Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Baby Steps to Homeschooling

I’ve had the same conversation over and over again with different people. It usually starts with, “Homeschooling is great…..but I could never do that.”

The truth is most people could “do that” if they tried. They just don’t know it. They have not had a chance to get their feet wet, let alone wade out into the pool. In addition, they may view homeschooling almost as an act of treason and are fearful their school friends will never talk to them again.

Many of us come to home schooling with the cannonball approach. Just jump in the pool and hope for the best. But remember, we spent a long time eyeing the pool first. This may have take the form of talking to friends who homeschool, reading books, and attending a homeschool conference. But, at some point, we just jump in.

So, here’s a relatively risk free way of trying out homeschooling. Take your kids out of school now and homeschool for the remainder of the year.

We are entering “testing” time. Much of school time is taken up by “preparing for the test.” This doesn’t have much to do with actually learning something useful, but more to do with how to guess which bubble to color in.

The end of the school year is traditionally the least productive. And remember, nothing important is taught after the test is administered. Also, grades and credits don’t matter before high school at all. Future employers or colleges will not look at your grade school transcript. Schools don’t hold back student anymore, so you really have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

If this little experiment doesn’t work for your family, just put them back in school in the fall. Either way, you will have learned something important about yourself.

Oh, and a word of advice: Don't try to imitate school at home. That system is very inefficient.

If your children have been in school for any length of time, they will needs some time off before they are interested in structured learning again. This is a good time for a family vacation to a historical spot like Williamsburg or spending days at a museum or library. It is also a good time to let the kids play in the mud in the back yard, read fun books, and make potions in the kitchen (cooking).

After a few months of not rushing out the door in the morning and struggling with homework in the evenings, you may discover the joys of learning without school.


Grizzly Mama said...

I totally agree with you, Kate. After researching and getting answers to my questions and concerns, we just used the cannonball approach.

Our style has evolved.

I believe that there are not many of us who could do worse than the public school system.

Janine Cate said...

It is easier the earlier you start. Each year gets a little more challenging. It felt like a cannonball that first year when our oldest daughter didn't go to kindergarten. In hindsight, it was more like wading in. The older the child got, the more challenging it got. Though, once they learn to read, it gets easier.

I think it could be very hard to start homeschooling in middle school without learning the ropes in the lower grades.

Anonymous said...

My DH gets very upset when I even mention the subject anymore. He doesn't think I can handle it. I thought about doing some kind of summer program as my oldest ds could use the extra practice. Could you point me in the right direction? Please! TIA & God Bless,

Janine Cate said...

That's a hard situation. Homeschooling works so much better when it is a team effort. I would ask your husband to go with you to a homeschool conference. He may have a good understanding of what homeschool entails.

If you do try something during the summer, I would lean toward the unschooling and discovery learning. By the time your children get out of school for the summer, they will be burned out and will need a break from formal lessons.

cara said...

Teachers have a whole classroom of supplies. I don't know how moms do it from their own home, but I'm sure that home schooled children are very lucky because they get to experience so many real life experiences.