, knowing how to access
information, how to make decisions and how to be compassionate for the
people in the world.
You may have different things for your list of fundamentals, but the
concept is the same. Focus on these FIRST. Then, once that is covered, go
back to figuring out how to cover all the academic topics. But in doing that,
don’t leave behind the fundamentals.
De-schooling is not giving up everything and doing nothing. De-
schooling is a focus shift. You can do it “cold turkey”, or do it gently. But
definitely do it. Give yourself space. There is no rush in life.
We live in a country where the only limit to education is our own self-
defeatist perspective. Any person of any age can gain knowledge. But once a
person’s self-confidence and introspective compassion is lost, that is
extremely hard to regain later.
Slow down, enjoy life and learn to live better everyday. The learning
will come, in your own way. If you don’t give it at least a little space in the
beginning, it will be hard to see the forest through the trees.
You can find learning experiences anywhere. This is especially
important during the de-schooling process. Visit a museum, attend a
concert, go to the library and browse the books during this time. Play
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games, read aloud, or just sit and talk with your child. Tell them about your
past, have them share their feelings and ask questions.
Above all, to be an effective teacher, you need to listen and react.
During de-schooling, listen to your child and gradually introduce school to
them in a friendly environment.
Speaking of environment, you will need learning space when you start
to home school.
Concepts
The general concept of home schooling embraces the fact that there is
no one right way to teach or to learn. You need to be flexible to be
effective, and the same applies for your learning space. Your home will need
to be modified, in a way, so that home schooling can begin.
Organization is an important factor of a successful school year. If your
household and school rooms are both organized, you will have a much
smoother and more enjoyable time with your home schooling.
Begin by getting rid of the junk that has accumulated over the years.
If you haven’t used it in a while, you probably don’t need it anymore. Be
ruthless. You’ll be glad you were in the long run.
Find a specific space to set up for a school area. Ideally, this would be
a separate room in your home, but that’s not always possible. Many home
schoolers work at the kitchen table or in a place equipped with just a desk.
The thing you need to remember is that home schooling is meant to be
flexible.
Don’t be rigid with your space. When you have a place where you only
do work, you could be sending the wrong message to your child and instill in
them a sense of dread when it comes school time. Remember that learning
can occur anywhere at any time.
You may want to have a few brightly colored tubs to hold school
supplies that can be brought out when it’s time for learning. Set up a card
table with folding chairs if you need extra space. With whatever space you
have available, establish a school area and set up your supplies to be easily
accessible and organized.
Make sure your space has good lighting and that each child has their
own school supplies. Try a separate box or bin that can hold pens, pencils,
paper, crayons, scissors, a ruler, etc. Give your child something of their
own.
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Along the same line of thought, give the teacher something as well.
You should have a separate box or bin of your own to hold lesson plans,
reward stickers, books, etc. We’re willing to bet that when you pull out your
own box, your child will be eager to pull out theirs as well.
Once you have your space, you’ll need to decide what and how you
will be teaching.
Step by Step
There are many different ways you can approach teaching your child.
There are many learning styles as well as teaching styles, and you’ll need to
find which one works best with your child. If one doesn’t seem to be getting
results, switch to another.
Some educators believe that children learn best through doing. Others
think instruction followed by practical application is the way to go. Still
others take on an approach that combines all methods. Some children are
auditory learners, others are visual. You need to determine how your child
learns best and then capitalize on that.
Figure out your child’s learning style and rejoice in their learning. Stop
comparing them to a preconceived notion of having to learn XYZ by a certain
grade or age. You are going to be with them a lot and you will know what
they know and what they don't know right away. No need to worry that they
will graduate missing something essential.
Once you get your child’s learning style, it’s much easier to pick how
you will teach them as well as what you will teach them.
Here are a few ways for you to consider when organizing your
curriculum.
Traditional method - This approach uses structured subject times
focused on working through textbooks and workbooks. This approach
is very goal-oriented and extremely organized.
Unit Study method - This approach integrates several subjects
focused on one topic or theme. You can pick a topic that interests
both you and your child and create learning opportunities with the
same theme throughout all.
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Classical method - This approach teaches through classical languages,
critical thinking skills and western civilizations.
Un-schooling method - This approach surrounds the child with
opportunities to learn in an unstructured environment. This can also
be thought of as interest-initiated learning. With this method, your
child will learn from real life experience. Children are encouraged to
pursue their personal interests and glean learning opportunities from
that.
Community method - With this method, the child learns significant
real-life lessons by participating in events outside the home. This
method can include youth group activities, volunteer work, organized
group situations, or church activities.
Eclectic method - This approach picks and chooses from all the other
approaches.
