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Homeschooling is a Lot of Fun!
I'm learning with my son!
After years of counselors, teacher meetings, trips to the principal's office to take my son home I was dreading middle school in a new town. After looking into local private schools and deciding the cost wasn't something I could manage. I decided to give homeschooling a chance.
I was really nervous and unsure of my own ability to teach. After a year I have gained a stronger relationship with my son and greater confidence in my own and in his abilities. I've discovered that learning together is a lot of fun.
I want to write about our experience and what works for us to get as much information out into the world as I can. I have found helpful advice from many sources and I hope to become one for others.
Many Ways to Learn
You Wont Always Know it is Happening
Homeschooling is such a great opportunity for your children. You want to provide them with a great education and a safe atmosphere. It's possible, but it does take effort. You have to make sure you're prepared in order to provide this experience.
Steer clear of lecturing as part of homeschooling. Don't approach it like you need to replicate that style of classroom learning! Instead focus on experiences and discussions. You'll find you will learn things along the way with your children. Plus, it will bring you closer together as a family. The flexibility to fine-tune as needed has created a lot of opportunities for debate in my home. We openly discuss what needs to be adjusted. I believe this improves my son's confidence and communication skills. Flexibility is important but don't give up to easily. Be persistent. If you are trying to teach your children something, don't give up after one failed attempt. There is a time and a place to move on, but make sure you give it your best effort before you go back to the drawing board. Sometimes children just need to be exposed to something for a little longer before it "clicks."
Have fun! Even though schooling is serious, you can still have fun doing it. You may find that there are times you need to be stern to get your children to focus and pay attention. You will find, though, that the more fun you can throw into learning the more your kids will retain. When a person enjoys learning and associates study with fun, they will be able to learn about anything and have a better chance of success in whatever they choose in life.
One of the things that holds parents back from homeschooling is the myth that doing so will end up costing more than private school tuition. While some of the learning materials out there are in fact expensive, there are just as many affordable, effective resources available. The Internet is a valuable clearinghouse for workbooks, lesson plans and discounted texts to suit nearly any need and curriculum. In this case, at least, money shouldn't be the deciding factor. There are a lot of great free resources online and at libraries. These can be used as supplements or your entire program. I have found some great books on math I bought and I follow up with YouTube videos from Khan academy to reinforce the lessons. Over time and trial and error you will find what works best for your family.
Learning by Doing
Get Out There!
Get out into the world. A few people have expressed their belief to me that home schooled children are isolated. I haven't had that experience, but I think that is a choice some people consciously make. It doesn't have to be that way if you look for activities in your community, or you can create your own. Enrolling in local clubs, youth programs or summer sports is an easy way to ensure that children have an opportunity to build important social skills like sharing, teamwork and leadership. There is a great deal that can be learned from experiencing the world. This is actually one of the biggest perks of homeschooling. You are not limited to hours of working from a text book. You can instead bring your children to learn about the world first hand.
Opportunities to learn are all around and vary in cost and time investment needed. I happen to live in a very home-school friendly city and my son has attended art classes at a local museum, and science classes through a homeschooling group. I've found a lot of unexpected activities and locations to check out from our local paper. We started getting a subscription as part of social studies/ current events type studies and I have really been happy I made that decision. If a regular subscription is costly or inconvenient, weekly trips to the library for books and to peruse the paper would work just as well.
Take a Breath and Go For It!
It can be really overwhelming when you are beginning or even just thinking about getting started. Try to remember that even public schools don't hit every subject, every day. While math and reading are considered core curriculum, children may only have art once a week and something like science three times a week. Don't stress yourself out trying to get too much into your day. Experiment a little and find a schedule that works for you. Include your children in the planning and consider having discussions about what works and what doesn't from time to time. You may find as I have that it isn't just my child who is learning from all this.
Education resources on Amazon - Books, Programs, Kits
Many books, programs, and activity kits can be found on Amazon if you want to purchase some materials for your curriculum.