Monday, August 16, 2010

The Blog Cruise - Thinking about Homeschooling? New Homeschooler? Here is some advice from a Veteran.


Welcome to my home... my home on the web. Grab a cup of tea... Iced tea if it is as hot where you live as it is here. I'd like to have a chat with you. Are you thinking of homeschooling? Are you a new homeschool mom? I Free Emoticons to talk with homeschool mom's. Just a couple of weeks ago I talked with a homeschool mom at our church. She started homeschooling way before I did. Her youngest is now 24 and it has been a number of years since she homeschooled. She said she still misses it. She said she thinks she still has some curriculum at her house and that she still likes to look at new curriculum. She says every year at this time when mom's are starting out their homeschool year she misses doing that. Free Icons New books. A new year. A new start. New crayons and other school supplies. I love those things too. Free Avatars I wish you could sit down with me and chat. I could find out what questions you have and share about those things. Since I cannot ask you, I will just go with what I think is important and some "often asked about" topics.
Some of my local homeschool friends call me the Resource Queen. Free Smiley Courtesy of www.millan.net  I have been homeschooling for 20 years. I am a veteran as I said in my title... but I don't feel like an expert. We all have things we can learn from each other. Please don't get overwhelmed by the volume of links I will share. Read some and then bookmark this post and come back and read some more if you need to. Or, download the post and save it as a pdf on your desktop and refer to it often. If you keep my blog title in the parts you copy it should direct you back to my website from the pdf if you need to come back.

Some of the Advantages of Homeschooling
  • Home schooling makes quality time available to train and influence children in all areas in an integrated way. Combining Subjects and children to stretch the younger. Reading books that are above their reading level but not above their interest level. Leaving out the twaddle.
  • Each child receives individual attention and has his unique needs met. Parents can provide a curriculum which is perfect for their individual family and for each child. Mom has a better teacher/child ratio than public or private schools. She also knows what special needs for encouragement, restraint, or prodding are a part of each of her children’s personalities.
  • It gives you much more influence over the development of their values. We can create in our homes a worthy standard, a system of beliefs about what is good, and valuable, and worthy. We can daily train our children to be all we want them to be in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Parents can control destructive influences such as various temptations, negative peer pressure, and unsafe environments. Children can be enjoy being children longer because they don't have the negative peer pressure to conform to the world's standards.
  • Children gain respect for their parents as teachers. Communication between different age groups is enhanced. Both communication with parents and with others of many different ages.
  • The family experiences unity, closeness, and mutual enjoyment of one another as they spend more time working together. Brothers and sisters can truly grow to be best friends.
  • Children develop confidence and independent thinking away from the peer pressure to conform and in the security of their own home.
  • Children have time to explore new interests and to think. You can tailor their education to their strengths and deal with their weaknesses in a way that will build them up instead of tear them down. You can take things slowly when needed and jump ahead, move faster through material, or skip things if needed. Tutorial-style education helps each child achieve his full educational potential.
  • Flexible scheduling can accommodate parents' work and vacation times and allow time for many activities. Take off in the fall or spring when everyone else is in school. Prices are lower, temperatures are cooler. Do school on the days that fit your schedule. When my hubby was working Saturdays and had Thursdays off we did the same with school. It sometimes made it difficult for the kids to play with friends but we worked around that.
You may see all those advantages and think I have perfect children. That is not true. They are a joy and a trial...depending on the day. They are normal sinful kids with a normal sinful mom. We have our struggles, but I would rather us struggle together than struggle apart from each other.

    Are parents qualified to teach their children?
    You know your children better than anyone else and have the deepest love and concern for them. Educationally, one-to-one tutoring has many advantages over a classroom where one teacher tries to meet the needs of many children at different learning levels. You do not need to know everything in order to teach. Your example and enthusiasm in learning with your children will motivate and encourage them. I learned much more homeschooling than I ever did in my K-college years. I began enjoying subjects that I never liked before.

    Is home schooling legal in every state?
    Each state sets its own laws governing home education. Meeting the requirements of these laws may be as simple as informing the school district of your intent to home school and having your children tested or as complex as fulfilling requirements to be a private school.

    For legal defense and assistance, contact Home School Legal Defense Association.  To qualify for membership, apply before you are contacted by any authorities regarding school attendance laws. HSLDA offers a free summary of your state's home-school law. HSLDA advises members of their rights, deals with school officials, and advocates the right of parents to teach their children at home in the courts, in congress, in state legislatures, and in the media.

    Several resources are available to give home educators on-the-job training:
    Home-school conventions, workshops, and book fairs at local, state, and regional levels provide practical instruction in teaching techniques. Check out the ones coming close to your area and go. Take your spouse and leave the kids home if you can. Here are three lists of homeschool conventions around the U.S. http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/calendar/events.htm
    http://www.squidoo.com/HomeschoolingConferences
    http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/cms_content?page=1140380&sp=1016&event=1016
    I am sure there will be similar lists for 2011. Check those sites or do a google search.