Once you know which teaching method your family will use, you are
ready to look for the right curriculum. Remember to ask any veteran home
schoolers in your area for advice on materials in your chosen method.
However, there are several websites and catalogs that will direct you to
materials that match your needs.
In fact, there are so many home school teaching tools available now,
you may be overwhelmed with your choices. Take a deep breath,
remember the teaching style that you feel is right for you and use that as a
guideline. Do not feel that you have to teach 12 subjects to your child right
away.
At first, buy only what you need. It is easy to overbuy. Many home
schoolers find the biggest challenge is to limit what you purchase for
lessons. There are a lot of wonderful ideas, but do not set yourself up for
disappointment by spreading yourself and your child too thin.
You will want to have what you really need on hand to teach each
lesson. Just don’t present too much information. This will just frustrate you
and your child.
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What should you have on hand initially? First and foremost, take stock
of what you already have on hand. Most home schoolers have a limited
income, so going out and buying a lot of school supplies isn’t always
possible.
Look around you and find resources you already own that you can
incorporate into lessons every day. Books, writing materials, videos, and
computer games can all be learning tools. What else will you need?
Consider the following brief list:
Markers
Crayons
Pencils
Pens
Loose Leaf Paper
Construction Paper
Scissors
Rulers
Glue
Stapler
Index Cards
Hole Punch
File Folders
Various Craft Supplies
Once you have your supplies, the rest of the instruction will come from
your experience and your imagination. Let your child help you as well.
Have them express to you what interests them and plan lessons around their
input.
If you have found a curriculum that you are sure will work for you, but
it is a little out of your price range; look for used materials. With a little
extra searching, you can usually find some very good deals online or at a
local home school group's used book sale. If you know what you are looking
for, do not be afraid of used merchandise.
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Look on e-bay for some great deals. They are out there if you take
the time to look!
It is best if you purchase your materials a month or two before you
plan to use it for the first time. Prior purchase will give you time to look
over the materials and plan your teaching strategy.
Most books are straight forward in presentation, but sometimes there
are extra materials that are needed to optimize the learning. You will need
the extra time to make sure that you have everything that you need. You
will feel much more prepared if you take the time to familiarize yourself
with the curriculum.
It is often recommended that new home schooling parents buy a
curriculum ready-made. This can be a good choice, but it can also be
expensive. Start with a small one that is relatively inexpensive. This way,
you can get a feel for what it’s like to teach a curriculum at home without
wasting your money.
After a few months, you can decide whether you want more or less or
even approach it in a different way. In any case, keep your mind open to
learning new things - including coming to an understanding of the point of
each exercise, whether it works for your child and the many different ways
you can cover the same material.
Your curriculum is as limitless as your imagination. You can create
learning experiences out of anything and find information anywhere to
support what you want your child to learn. Don’t feel like you have to rush
out and break the bank on books that may ultimately prove to be a letdown.
Once you have done all of this, you are ready to begin teaching.
However, do not limit yourself to only the books that you have purchased.
Remember to utilize your local library and plan activities that might help a
lesson become more real for your child.
You will find that learning is an around the clock activity. Use the
teachable moments in your child's life and don't let them slip by just
because they fall outside of 'school' time.
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You are not teaching 20 kids and sticking to a schedule to say you
completed something. What you want is to instill a love of learning in your
child. When you learn with them, it’s a valuable lesson.
At this point, you might be wondering where you can come across the
information we’ve been talking about. You can find teaching materials
everywhere!
Study Up Today
With home schooling become a trend in the U.S. and throughout the
world, the availability of materials these days is almost endless. There are
many, many place where educational materials can be bought or even
procured for free! When you look around, you will find all sorts of things you
can use.
Start with teacher stores. You don’t have to have teaching
certification to walk through the door. Go in, look around, and find
opportunities galore! These are the places where educators go for
information, you should too. Besides carrying many, many books you can
teach from, they also provide motivational materials, organizational aids,
and so much more.
Your local library is a logical place to turn to as well. Many public
libraries have begun to order information tailored specifically to home
schoolers. These materials include lesson planning books, workbooks,
assessments, and unit plans. All are available to you for free.
The Internet is probably going to be your best resource for information
both about curriculum and instruction. You will also be able to find some
great home schooling support groups online.
When using the Internet for information, please be sure to check that
the website you are taking information from is accurate and up-to-date.
While there is a plethora of information right there at your fingertips, there
is also a lot of outdated and downright wrong information as well. When
you’re teaching your child, you certainly want to teach him or her the
accurate things and not the wrong things.
