Homeschooling your Child.
Making the decision to withdraw your child from school and educate at home is a big, big step. You will probably have been considering it for weeks or months, worrying, stressing, weighing up the pros and cons. Once that decision has been made you are almost there. Inform the school, send off the application forms, start to formulate a plan, it's a great feeling, you're on your way,
So what next?
Your First Homeschool Day
If you are anything like me, or the many other new homeschoolers I have been in touch with over the last two years, you will get up, feed the kids, get them washed and dressed, clear the decks and sit them at the table ready to do school.
Don't! Stop right there!
Your children are no longer in school, school at home is not what their education will now be about. It will be about learning all day, every day. Teaching is not involved, maybe facilitating would be a better word. Memorising and testing can now be a thing of the past. Their education can be about freedom, exploring the world their way. Your job is to gently take them by the hand and guide them, show them new things, show them how to obtain information, demonstrate ideas and concepts. Don't play teacher!
It can take months or years to find your groove, work out what methods work best for your family, you can choose unschooling, homeschooling, radical homeschooling, home education comes in many shapes and forms, you will find your way, given time.Don't worry, it doesn't matter, you are no longer on the artificial school schedule. People usually find that their kids are way ahead of their school age peers no matter what. Even if you choose to duplicate the school curriculum at home, you can do so on as little as an hour a day. Your children will not be missing out.
Deschooling before Homeschooling
Deschooling is a fancy term that has been invented to describe the process of unlearning everything you ever learnt about the nature of education. It's about losing that school mindset, for mum and the kids, dad too, dads sometimes take longer! The kids need to relax, destress, forget about grades and expectations. If they have been in school they may well have developed a dislike for learning, they may have little confidence and feel that they aren't good enough. That's tragic, small children branded as inadequate because they weren't performing as well as their class mates. Time for mum to get in there and boost those egos, show them how clever they really are. All children are different, they develop at different times and it's all normal.
I would strongly recommend doing nothing remotely like school for a few weeks or months. Take them out, play, visit museums,zoos, galleries, playgrounds, amusement parks, anything. Visit friends and family, cook and shop with them, let them draw, paint, make things whenever they like, maybe even start their own garden. Fill them up with joy and love and reconnect as a unit, happy kids make great learners and they will be learning, the whole time.
Don't worry about filling their afternoons with after school activities. most of us do, worried that they need to be around children their own age. They don't, they'll be fine and these classes aren't very social, they are more like school. Sure, if they desperately want to do ballet, ping pong and drama, go for it, but don't feel you have to, you have plenty of time. I know my children would far rather ride their bikes at the moment than be involved in all this stuff, and that's the goal, happy kids!
Homeschool Resources, Work Sheets and Online learning
Work sheets are everywhere you look on the internet, as a new homeschooler you'll probably be so amazed by what is out there that you'll spend every waking moment researching, lesson planning and printing worksheets. I did. I still have them, a whole file full. I'll probably never use them.
There are many, many on line learning programmes, some more expensive than others. Check them out, use the free trials, but think carefully before you subscribe. Do you really need them? They seem like an easy option, the computer makes sure your child is doing what is expected of them. My children quickly learnt to hate them after the initial novelty wore off. I'm not saying they were a total waste of money, they did their job for a while, but I won't be signing up again.
My favourite resources, tried and tested, are toys, fun books and games. Just playing a board game with your child is great fun for them, they love being with mum, it can also be "school".
TV, videos and You Tube are fantastic resources, who says TV isn't educational? It can be whatever you make it, there are so many ways of using visual media to tie in with whatever the child is learning about, not just documentaries, movies too, they all have content that will get ideas into small heads. Don't overlook the schools TV programmes, some of them can be quite good but there is a tendency to dumb down. Children are often capable of far more than schools offer.
Computer games can also be part of a child's education, anything involving building will be technology, these sorts of games usually involve maths too. Any game that involves scoring will bring on numeracy tremendously and the desire to read on screen instructions might just be the catalyst needed to make your child read.
Enjoy Learning Together!
You will find yourself learning alongside your child, you may find yourself fascinated by art history or languages, maybe you didn't do these subjects in school, I didn't, I was a scientist, I didn't have the option of studying arts. Don't worry that you don't know enough about a subject to "teach" it. If you can't answer a question, look it up on the internet together.Your children won't have these artificial limitations put upon them, they won't be labelled as scientists or artists, they can learn about whatever they like. They will, I hope, go on learning, discover that it's fun, that is what life long learning is all about.
Good luck with your shared homeschool journey, it's a fantastic way of living and learning.
Some related links
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- My Best Homeschool Resources Ever
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- More Posts About Homeschooling, Unschooling and Deschooling
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