    There are also local homeschool support groups. It is great to meet with living, breathing mom's who are doing what you are doing. Some who have more experience than you and can give tips and advice along your journey. HSLDA has a page on their website for finding local homeschool groups. Check that out here if you need help finding a group. 

    Many web sites have articles that inform and encourage you in various principles and techniques of home teaching. Each of the web sites below has information that will aid you in homeschooling. Most of them have articles on how to homeschool covering many topics. There are also many more sites I could have listed. You will get hundreds of homeschool sites if you do a search on the web.
    What are some difficulties? The following are some common difficulties along with some suggested solutions.
    • Lack of confidence. At first you may lack confidence in choosing materials and methods, doubting your ability to teach. With research and experience you will gain confidence. You also need to depend on the Lord. If he called you to homeschool he will help you. He will guide you. Pray and trust and be faithful.
    • Fear of being unable to work with your own children. Parents who do not have their children's respect will have trouble getting their cooperation. Gaining their respect through proper relationships, discipline, training, and example should be the parents' top priority, whether or not they are home schooling. Home schooling can provide the incentive and optimum setting to accomplish this.
    • Inadequate time and energy. Home teaching requires an investment of time and energy, especially by mothers. Self-discipline and good organization will help ensure a well-run household. A daily schedule, teaching plan, and a chore list can keep school and housework organized. Children can also be a great help when trained to assist with the cooking, laundry, and household chores.
    • Too many activities. There is a tendency with homeschoolers to think the busier they are the better they are doing. Homeschoolers are notorious for being on the go all the time, burning energy and gasoline, faithfully making an appearance at every field trip, social outing, and science fair sponsored by the local support group. Every benefit has to be weighed against the cost. Is it worth taking that field trip which may take you away from home for the better portion of the day, spending an hour or two with children strapped in the car seat, the baby missing its nap, and supper not being ready to eat until late or stopping for something fast but not as nutritious as a homemade meal.  Is the trip necessary or could they learn the same things by reading a book or watching a video? You can’t home educate if you are never home. I am not saying don't do any outside activities, just evaluate, and limit them. Each family will have to make their own decisions on how much is too much. Ask you husband. Trust the Lord to lead you both in this decision.
    • Lack of commitment. Families gain the strength to overcome difficulties when they develop the conviction that home schooling is best for their family.
    • Peer pressure. Yes, adults can have it too, it is not just a teen thing. Pressure from well-meaning friends or relatives can be a real deterrent. Make a well-informed decision and then stand on your convictions. More information and a loving attitude often help others understand and accept the home-school family. With some people you will seem to be a threat. If you have a conviction about teaching your children at home and someone else does not, they may feel they have to do what you are doing. And it is much harder for them to keep on with the way they are choosing to have their child educated with you making them look bad. Some who oppose you will honestly want the best for you, and hopefully over time they will see the good points of you homeschooling. My family was not encouraging as first. We won them over. I now have extended family that are homeschooling their children and their parents were not supportive of us at first.
    • Financial investment. Costs of materials or programs vary considerably, but are always less than a private school. Many materials can be reused for siblings. Many things can be bought used and or resold later.
    • Need for a break. If you are taking your children out of school they may experience withdrawal symptoms. If your child was having a hard time in school they may take off almost immediately and love homeschooling when you take them out. Other children may be in shock for a while because of the sudden change, the loss of favorite extra-curricular activities or the effects of bullying he may have experienced while in school. He may also have trouble seeing you as parent and teacher and cause trouble because “we didn’t do it that way in school”. Stand firm and be patient. Do some fun things as school for a while and don't start right in with text books and workbooks. Do a few field trips. Read books together. Go to the library and let them pick something to read and study about. Play an educational game. Plant or work in the garden. Take a nature walk. Tell them all these things count as school. Ask your children to give homeschooling their best and try it your way.
    What about my child's special interests?
    A wealth of experiences inside and outside the home can supplement and enrich home education. Find out what interests your child and do what you can to make it available to him for school. My boys love building.... we bought Legos, Lego Mindstorms and K'nex Science kits (see pictured on the left) among other things. Unlimited possibilities abound for field trips that individual families or groups can take. Specialized classes and clubs are often available through parks, museums, art schools, homeschool groups or private teachers. Homeschool, church and community teams offer various sports opportunities. There may actually be more enrichment activities and time in which to do them available for home-taught students than for those in school. Don't get too involved though or you will be back to the... "to many activities" problem that I described earlier.

