Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Request for Advice

We received a request for advice:

Anonymous said...
I am so afraid of failing my children,but I want so badly to homeschool them. How did you get over that fear?I have wanted to do this for the last two years,but the closer it gets to school starting I let people convince me I can't handle it.

Before I give my advice, you need to ask yourself if there is a valid reason not to homeschool. There are some cases where homeschooling is not a good idea. Here's my check list to determine if homeschooling is right for you?

This is my advice:

1. Do research. Read books on different homeschooling philosophies. Find a style that feels right to you. Educate yourself on child development. Much of public and private education is developmentally inappropriate regardless of the quality of the school.

2. Attend a homeschool conference. After we attended our first homeschooling conference (the year before we started homeschooling), I felt much less anxious about homeschooling. I could see that these successful homeschoolers were people just like me.

3. Find new friends. If all your friends send their children to public school and are critical of your choice to homeschool, you will feel anxious. This doesn't mean you cut these people out of your life, but it helps to surround yourself with people who can support you in your choice to homeschool. This is where a homeschool support group can be helpful. It took me years of attending homeschool park day before I felt comfortable. But now that I do, I have many resources available to me which make homeschooling easier. I have people I can talk to about different homeschooling struggles. I can see a variety of educational materials and hear how well they worked for other families.

4. Pray about it. (If you are not a praying sort, meditate or something like that.) Receiving an answer that "yes, this is the right thing for my family" makes the whole process easier. Everybody has bad days. If you have a personal "witness" that this is the right thing, than the bad days are easier to handle.

5. Expect a few bad days and growing pains. If your children have been in school for any length of time, they may not be overjoyed at the change. If the peer group is already more important to the child than his family, you could be in for a rough patch at first. You may be the one not happy with the change, if you've become accustomed to having most of the day to yourself while you kids are at school. Make the commitment to try it for a year, regardless of how bad it goes at first. Some things just take time.

6. Get your kids on board with idea. Ask your children what they are interested in learning. It is alright to let somethings fall by the wayside from time to time. For example, if the child is really excited about horses, then study horses. Incorporate math, writing, and science into the study of horses. Plan fun trips during the traditional school year to take advantage of short lines and good weather.

7. Rearrange some household chores, if necessary. This can take some pressure off of you. For example, my husband does all the laundry. He starts a load when he gets up in the morning. By the time he leaves for work, he moves that load into the dryer and starts another. I have the kids help sort and put away the laundry during the day.

8. Clarify your goals. Decide how you will measure success. How well behaved or happy the child? Standardized testing? If you don't know where you're going, how will you know when you get there?

We consider our homeschool a success if our children can, by their teens, make and keep covenants with the Lord, have the skills to live independent and self sufficient as an adult, be politically savvy and involved in supporting good government, and be able to articulate complex ideas in written form. Oh, and they would never consider dumping us in a nursing home when we are old and frail. [Spunky at Spunky Homeschool has a good post about this called Why We Homeschool.]

So, how do you measure this in kindergarten? It looks like a happy, well behaved child that is excited by learning.

9. Start slowly. Trying to do too much too soon will burn you out. Start simply and add new things gradually. Remember, Rome was not built in a day.

10. Focus on the relationship with the child. If your child aces the ACT and SAT but hates you, leaves home and never comes back, you are not a successful homeschooler. This also doesn't mean you are a push over parent. Just remember your homeschool routine should not look like a military boarding school, unless that's what your child needs.

Good luck on your homeschooling journey.

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Spunky said...

Is your anonymous writer my friend. I posted a similar question on my blog today.

Janine Cate said...

I wondered about that when I saw your post. I don't know. She didn't identify herself. Anonymous left the comment on our blog Wednesday morning. Tell your friend we wish her the best of luck.

Spunky said...

I actually doubt it. She told me she never gets on the computer much, not even to read my blog!