Do you find that the very thought of homeschooling sends shivers down your spine? Does your head start to spin? Are your children so rambunctious that you can’t picture them sitting quietly to read and learn at home without driving you crazy? If so, you are not alone. Many parents feel inadequate, overwhelmed, or just plain too tired to even contemplate the notion of homeschooling. However, these are the same parents that notice the drastic, negative change of our public education in this country, and they feel stuck. Is that you?
Well, take a breath, and let me guide you into the wonderful ocean of homeschooling.
We know that it is possible for us to swim, but only a select few decide to jump in. Homeschooling is a way of life. It is a conscious choice to be ultimately responsible for your child’s entire education, but take heart and remember that your responsibility lies only in providing opportunities, materials, and guidance. It is really your child’s responsibility to learn. In a very different environment, which is a significant reason for choosing to homeschool, your child’s performance will improve. They will be able to learn at their own pace and in less time, and they will be free to explore topics that interest them rather than having to follow a set curriculum that may be of no interest at all. Children are naturally curious and desire to learn, if given opportunities and encouragement. Also, hands-on experiential learning is a big plus with homeschooling, too.
For example, my son loves the ocean, so recently he has been watching Blue Planet. He is motivated to complete his other work early, just so he can watch. He took his love of the ocean a bit further and has made a diorama of the layers of the ocean, has drawn numerous pictures, and is asking many questions that I am desperately trying to answer. I suppose my son’s current interest in oceans put my mind on oceans and navigation to the point that I am using that theme for this article. It is interesting that I don’t have to direct all of his learning but can expose him to various things and let him show me what he is curious to learn about at times. If you allow your child to explore his interests, he will learn more about the topic and have a zest for his learning. Best of all, he will be learning how to learn. Imagine having a child that is an independent learner! That’s the making of a leader or certainly a survivor.
If you aren’t sure how to sail, just ask a sailor to help you. Anyone can homeschool. It doesn’t matter if you have a doctorate or never graduated high school. All you need is patience, a good attitude, and the willingness to seek out resources you feel will fit how your child learns. There are great books and resources, specifically for homeschooling. Some communities have homeschool coops for activities, such as field trips, sports, and the arts. If you aren’t very good at math, find a math tutor. There are many retired teachers willing to share their knowledge with the younger generation. If your child loves cars, find a mechanic that is willing to teach him. Maybe he could even work out an apprenticeship. Homeschooling has been around since the beginning of humanity. Parents have always taught their children how to survive, which is homeschooling. I am a college graduate, but that hasn’t really helped me in homeschooling my children. Patience is what I really need on a daily basis, and my children give me plenty of practice. Blaise Pascal, Alexander Graham Bell, Lousie May Alcott, Mozart, Tim Tebow, and Thomas Edison were all homeschoolers.
Get in the boat already! You are capable. Education is basically any knowledge base that helps a person develop in how they think, feel, and act. Did you teach your child how to tie his shoes? You were homeschooling. Did you teach your child a song you knew as a child? Well, then, you were homeschooling. Have you ever helped your child define a word? You were homeschooling. I never liked history in school. It was always just memorizing dates and names of people who were dead. After I began homeschooling my children, I began to love history. Now they do too. I found that history isn’t about dates and dead people; history is the subject that you can make come alive! So, that is what we do. We live history, and they are having fun while learning. You know what, I’m learning too.
You know that our public education system is broken and that your child can do better. You know that you can homeschool. The only question left is how do you do it.
- Find out what the homeschool requirements are for your state. [www.hslda.org]
- Withdraw your child from public school.
- Take a month of just spending time together and watch how your child learns– reading, listening, writing, application, hands-on, or some combination of these. During this month, read together, play games together, and go on some day trips to local museums or parks.
- Research various homeschooling methods, and then do what feels right to you.
- Start a thoroughly discussed, scheduled routine. All children appreciate a routine (even if they fight it). Your routine must include aspects of how your child learns. It must also take into consideration your need to know that he is learning. This one can be especially difficult if you have two strong-willed people that demand control– one is me; the other is my son. I like organization; he is all over the place. How do I solve this dilemma? I want to honor his out-of-the-box learning style, while keeping my need to stay organized. For us, work boxes helped tremendously in this battle. I get my organization; he gets to pick and choose what he wants to complete and in the order he desires. The best part is that he gets to go at his own pace, so if he has extra time in the day, he can pursue his heart’s desire.
Wait! The waves are a bit too high for me. I get it; you and your spouse work. So how can you possibly homeschool? I’m not going to tell you it will be easy, but it is possible. I know a couple that changed working hours so that one parent would be home to do the schooling on certain days and the other on other days. They switch out, as their work schedules allow. I also know a mom that entrusts another homeschooling mother to teach her child. There are also many companies popping up with retired (or jobless) teachers that run classes geared towards homeschoolers. You could send your child there twice a week for instruction. No one says that you have to have school Monday through Friday either. Maybe you can get school work done in four days with one of those days being on the weekend, when both parents are home. As the famous saying goes, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” It is true in this case. Public education is not the only way you can ensure your child gets a good education.
I can’t! There are too many ships out at sea. Too many children? Many different ages? You can do it, too. It will take a bit of trial and error on both your parts to find a rhythm that works for everyone. However, don’t try too hard to “make your children happy”, because they won’t be if you are miserable. Find what works for you, and then figure out how it will work for your child. Remember, he is still a child. He can help make some decisions, but he doesn’t get to make all of them. There are parents who simultaneously homeschool ten children, which are obviously of considerably different academic levels, from kindergarten through high school.
Some people say homeschooling is a no-brainer, while others really struggle. I’m here to say that I didn’t start out parenthood thinking I was going to homeschool my children. In fact, I was against it, but life has a funny way of guiding you to where you are meant to be. Is it difficult? Yes. Do I sometimes wish my children were in public school? Yes. Am I confident I made the right choice? Yes. Do I delight in watching my children learn? More than anything in the world!
You see, homeschooling is like a large blue ocean. Sometimes it will be beautiful and tranquil, while other times there will be wind and waves and possibly a squall. However, the sea always returns to calm after the storm. Sit back and look at the wide expanse of the ocean. There is a lot of water in which to sail. Choose where you want to sail, find your boat, learn how to sail it, and go.