How Homeschool Parents Cope With The Changes in Their Lives This Year
Books and Products to Consider
I've read this. It's a true story by a mom who took her daughter out of school to homeschool for one year. I don't always agree with her, but it's an honest look at a hard decision.
I've always said the purpose of the first year is to make all your mistakes. However, if you are a temporary homeschooler, the first year is all you have and you don't want to spend it making mistakes. Of course, you'll make some--nothing ever runs perfectly--but you want to make as few as possible.
I'm going to suggest a few of the most common homeschooling mistakes we make the first year. I'm hoping others will chime in on the blog discussion about homeschooling mistakes so we can come up with some more. Choose a few you think you might make and work to avoid them.
1. Making it about you and not your child. No one believed I was capable of homeschooling. I was smart enough and nerdy enough, but I have learning disabilities and ADD. I was not organized and I couldn't do math. I got really focused on proving I could do it and that was not the way to homeschool. It was about me. It was supposed to be about my children and making sure they got a great education. While you have to worry about meeting the requirements, you don't have to prove anything else to anyone. Do what is best for your child and your family.
2. Choosing a popular method instead of the best method for you. I started out okay, but then I got online and people made fun of structured homeschooling and...I tried to do it "right." The trouble is that "right" isn't for me. I love planning lessons and I need a schedule and structure. Unschooling might be popular, but for me, it's just not the right method. I needed to homeschool my way, not the popular way. Choose what feels right and gets results and ignore those who try to make you do things their way (even me).
3. Being so tied to your schedule you aren't flexible. I need a schedule, but there are times it doesn't work. If your child didn't learn to multiply in the three weeks you scheduled for it, take another week...or more. If you all wake up tired and cranky, take the day off. (You can't take every day off, but take some off. It's an official homeschool perk.) Keep track of the unofficial learning you do and get a little ahead so you can afford to do this. One year, we went to Disneyland once every single month on a school day...and still finished ahead of the schools. Those are the days your kids brag about homeschooling.
4. Making it too fancy. I have a passion for overly complicated homeschooling lesson plans I can't possibly carry out. If you make it too fancy, you will burn out in a hurry. An ocassional fancy plan is fine, but most of the time simplify. This one year you are giving your child as a gift should not be stressful--save time for having fun. Your child won't learn about dinosaurs better if you stay up all night buidling a life-size replica of one for him. In fact...he'd have more fun building it himself.
5. Not simplifying life. You can't put something into your life until you take something out. If you're adding homeschooling, take out some other things. Sweep under the bed less often, drop a few activities, whatever it takes to make life doable. Don't let anything interfere with your school day--turn off phones and put a school-in-progress sign on the door. Make life as free as possible for this one year.
6. Not personalizing to the child's learning styles and abilities. Since my kids were ahead in most areas, I tried to give them work that was just a little ahead. It took a school evaluation for me to find out I was still not giving them enough challenge. If your child is behind, work where he is, not where you think he should be. If he hates the silly childish reading book, don't use it. When I tutored, I discovered my students could read about two years above grade level if I let them choose the book. Who says you can only learn to read from a textbook? If your child can't sit still, put action into the lesson. If he learns best by drawing, let him draw what you're teaching him. If he cares mostly about airplanes, make everything airplane-related. We all learn faster when we do it our way.
7. Not involving the entire family in the plan. Homeschooling works best when the non-teaching parent is part of the decision-making process and even teaches something fun on weekends or evenings. (If he or she likes woodworking, the parent can teach that as an elective, for instance.) It also works best when the children have some say in how school will work. If you have a do-it-yourself curriculum, let them help decide what to study in some areas. If you buy a curriculum, let them help choose it. If you have choices about how to learn a subject, let the child have a say in it. One year, one of my children was obsessed with basketball. I gave her a list of the types of papers she had to write, but let her write them all on basketball. As it turned out, writing the same paper in a lot of different ways turned out to be a pretty educational experience. But I realized what mattered was learning to write those kinds of papers--topics weren't important.
8. Collecting too much information and too much advice. I am an information addict. I collect tons of information and advice and then get overwhelmed. I end up jumping around all over the place. Treat all advice as suggestions you don't have to take and don't collect too much of it. That's why this site is only hitting the basics--you only have this year. Don't get overwhelmed.
9. Forgetting to have fun. This year should be fun. Goof off a little, study something silly (like the history of chocolate or the lifestyles of dragons), laugh at your mistakes, let your children memorize poetry while standing on their heads...whatever makes this year memorable. Create memories--fun ones.
10. Forgive yourself. You'll make mistakes. It's inevitable. Remind yourself you did the best you could with what you knew. Move on. Everything will work out. (Link to the next article is after the math suggestion.)
by Educational Insights
I've never tried this, but I'm thinking it would be a great way to visualize math and to make it more hands-on. I'd see it as great for a child with learning disabilities or a young child who doesn't write well yet.
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