There is no one "best curriculum" that is perfect for everyone. Each
resource on the market has its advocates--you can usually find someone
somewhere who thinks any given item is "the best." Asking other home
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schoolers why they like or dislike a given resource may help you discover
whether it would work for your one-of-a-kind family.
In addition to talking with other home schoolers, you may find it
helpful to read some of the books describing home schooling materials.
They are at your local bookstore and can be invaluable resources to you.
Choosing among the many good resources available can be
challenging. To get the most value from materials, families must judge
resources for themselves, and base choices on family values, needs,
educational philosophies and their children's learning styles.
While some people choose to home school so that their child doesn’t
have to adhere to a schedule like in the public schools, it is still important for
you to have a schedule.
School Time Starts Now
There is no typical home school day. What you do and when you do it
is entirely up to you and your child. You may find a teachable moment at
bedtime; you might find it at 2 a.m.
We’re not advocating waking your child in the middle of the night, but
the point is that even though there are teachable moments everywhere, you
still need to have some sort of schedule to start with if you want to be a
good teacher for your child.
Start by setting a starting and ending time for lessons. Schedule in
time for lunch, play time, and breaks for both you and your child. If you are
toiling away endlessly at math with no end in sight, it makes for a tedious
day.
Plan the most rigorous work when your child is at their freshest.
That’s not necessarily first thing in the morning, and it’s definitely not the
last activity of the day. Mid-morning is a good place to start. Just be aware
of your child and his or her moods. When they seem to be really paying
attention, start the math or English lesson then.
Hands-on projects are good to do in the afternoon. After spending
time learning fractions and adverbs, art projects or science experiments are
a fun way to help your child relax and de-stress.
Allot time for each individual subject or just generalize time slots. For
example, have academics in morning and projects after lunch.
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The reality is that kids like schedules. Kids feel safe with schedules.
Kids feel more in control with schedules. When your child knows what to
expect, he or she can better prepare for what’s in store without wondering
what comes next.
More than anything be flexible. Don’t let the schedule control you.
It’s supposed to simply be a guideline to help you accomplish daily tasks.
You may have to try many different schedules to find one that works the
best.
You may wonder just how it is you will get everything done. Not only
the school part, but the house part as well. Believe us, it is possible.
Day To Day Homeschooling
Schoolwork, housework, relationships, grocery shopping - the list of to
do's can seem ominous at times. However, you can achieve a happy home
and home school at the same time.
The first thing to remember is the people in your family are what
make your home. Together you can work to achieve a comfortable level in
your daily life.
Set routines as much as possible. Kids like routines and it makes
your life easier. Guidelines and chore charts help everyone understand
what must be done and what is expected of them. When everyone has a job
to do and you work together, you are actually teaching. You are training
your children disciplines for life.
Now, realize that there will be days when the house isn't touched.
Perhaps you have a big project you want to complete or maybe you just
want to spend a little extra time on a specific lesson.
Don’t fret and don’t stress. Your child is ready for learning, don’t let
that time pass you by. You will be so glad you are home to witness those
moments
On days like that, keep the basic necessities in mind like lunch and
dinner. However, there will be days when you choose to let some chores be
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dismissed. This is OK, but try to stay on top of the chores that will create
more work if they are ignored. You may find that some of your plans do not
work. Don't get discouraged - keep trying till you find a plan that does.
You will need to organize your household as well as household chores
in a way that will be conducive to schooling. The key here is time
management. You’ll need time to teach, but you don’t want the housework
to build up either.
Get rid of the clutter, as we said before. This will make your job much
easier when it comes time to maintain your household.
Open mail with a trash can nearby so you can discard junk mail
immediately. Have a specific place where you keep bills that need to be paid
so you can take care of that during your bill paying time. Set aside time
once a week to pay your bills and take advantage of online bill pay services.
That alone will save you an amazing amount of time!
Set up a laundry area and teach everyone in the family to sort their
own clothes. Have three laundry bins: whites, coloreds, and jeans. When
the laundry is pre-sorted, you’ll just be able to throw in a load a lot quicker.
Consider getting a cleaning cart. A lightweight cart on wheels with
drawers is best. Hang a laundry bag on the side with clothespins or clips.
This way, you’ll spend less time going back and forth to rooms to put things
away.
Have a beginning point and go around the house in a specific motion
so you can cover the space you need to.
When you make a plan and a schedule, you’ll have a better chance of
making it all fit together.
One of the huge benefits of home schooling is that you don’t have
certain standards you must adhere to for certification or funding like the
public schools do. Still, you might be wondering what exactly your child
should be learning.