    How do we get started in home schooling? Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

    1. Agree as husband and wife on your decision to home school. In general, if the husband and wife do not agree then homeschooling should not be attempted. It is a hard job and wives will need their husband's support. If the wife does not want to homeschool do you think she will do a good job? If a husband does not want the wife to homeschool their children do you think she should? A wife should submit to her husband and pray. Husband's you should pray to that God would soften her heart. If God wants you to homeschool then he can change your spouses heart better than you ever could.

    2. Research home education.
    Read one or two basic books on home education, at the least. I try and read a new book on homeschooling each summer, even after 20 years of homeschooling. I also try and re-read one of my favorites each summer. Check out my book list below, check your library and check out the section of Homeschool Helps in the Rainbow Resource Catalog. Try some of the sites with articles I listed below. Meet and visit with experienced home schoolers at a local support group. Meeting homeschoolers face to face is important, you will need them for emotional support. Make an effort to attend your state's home-school convention.

    3. Contact your state home-school organization to learn of local support groups, events, and publications.


    4. Make arrangements to comply with the law.
    I suggest contacting and joining Home School Legal Defense Association.


    5. Get your home and life in order.
    Establish discipline in child training and your use of time. One of the most common causes of home-education burnout is undisciplined children. Also, get rid of unnecessary or little-used possessions to make way for learning materials and study space. This is an ongoing process. Homeschooling will not only challenge the character of your children it will cause you to grow too. Getting rid of the clutter is an ongoing thing too. If you use it, keep it... if you don't, pass it on to others who may. Also, be ready for homeschooling to take over the house. We have homeschool materials EVERYWHERE!  White boards in the dining room. Book cases,and boxes of books that won't fit on the bookcases, in every room but the bathroom...hmmm maybe I should try and fit one in there. Get ready for the homeschool invasionFree Smiley Courtesy of www.millan.net You will love it as much as I do... I promise.

    6. Choose methods and teaching materials that you feel comfortable with.
    What you start out with will probably not be what you end up. Not only does your knowledge grow but your children will grow and change. What method will be appropriate to the age and number of your children and the way you want to teach? You may want to look at curriculum at a homeschool convention or maybe you can look at what a friend is using. Remember though that each family, each child is different. What your friend uses may not be what is best for you.

    You may have already done extensive research, know exactly where you’re headed and be able to just shop around and put together an individualized program with things from all over. However, if you feel overwhelmed by the choices you must make, you may want to use a prepared curriculum from a textbook, worktext, or unit study publisher for your first year. Remember, whatever book you’re using to teach whatever subject, you can decide what to use and what to "throw out." That book was not necessarily made especially for your child. If your child does not need twenty practice problems in his math don’t make him do them all. On the other hand if he needs more help and teaching on a certain subject don’t feel you have to move on until he gains mastery, especially in Math. Let your child's aptitude set the pace. In kindergarten both my boys completed page upon page of their math curriculum. They wanted to do more and more pages. They finished their Kindergarten math in a month or two and then went on to the first grade math. Later when doing their math that contained a lot of practice on the same kinds of problems I let them do every other one. Any package program you buy will contain some things you don’t need at all and some things you can replace with resources you like better. You may also want to add to the package curriculum, with more living books on the subject for instance.

    Re-evaluating and experimenting with different curriculum and methods is to be expected especially when you first start homeschooling. You will make adjustments as you gain experience. You may end up selling what you bought this year because it did not work. That is ok. You can also buy used things that others are selling because they are done with them or it did not work for them. One of the great things about homeschooling these days is that there is so much out there both new and used.

    Remember children learn in spurts, not at a steady pace, and the spurts come at different times, in different subjects, for different children. How do you know whether your child really isn’t ready for something or if he’s just being lazy? If he is not lazy about other things, he’s probably not being lazy about the problem subject. If he complaines and shirks his chores, then you should carefully consider whether that subject is to hard or if it is just laziness. If he is doing the other things you require of him willingly enough than you might want to check out other resources for teaching that or come back to it in 3-6 months when he has matured a little more.

    7. Encourage Useful Habits
         Regular habits that minimize stress, save time, and provide other benefits include grooming and health habits, courteous behavior and speech, concentration on studies, and initiative and thoroughness in chores.

    8. Require Family Teamwork
    Each member of the family can make a contribution to the success of the whole. Toddlers can pick up toys, young children can do simple chores, older ones can take on larger responsibilities, teenagers and some preteens can help with teaching, and parents can encourage, support, and help each other.

    9. Create a positive Atmosphere
         A positive atmosphere of mutual love and respect makes teaching and learning more effective. Parents' understanding attitudes foster parent-child interaction.

    10. Be Involved in all aspects of your children’s lives.
         Children learn best from parents who are closely involved with them in work, play, conversation, study, and all of life.

