If You Want To Homeschool Consider These Ten Tips
To Jump, or Not to Jump . . .
October 6th, 2014 was the first step our family took towards educational independence. This date marks our first official day as a homeschooling family. While we have thoroughly enjoyed our freedom, I won't lie--for me, that initial jump was scary. Dare I say, like . . . bungee jumping!
Imagine having the desire to take on a new, adrenaline pumping adventure such as bungee jumping, but never having the guts to follow through with it. Picture yourself standing on the edge of a bridge waiting to make this jump for the very first time. You've completed your research. You've found the best guide to help you make the jump safely. You're harnessed tightly into your gear. You're ready to go.
All that is left to do is jump . . . But you can't go through with it. Your heart begins to race, and your legs begin to shake. I don't know if I can do this. Why am I doing this? What am I likely to gain by making this jump? You may even begin to hear small voices of those around you who do not support this bold adventure you are taking on. You slowly step back a few steps towards safety. Fear has officially taken over your mind and body. Do you regroup and make the jump? Or, do you back down?
You might be wondering what bungee jumping has to do with homeschooling. Nothing, really, except for the fact that many of the questions and emotions one might ask themselves prior to bungee jumping are similar to the many questions and emotions that go through a parent's mind when deciding whether homeschooling is right for their family. I know I asked myself all of these questions, plus more! I had some serious built-up self doubt. And, even though I was not making the jump into homeschool physically, I was in fact making that jump mentally and emotionally. Like many parents, I seconded guessed myself quite a bit--Should I be doing this? Am I capable of doing this? What if I am not teaching the right curriculum? Am I going to fail my children?
I backed away from the edge of the bridge. There were too many questions lingering in my mind. I simply wasn't ready. Like the inexperienced bungee jumper, I began doing my research. I found a wonderful support group full of experienced homeschoolers who were willing to answer all of my questions and support me along the way. Within a week I had gained enough confidence to walk out on that ledge and make that jump into homeschooling--and I have not looked back.
Ten Tips For Those Considering Homeschooling
One of the challenges most potential homeschoolers face is not having enough information or support to help them make the transition. After doing a little research I found a blog post written in 2013 titled, 9 Tips For First-Time Bunjy Jumpers that I feel easily relates to homeschoolers. These tips serve as inspiration for the pointers I have put together for those of you who need a little support in making that jump. Here they are:
- Know Who You Are Jumping With - Making the decision to homeschool should not be taken lightly. Often times, parents search their state Department of Education website looking for "how to" information regarding homeschool. Unfortunately, many times the information provided on these websites is not up to date with state homeschooling laws. Therefore, it is important to get connected with other families who already know the ins and outs of homeschooling law and compulsory requirements for your state.
- Believe In Yourself - This is a big one. Lack of faith in one's self is a pretty common obstacle to overcome in deciding to homeschool. However, it is important to remember that no one knows your child better than you. You have been teaching your child since birth. You've taught your child to walk and talk. You've taught your child to hold a fork, drink from a cup, and pick up his toys. The truth is that children soak up knowledge like little sponges. If you can figure out which learning style works best for your child, you're golden. Believe in yourself because you can absolutely do this.
- Don't Believe The Myths - One common misconception to homeschooling is that there are some strict guidelines that you must follow in order to do it "the right way." What is the right way, and who was blessed with the job of saying that "this way" is the right way? That's right . . . YOU! You are the lucky one blessed with the opportunity to decide what and how your child learns. Do your research. Try different styles. Choose the method that works best for you and your children. Another myth is that you have to have a ton of money to homeschool your children. This is absolutely not true. Many homeschooling families rely on the library and other free resources on the internet. We are living in a world where technology is at our fingertips--use that to your advantage and you will come up with plenty of resources to help you along the way.
- Be Adventurous - This one is sometimes tough. I do not have years of homeschooling experience to back me up, but it does not take long to realize that you have to bring a sense of adventure into your homeschool. Last winter I took my children to visit the aquarium in a neighboring state and we ended up lost. I do not like being lost, so I was quickly irritated with the situation. Even though we eventually made it to our destination I quickly realized that I had lost out on the opportunity to teach my children a life lesson. I don't know where my sense of adventure was on that day--I suspect it was back at home snoozing under the warm blankets. You're not striving for perfection with every move you make, but do try to remember to make the most of each negative situation (as best as you can) because life is one giant lesson and our children are watching and learning from our actions and reactions.
- Bring A Friend - It is important to have a strong support system when you make the decision to homeschool. Whether that support system is provided by family, friends, or homeschool groups having a strong support system is vital to your success. If there is a local homeschooling convention coming up, or perhaps you are interested in learning about a co-op, have someone in your support group help you come up with a list of questions. Or, better yet, ask someone supportive of your journey to tag along! Extra Tip: As your students get older including them in some of the decisions you make will help them feel involved and like they have a voice in the matter.
- Trust The Jump Master - Who is the jump master? Well, the jump master could be me. Or, it could be you. The jump master could be the support group you've joined. The point here is to not second guess every single thing that comes up. If you do, you'll never take that leap. With some things, like compulsory requirements for your state, it is important that your sources are reputable. In most circumstances however, you just have to have confidence in yourself.
- Choose Your Surroundings Carefully - This could have many different meanings. On one had this could be referring to your homeschool environment--the place where most of the work will be completed. Some homeschoolers have designated work spaces, whereas some work wherever they feel the most comfortable or inspired that day. Whatever you decide, make sure that your work space suits your needs. Another situation is one that most homeschooling families are faced with at some point or another. The dreaded, "Do you really think you can provide your children with a better education than public school can?" This type of scenario comes up all of the time. Whether it be a nosy stranger making inquiries, a friend quizzing your child, or a family member who thinks your children are doomed because they aren't "properly socialized," it is important to remember NOT to appease these people. Ignore the negative comments by choosing your surroundings carefully. The last thing you need is a confrontation with someone who refuses to research the other side of the argument.
- What To Wear - This is pretty simple. Wear whatever you want! Also, let your child decide what he or she will wear. If your five year old wants to learn lessons while wearing a superhero costume, let him. There is no dress code in school--let your kids tap into that inner creativity if they choose to. Extra Tip: Sometimes reading books or playing games is much more fun for kids when done from inside a blanket fort. Don't worry about the mess. Don't ask why. Roll with it and have some fun with learning.
- Be Prepared To Get Hooked - Yes! This one is one of my favorite tips because once you are in the homeschool frame of mind you will be surprised at how quickly you are turning everything into a learning experience. The next time you need to go to the grocery store take your child with you. Give your child a piece of paper, a pencil, and a budget--have your child plan a healthy dinner for the night. Without any effort at all you will have taught your child math, health, spelling, and writing. Pretty cool, huh?
- Own It! - I've saved the best for last! You don't have to have a fancy curriculum, or a top notch plan to be a successful homeschooler. Sometimes you don't even need a plan. Some days I'm structured. Other days we wing it because life happens and that's just what we have to do to get through. My boys are middle schoolers, so they are going to begin taking leaps in their education by being more accountable for their learning. Just remember to figure out what you want to gain from this opportunity and make it happen because you can do this. Believe in yourself. Trust in yourself. Own it!
There you have it. If someone had told me that I would someday be homeschooling my children, I probably would have laughed in disbelief. Even though our homeschooling journey is still fairly new compared to some others, I am blessed to be a part of my children's education. I'm not only proud of the progress we have made together as a family, but I'm proud of the progress I have made as an individual. Use as many, or as little, of these tips as you begin your journey. Just remember to own it!
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© 2016 KM Frantz