The Subject At Hand
At one time, the only required subjects in school were religion,
reading, and arithmetic. That was later revised to include science, and
social studies. Today, the public schools have many different standards they
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must adhere to as far as curriculum is concerned. This includes physical
education, health, and current events.
So what should you be including in this day and age for your child’s
education? Now that we are firmly in the 21
st
century, there’s a lot more
than reading, writing, and arithmetic that should be taught to our children.
Reading still ranks as an important skill top of the list actually.
Teach a child to read and comprehend the selection, and they will be much
better prepared for the world. Have them read anything and everything.
This includes newspapers, magazines, even cereal boxes. Suggest a
minimum of at least 15 minutes a day of reading other than textbooks.
Let your child see you read for pleasure too. Children learn through
what they see adults doing. When they see you read, they’ll start to learn
that there must be something pretty wonderful about it and begin to
emulate you.
If your children read widely they'll learn a huge amount anyway.
Encourage them to read non-fiction as well as fiction. There are excellent
books around that really appeal to young children. There are also plenty of
fiction books based in particular historic settings which give a better
understanding of history than some text-books.
Even if your children don't like reading, you can still read to them.
This is a wonderful way of drawing families closer and introducing your own
childhood favorites - even some teenagers still enjoy family reading time!
Don't try to make the reading time 'educational', but choose a variety of
classics, historical novels and contemporary fiction as it appeals to you all.
Complex arithmetic is no longer as essential as it was 100 years ago,
with inexpensive calculators widely available. Far more important is to give
your children an understanding of mathematical concepts which will enable
them to use their calculators intelligently. Ability to reason is more
important than arithmetic 'facts'.
Of course, you’ll need to focus on the basics of math. That includes
addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and fractions. Use whatever
you can to get these often dry concepts across. When you’re cooking, take
the opportunity to illustrate fractions. Learning opportunities are
everywhere when you look for them.
We are in the age of the Internet. Twenty years ago, computers were
a new concept. Today, nearly every home has at least one computer.
Learning to use these complex machines is essential for a well-rounded
education.
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Computer skills are likely to be learned intuitively if your children have
access to a computer. There is no need for special child-oriented software
unless you and your children particularly like it. Even very young children
can use regular word processors to type letters and stories, and will quickly
develop keyboard familiarity if you encourage them.
Children who struggle with the manual dexterity of writing with a
pencil can become quickly confident in typing. Perhaps your child could type
a weekly letter to a grandparent or friend, or write articles or stories to enter
in competitions in magazines.
Computer games are actually an amazing way for your child to learn
as well. Look for those games that can teach concepts like history, math,
and creative thinking. It's amazing how much history, geography and
politics can be learned effortlessly from games like 'Sim City', 'Civilization II'
and the like.
There are, of course, many specifically educational games for math
and other skills, and some excellent reference CD-Roms. But begin with
games that the family can enjoy together, and don't worry at first about
educational value. As we’ve said before, learning can come through many
venues. Kids can actually learn while they’re having fun, so challenge them.
A wonderful way to teach math and technology is through construction
toys. You may have a budding mechanical engineer on your hands. What
better way to encourage their creativity than through class toys like Lego’s,
Lincoln Logs, and Tinker Toys.
Have them build a scale model of your house which would involve
measuring, accurate drawing, scaling down etc. Show them how to estimate
size and shape by using these building blocks. Let them be creative and
design their own works of wonder.
Of course, you will need to make sure that your child is proficient in
whatever he or she is studying. Let them dictate their lessons and lead you
down the educational road. If they express an interest in algebra, by all
means, let them study it. If they want to know more about global warming,
find a way to enhance that.
A lot depends on your child’s interests, what is available locally, and
how many children you have. But the first few months of home education
can be a wonderful opportunity for getting to know your neighborhood,
spending lots of time at the library and any museums or other local places of
interest.
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Perhaps your children would like to get involved in helping at a local
nursery, or old folks' home. Perhaps they'd like to join a group such as a
Scouting organization or similar. If they like some sort of structure, try to
plan one specific activity for each day to give a focus, or begin each morning
with reading aloud, or playing a family board game.
If this isn't sufficient, you could try brainstorming together with your
children to come up with a rough timetable that covers the mornings. If they
want to continue academic studies immediately after leaving school, try
choosing some interesting work books or text books from a local bookshop
rather than buying a full curriculum immediately. Then make sure that your
timetable is flexible, something to fall back on when nothing else happens
rather than a rigid unchangeable plan for the day.
If you wake up some mornings and wonder what to do, feeling as if
you should be doing something 'formal' - try widening your scope a bit,
rather than thinking directly in terms of academic subjects. For instance my
children have enjoyed: web-page design; writing stories/novels without my
interference/help except when they ask for it; stamp collecting;
programming; graphic design; art of various sorts; music - self-taught and
from outside teachers.
