If you’re like me, whenever embarking upon a new endeavor, you do some pretty thorough recon. You may scour the internet, read up on an influencer in that field, or ask people who’ve already walked miles in the shoes you’re still trying to put on.
The first two installments of this blog series cover the “Why” and the “What” of homeschooling. If you’d like to learn more about that, you can check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this “Why Homeschooling” series and then meet me back here.
What I aim to do in this post is set a compass in the direction you may be headed. Its up to you to forge your own path. Here’s my take on how to homeschool.
Do this first:
When you set out to homeschool, its helpful to gain an understanding of the plethora of educational philosophies “out there”. This way, you begin formulating your own and can move forward in confidence. I found out about the greater world of homeschooling philosophies through Deborah Taylor-Hough’s book, “A Twaddle Free Education: An Instruction to Charlotte Mason’s Timeless Educational Ideas“.
Towards the end of this very practical book focused primarily on the Charlotte Mason Approach (to homeschooling), Taylor-Hough gives a brief history of modern homeschooling and unpacks some of the most popular homeschooling methods.
The family behind the Eclectic Homeschooling website has also laid out a pretty in-depth list of the various homeschool philosophies complete with resource lists! Check out their comprehensive overview here.
Now that you know what you believe about how people learn, it would be prudent to head over to your state’s department of education website to become familiar with any and all state homeschool regulations. Another helpful site to visit would be your own school district’s website. If there is a liaison whom you can contact directly about any necessary requirements to ensure everything checks out with your homeschool set up, this would be the time to do so.
Its’ Time to Find Your Curriculum:
Once armed with your educational philosophy and the specific regulations from your state, you can breathe more easily as you set about finding a curriculum.
Finding this needle in the ever growing curricula haystack can be whittled down so much easier when the curriculum you choose compliments your educational philosophy. You wouldn’t use wrench when all you really needed was a hammer.
I have found an invaluable cache of information in Rebecca Rupp’s book, Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School. In it is housed a catalog of curricula of all sorts that is unrivaled in comparison to any other similar lists I’ve seen! The thoroughness of the resources from preschool to high school will help you find the curriculum to best suit your family’s needs.
After You Find Your Curriculum:
After you find your curriculum, the next logical step is to organize it into some semblance of a schedule. One caveat I’d add is if you chose an Unschooling Approach (promoted by the late John Holt) back at the philosophy step, this scheduled layout might not exist at all.
If that’s the case, let me introduce you to Karla Marie Williams, an experienced homeschooling mom of six who knows a lot more about the beauty of unschooling than I do. Karla recently published the book, Homeschool Gone WILD: Inspired Learning Through Living. Its here that she better explains the Unschooling Approach to homeschooling.
However, if you’ve found that you landed on a path that allows for scheduled subjects and classes, this section is for you.
There are a host of planners, schedules, calendars and an other organizational tools available to assist you as you plan your days, weeks, months and school year. Any office supply store will have this. Shoot, even a Google search of “free homeschool schedule templates” would do the trick!
Its at this step that if you’re like me, you can get a bit creative with the lay out of things. The beauty of homeschooling is its yours to navigate and wield as you wish. Are you and your children of the “Early Bird Gets the Worm” persuasion? Then why not start promptly at 7 or 8 o’clock in the morning and get ahead on some extra daylight hours? But, if you and your kiddos are more of the “Snooze Button Crew” then you’re free to begin your day of structured learning later on.
One thing to remember as you plan your schedule is to take into consideration your state’s allowances for counting days versus counting hours. If your children are fairly young, then this requirement might not even apply to you.
I love, love, love the fact that in my state, I’m free to count days because the reality is that even if I only cover one subject for that day, it still counts as a school day. Now granted, we don’t take advantage of this by going all willy nilly, only doing recess everyday! LOL
But there are days in which due to illness or necessary appointments, our structured learning time is more flexible. And there’s always the road schooling approach in which you take your learning on the road. That’s a another blog post for another day!
Oh, and don’t forget about the glorious weekend! There are some days we attend a special program at our local museum or go to a cultural celebration down at the pier. These activities count towards days of school. My daughter also attends a book club once a month on Saturdays so I’m always sure to count this as well!
When Distractions Arise:
For those who have littles in the mix but they aren’t yet at the schooling age, there’s no doubt distractions will arise. For this reason, I’ve always appreciated how nap times are a prime opportunity to tackle the most important subjects. This way, my older kids have my undivided attention without little feet pitter pattering around.
But, if and when you can’t avoid younger siblings being around, why not allow them to take part (as much as they can) in the learning environment? This is both training for them for when they become of schooling age as well as a way to teach the older kids how to be loving, patient and present when possible distractions arise. It builds character. Not only that, the littles will most likely be excited to be “doing school” just like big brother or big sis. They get enthused about learning and to be honest, isn’t that the point of it all?
Last But Certainly Not Least:
The last thing I will say as this blog series comes to an end is the fact that homeschooling and its scheduling is meant to work for you so be creative and think through how to best utilize your time.
If and when you hit a wall, take time to evaluate what might be going on in the grand scheme of things. Has your family gone through a series of illnesses, is there tension within the home, have the kids been off their normal schedule, are your children having trouble grasping some newer concepts? These are all questions to get your wheels turning to discover what might be the source of the problem.
Also, something that freed me ALL the way up was the revelation that its okay to get mid way through the year only to have the realization that the curriculum you chose no longer works for your family.
Don’t be afraid to change things up.
Take a break.
Rework your goals for the year…sometimes less is more!
In all, no amount of time invested in your children is ever a waste. Your kids are always learning even when what may seem like a setback occurs.
Most important of all, have fun!!!
Thanks for reading and best wishes to you on a successful homeschool journey!
P.S. As 2018 comes to a close, and 2019 is right around the corner, I pray you and your loved ones experience joy, rest and all that is good in this coming year. For those who have subscribed to my little old blog site, I greatly thank you and for those who continue to lend your eyes to this journey my family and I are on, I thank you. Most importantly, I pray that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you may be rooted and established in love, and that you grasp how wide and how long, high and how deep is the the love of Christ (my paraphrase, Ephesians 3:14-21)!
Happy (early) New Year!!!
I’ll see you next year! 😉