    11. Be an Example
         It is important for parents to model good character traits, disciplined habits, and enthusiasm for learning. Parents also need to supervise and/or limit children's exposure to poor examples in TV programs, books, and worldly neighbors.

    12. Provide many Experiences
         Varied experiences such as shopping, errands, home repairs, nursing home visits, trips to local museums and work places, and out-of-town excursions build the background knowledge for academic learning.

    13. Discover what Motivates your child.
         Parents can use a child's curiosity, needs, and interests to motivate learning. If they are interested in a topic they may be more willing to dig in and do the hard work of reading a book a little above their reading level, for instance. You can stimulate new interests through reading, conversation, questions, and family activities.

    14. Develop your Children’s Thinking Skills
         Parents need to ensure children are developing the skills of thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving. Children also need to learn how to study and learn on their own. Besides curriculum materials that contribute to these goals, parents can design questions and projects to stimulate such growth. Talk with your child about what he is reading and learning, helping him process things.

    15. Require Mastery
         In developing the foundational skills of reading, language, and math, children need to thoroughly master some concepts before others. (This does not apply as much to subjects such as history, literature, and science in which topics can be studied in any order.) Children must review frequently in all subjects to be sure learning is retained.

    16. Keep some much used resources on hand.
         Educational resources that can be used repeatedly include reference books (encyclopedia, dictionaries, thesauruses, atlases, nature guides, etc.) and higher-level textbooks. Also collect aids such as time lines, maps, globes, pictures, charts, videos, and tapes; manipulatives for math or other subjects; educational games and software; and various tools. These will be used over and over by all your children. It is good to have things on hand and not just rely on the Internet all the time. Free Smiley Courtesy of www.millan.net

    17. Teach Life Skills
         Life skills include budgeting; cooking; shopping; driving; repairs; maintaining a house, yard, and car; banking; voting; and finding information by phone, letter, or Internet. Children receive training and practice in these skills as they work with parents. When able, older children may take responsibility for entire areas, thus rehearsing for adult life. We stress this in our family. What good is it if a father can do high level math if he can't cook a meal when his wife is sick. Life skills are as important as knowledge and can help your children save money by learning to do things for themselves so they don't have to hire help for maintaining cars and homes or for sewing clothing and doing other home decorating.

    18. Begin building your home library. That is a whole other post. Start small. Keep track of what you buy so you don't buy 2 of the same books unless you want 2. Buy living books not twaddle. Buy used. Build it over time. Here is a good definition and some more help on buying Living Books.

    Recommended Reading for Mom (and Dad) - Books on How to Homeschool and Homeschool Helps
    I hope I did not overwhelm you too much. Much of this information was taken from talks I have done for our local homeschool support group and homeschool conferences where I was a speaker.

    I urge you to also check out the tabs at the top for pages on my Favorite websites and groups, Freebies, the Resources for 2010-2011 school year, and the other pages too.

    If you have questions about homeschooling, questions about the books listed (I have read every single one), or comments about my post please leave a comment.

     The Blog Cruise is a Carnival where the members of the TOS Review Crew that want to participate write answers to weekly questions. We answer the questions on our blogs and then the links to the blogs are collected on the Crew Website. To read the advice my other crew members shared check out The Old Schoolhouse Blog Cruise.

    10 comments:

    Michele said...

    Great post!!! Thank you for taking the time to give us all of this wonderful information! Very informative and heartfelt. I really miss you <3

    Kelly said...

    That was just awesome! Thanks for sharing. I plan on coming back to truly digest all of your ideas and links.

    Guiding Light said...

    Ok...all I can say about this post is - WOW! I mean, DOUBLE WOW! AWESOME! Thank you! Here with the crew but it is only our 2nd year homeschooling so still LOTS to learn. Thanks for this wonderfully informational post!

    Julie Coney said...

    great article! i will be back for some of those links!

    Laura O said...

    Wow, Debbie! Resource Queen you are with such a thorough post on things to consider when homeschooling (whether starting out or just starting a new year!)

    Our Village is a Little Different said...

    Whoa.. what a great post! Thanksfor all the good advice and the links, and especially the willingness to share all of your veteran wisdom.

    Vickie said...

    My veteran years aren't as long as yours....yet...but what a boat load of wonderful encouragement, advice and links!! When I have a newbie, I'll give my .02 of advice and then direct them here :)

    God's Blessings

    Jodi said...

    WOW~ Debbie, you put so much thought into this post! What excellent advice from a veteran,and I loved all the pics too! Great job! Thanks for participating in the Blog Cruise this week!

    Confessions Of A Homeschooler said...

    Great post! Thanks for sharing :o)

    Online Art School said...

    This was very interesting to read I believe this blog to be one of the greatest and most interesting out there.

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