Be sure to include some type of instruction in practical subjects as
well. These can include manners, good behavior, grooming, and the like.
Believe it or not, this is a learning opportunity for your child as well. The
key here is to provide back up and reasoning. Don’t just tell your child it’s
important that they brush their teeth. Give them reasons why and show
them what can happen if they don’t.
If you are concerned about your child learning those skills that are
expected by the state, look at your state’s Board of Education website.
There you will find learning standards listed that you can reference if you’re
truly concerned about subject matter.
In all actuality, however, if you approach learning as an all-
encompassing activity and let your child guide you, they will learn what they
need to and enhance their education on their own. You’d be surprised at
what kids want to know about when you let them think creatively and make
their own decisions on what they want to know.
In order to assimilate your child with peers, you may want to consider
establishing a school identity, even though your school is in your home. This
can give your child a sense of security and make them feel more normal in
the eyes of society.
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Your New School
Your school identity can be as elaborate or simple as you like. The
more you put into your school identity, the more unity and pride your kids
will feel. At the very least, coming up with a school name will provide your
children an easy answer when faced with the inevitable school question.
Be creative and put some thought into this process. This is not only
fun for the kids, but it can be extremely beneficial in helping them establish
their own identity as a student even if it’s not in a public school.
Start with a school name. This should probably include your family
name or have something to do with family interests. Your school name can
have a deep meaning or it can just be a fun way to express your family
philosophy.
Design a school mascot and pick school colors. Just because your
school isn’t a public school doesn’t mean you can’t wear your school colors
with pride. Consider designing a logo that coincides with your school colors
and mascot so you can put both on your school ID cards and stationary.
You are allowed to make up your own school ID cards. These are good
to have so you can get discounts at places like movie theaters and other
places. Design the cards on your home computer and purchase a home
laminating kit. They are just as credible as an ID card from the local public
school, so give your child a way to identify with a school your school!
Have a school notebook too. Purchase a binder with the clear covering
so that you can slide in a cover sheet. Print an enlarged logo or design to
insert in the binder. Let your kids personalize their notebooks.
Take lots of pictures and memorialize your school year with a memory
book. You can even use this as a teaching tool. Have on hand various
scraps of construction paper for decoration and encourage your child to
journal when describing the pictures on the page. It’s a great way to help
them be creative.
Make a school letterhead to have available whenever you need to
correspond in a more official manner. Design on your computer and print on
good quality paper. You can also make matching envelopes.
With all the software available, you can easily design and make your
own school t-shirts with your school name, mascot or logo and personalized
with the student's name. If your mascot is something readily available, you
can simply buy T-shirts with the design already supplied and just add your
school name with puff paints or other fabric paint.
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Look online for places where you can purchase T-shirts and
sweatshirts specifically designed for home schools.
Don’t forget the yearbook. This is a great way to incorporate art into
your curriculum. Take pictures from your school year and put them together
in scrapbook format. Remember to take your child’s formal portrait as a
class member. This doesn’t have to be done professionally either. Just take
a great picture and feature it prominently.
Many parents are overwhelmed with the thought of becoming their
child’s primary educator. They have many doubts within themselves as to
their capabilities. Do you feel this way too? It’s alright, you’re not alone!
How Can I Be A Teacher?
Being a teacher is so much more involved than just taking some
classes and receiving a diploma. When you pursue a teaching degree, you
are getting education about all sorts of different methods and strategies that
apply to a classroom with more than 5 children.
When you undertake home schooling, you don’t have to have these
types of qualifications. You are a natural teacher for your child, and you
should capitalize on that. Remember, we said, you’ve been a teacher since
your child was born, there’s no need for you to stop now.
There are no particular requirements needed to home school your
children. In fact, most states don’t even require you to have a high school
diploma. Some places may ask that you take a specific course on how to
home school, but in general, there are no special classes you need to
continue to be your child’s teacher.
The challenges some home schooling families face are incredible, yet
still their children learn and thrive. These families have an inordinate amount
of love and commitment that serves to make them more cohesive and more
capable than they were before they decided to home school.
Kids don't need geniuses or a team with teaching certificates. They
need resourceful parents who will help them find the answers to their
questions, who are willing to spend the bulk of each and every day with
them, who will drive them to enrichment activities or over to their friends'
houses, who don't obsess about test scores. They need parents who believe
in them, who are confident enough to let them find their own destiny and
help them be all they can be.
It’s important for you to know and realize that many parents feel
unsure of themselves when they undertake home schooling. Finding
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