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Guest post, So you’re going to homeschool – now what? by Jennifer Dodrill, History at Home
Our 3rd kiddo came home from the first day of 6th grade and smashed his glasses between his hands. That should have been our first clue that middle school might not work for him. He had constant headaches and stomachaches through the next few months and frankly, he was miserable. We finally pulled him at Thanksgiving break and decided we were going to homeschool. That was fourteen years ago.
COVID-19 has really changed things though. Now, the uncertainty with schools because of COVID has prompted lots of families to start homeschooling or at least consider it. Maybe it feels like less of a choice and more of a “have to.”
You are combining the surrealness of a pandemic in with all the things you need to learn to be able to educate at home. Overwhelmed? Possibly so, but you’ve got this! And we’re here to help.
Homeschoolers love to help other homeschoolers, and in this post I hope to give you some great tips for this transition from public school to homeschool! There are several things that are important to know when you decide you’re going to homeschool, and whether you’ve had your kids home all along, or did what we did and pulled them from public school, homeschooling offers many wonderful opportunities to learn and grow with your child.
So you’re going to homeschool - first things first
I let my son “detox” from public school. This had benefits for him and also for me as I figured out what I needed to teach him and how he learned. The transition wasn’t always easy, but I will say I’ve never regretted the decision.
You may have been researching all summer in case this COVID stuff hung around, or maybe you just made the decision. Either way, you do have time to learn what you need to do, plus this gives your kid(s) some time to chill out, relax, and adjust. Both you and your family are making big changes.
What do I mean by “detox?” Let your kids play, let them enjoy summer a little longer. Whatever amount of time you need to get your stuff together, let that be okay.
You’re all new to this
Thank goodness, my son had never been homeschooled either, so we truly learned together. I found out he liked to have very specific goals and he liked to work independently. He wanted less “teaching” and more “here you go, do this.” Structure in our day was incredibly important to him.
I think it makes a difference how old your child is as far as how much input they have in the process. Since mine was in middle school, I let him have a say in the curriculum he chose and how he learned.
It’s important to find out the homeschool laws in your state. HSLDA has the best tool for that. Go to Homeschool Laws in Your State, click on your state, fill out the popup box, and it takes you right to your state’s laws. Easy peasy!
(Learn how you can find out your style at the end of this post)
Homeschooling styles or models
There are a number of styles of homeschooling, so I’ve got a great list to help you understand:
- Charlotte Mason –an educator in the 1800s who believed in guiding children’s natural curiosity and ability. She felt that children should interact with nature and their environment as they learn, and she believed in the “gentle art of learning.”
- Classical education – this uses developmental phases in education (applied Trivium) – elementary kids learn fact-based information, middle school students learn logic and reasoning, and high school students develop the art of abstraction and persuasion. Classical education often incorporates Greek and Latin, and there is often an emphasis on biblical worldview.
- Eclectic schooling – using a variety of resources and curriculum in your homeschool. *This style worked best for my kiddos.
- Traditional – basically like public school textbook education at home.
- Unschooling – this doesn’t mean you don’t “do” school, it means child-led schooling where the educational decisions are more about the child’s interests.
- Montessori – an educational philosophy from Dr. Maria Montessori that guides how young learners develop and learn.
I ended up being an eclectic homeschooler, using a little bit of this and a little bit of that. With my son, I used some of the books he was using in middle school until I got more comfortable with branching out. Seeing how he learned, influenced what I picked. One of the best websites I’ve found that dives into each method in great detail are The Best Schools.
I had plenty of people to talk to about curriculum. My sister was a homeschooler and I knew several people where I lived that homeschooled. I started with my son though. I asked him what he wanted to learn – surprisingly he didn’t say “nothing!” For consistency, he wanted to stick with what he was already doing in public school. I ordered the textbooks and used them as much as I could. And like I said above, we ended up using different resources for different subjects as things evolved.
And, just remember, it is fine to rethink your curriculum choices. I often did that, even throughout the school year.
One tip is to find something they really want to learn but either couldn’t or didn’t in public school. My son wanted to take guitar and art lessons. I found those pretty easily in our community.
Concrete ideas when you’re going to homeschool...I have some ideas that I hope will help you as you find your way:
· If you’re looking for free or paid resources – check out Pinterest, Google the subject, or take a look at TeachersPayTeachers.
· If you need to know what to teach your kiddo(s) at this stage, there is a series you can get called What Your _______ Grader Needs to Know (available on Amazon).
· Let your child pick some fun things to do. Scavenger hunts, games, puzzles, explore museums and zoos online and even watching child-friendly documentaries are all ways to learn but have fun at the same time.
· In case you are confused if you’re supposed to be doing school all day with your kids, no you aren’t! Older students may need more schoolwork time, but typically younger kids spend anywhere from 1-3 hours per day on their work. Now, I can’t say they won’t drag their feet and draw that time out!
You’ve got this
Truly, you do. You are in unprecedented times, sure, but we all are. And the wealth of homeschooling information and guidance is just pouring out. Everywhere you turn you will find people like me who really do want to help you find the best way to educate your child. All you have to do is ask!
~Jennifer Dodrill, History at Home
Hi, I’m Jen! I’m a homeschool mom, and I love to help homeschoolers and educators of all kinds find great curriculum and learn more about educating our kids. I have 13 years of homeschooling under my belt and just graduated our baby! I teach Oral Communication as an adjunct instructor, I’m a freelance writer, and I write curriculum under History at Home at TeachersPayTeachers. When I’m not working, I’m spending time with my kids and adorable granddaughters. Follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram, and my Blog!
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