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My Reason for Homeschooling
I never thought that I would be a homeschool mom. As a matter of fact, I had family members who homeschooled their children when mine were preschool age, and I couldn’t figure out why they would do it. I believed they should do what all the other kids did, that they needed the socialization of public school and how to figure the world out on their own.
That mindset changed a few years later with a number of incidents. First, my six year old asked me, “Why do I need to go to school anyway, I already now all this stuff?” Yes, he was right, school did come easy to him and he was quite bored during the school day. Then he had his teacher very worried because he wasn’t “socializing enough.” He was a quiet child who took the world in and didn't jump in right away. Well, by the end of first grade, his teacher was so happy on how he was fitting in. Now I don’t know how he acted in school but when he came home he was down right nasty to his little brother and not very pleasant to be around. Very much unlike the happy child that I had known at the beginning of the school year. So this “socializing” thing was not high on my priority list at that point. Then, he was still complaining about going to school as well. All the other kids were getting pulled out for reading and other special classes and he was told to read a book until the class came back together.
So I started to think about other options. Should I try to send him to another elementary school in our area - school choice. I really didn’t want to bother with the fight of the school politics. I had already talked to his teacher about challenging him more. All she said was, “we’ll see what they can do for him in second grade.” So, I started thinking about homeschooling. My family members had stopped homeschooling at that point but I did know friends who did it. And I figured that I couldn't mess him up too much since he was just going into second grade. So when the school year ended I broached the subject. My husband was all for it, so I asked my son. He was worried about not seeing his friends. I asked him if he really had much of a chance to play with his friends at school and told him he could always have them come over after school to play. I also told him that the school day would be shorter and then he could focus on learning what he wanted to learn and hang out with other homeschooled kids. I told him to think about it and we’d talk about it again at another time.
I was quite surprised when he came to me a couple of weeks later and told me he wanted to be homeschooled. I asked about his friends and he said that he didn’t really play with them except at recess and there were other friends that he could hang out with that didn’t go to that school. So we began our journey into homeschooling. In my mind, I was only going to try it for the year and then look at other options. I never expected to enjoy it so much. What a wonderful way to enjoy your children growing up.
Your Reason for Homeschooling
Everyone has different reasons for homeschooling. These include: religious, academic, family lifestyle, protection against the world, travel, etc. The list goes on and on. I did it because the school my son was in did not fit his learning abilities. Why waste time when there is so much to learn. I continued because I enjoyed teaching my children and watching them learn.
Everyone also teaches homeschooling in a different way, such as, set curriculum, unschooling, field trips, life skills, unit studies, etc. The great thing about homeschooling is, if it doesn’t work the way you’re doing it, it can be changed.
I was most comfortable, especially at the beginning, with a structured curriculum. I purchased the full second grade curriculum all from the same company and ran with it. It worked very well for us. As time went on, I found I could pick curriculum from all different companies. Mixing and matching curriculum made it easier to teach the way my children learned. And as I learned very quickly, they all learn differently. I only had two children to teach but the learning styles were extremely different.
We have done unit studies as well. For example, we went on vacation to a beach for a month and did a unit study on the ocean. It was a lot of fun and changed things up from the basic book curriculum. It was the only time we took such a long vacation during school but the point is you can change how you homeschool as life permits. Some people travel the country doing a combination of book studies and constant field trips.
My point is there is no set way to homeschool. It can be different for every family. It can be different every year.
So you want to try homeschooling! Where do you begin? First of all, you need to find out what the rules for your state or city are. Do you need to register with the city, submit the curriculum that your children are going to use or just send a letter in to let the city know your children will be schooling at home? Every state and city is different on how you need to proceed. We contacted the curriculum department in our city and found out that we had to fill out a form answering some basic questions about our schooling and make a detailed list of the classes we were teaching and the curriculum we would be using. We also had to tell how we would assess their progress. This needed to be done every year that we homeschooled.
The assessment process was easy for us. You can send in report cards for each child, you can submit a portfolio or you can test them each year using standardized tests. These are just a few options. The city just wants to be sure that they are progressing every year.
Another reason for sending in this information as they got older was so they could play sports for our cities public schools. Once they turn sixteen you don’t have to send in the paperwork, but you do if they want to play sports. Not every city has this opportunity for homeschoolers but we were glad that ours did. Both of our children played sports for the local high school. It was a great growing experience in many ways.
Which Curriculum should you use?
One of the hardest decisions to make is which curriculum to use, as there are so many available. You may even be able to get your cities curriculum through the Curriculum Department and use that.
I was set on what curriculum I wanted to use based on my son’s abilities for the first year. It worked great for him but as time went on I realized how much was out there and found other curriculum to be just as good if not better for where we were at.
When my second child started homeschooling, I found other curriculum worked best for him because his learning style was so different from his brothers.
The easiest way to check out the different curriculums is by going to a large homeschool convention. These conventions usually have many seminars on the different aspects and challenges of homeschooling and they have vendors selling their curriculum there as well. You can look through the curriculum and ask questions. I found this to be a great way to see what was out there.
Another way is to find other people in your area that homeschool and check out what they are doing.
Homeschooling books can add up to quite a bit of money, especially when you add in teacher books, workbooks, tests, answer keys, etc. There are many online resources that sell used curriculum to save you money. Just be sure to check which edition you are purchasing so that the tests and answer keys match. Some of you may even be able to make up your own tests and lessons which will save you even more. It all depends on how much time you want to spend on that sort of thing.