I’ve mentioned before that although I consider my children homeschooled they are in fact cyber-schooled. The biggest distinction there is that they are technically still public school students, we aren’t completely on our own, and we have “teachers” to report into.
When I first decided to homeschool the cyber-school was appealing to me for a number of reasons.
I had no idea what I was doing or where to start. I questioned my ability to teach without some guidance from an outside source. And it was free, they gave me the books, the computer, everything I needed. I could have all that and still choose a curriculum that allowed me to be the at home teacher and know what my kids were learning, and help them through it.
And it worked.
Still does. He is a traditional learner, he can sit down, read what he needs to, write what he needs to, and be done. Even at the High School level I still do a lot of one-on-one teaching with him, and it goes pretty smoothly.
However my Nathan is a different story. As I mentioned earlier this year we’re repeating the 5th grade. It was not a decision we took lightly, but as the year has progressed I’m more and more confident that it was the right one.
But as we were working through the same lessons we did last year, and reading the same stories (the curriculum doesn’t change year to year) I realized that it wasn’t working. I was still trying to fit my square peg kid into a round hole.
And we were back to not getting it… Plus I found myself trying to get him through assignments that needed turned in, and unable to focus on the skills I held him back for in the first place.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result…
So I made the leap. After much discussion with my fellow homeschool moms I decided it was time.
The other two are still with the cyber-school. For now it works. But my sweet Nathan needs something different, something catered to his active mind, his hands on learning ability, and a way we can make the uninteresting interesting.
What is weird is that after 10 years of homeschooling, I had no idea how to actually homeschool. Here’s what I’ve learned about where to start.
1- Get some confidence in yourself. You can do it. You are capable of instructing your child. It can be intimidating, scary even. The responsibility of knowing that if you screw up… erase those thoughts. Your child will learn, and you will learn with them.
2- Talk to homeschooling friends. If you don’t have any, email me, find others online. They are out there. Homeschooling is a growing movement, here in my small town there are more than I ever imagined. You’ll need someone to ask question of, bounce ideas off, and vent to.
3- Know what your child needs to be learning. The Core Knowledge Foundation has an amazing grade by grade list of what children learn. It is exhaustive, and covers a lot (a little more than I think is possible in a year) but it’s a great outline for starting to build your plan.
4- Start looking at curriculum. This one is a bit overwhelming. That’s where #2 is helpful. Some people buy a set of books and stick to the plan. Others pick and choose grade levels, subjects, and kind of make it up themselves. That is what I’m doing. Nathan is all over the place with his skills, so I’m catering our lesson plans to his strengths and weaknesses. Take a look at some reviews. Homeschool Reviews has a great database of reviews from real moms and can help you navigate.
5- Look at free resources. No one says you have to spend a million dollars on a pre-made curriculum. In fact there are so many resources out there. If you’ve looked over the Core Knowledge page you have an idea of what is needed for your child’s grade level. Visit the library, Google activity pages and hands on activities. Check out Teachers Pay Teachers for great free and inexpensive teacher made tools. Especially in the elementary grades homeschooling does not have to be expensive.
6- Notify your school district. Why did I leave this very important step for #6? Because, you want to have your ducks in a row, and know what you’re doing before you make it official. You want to be ready to go your first day at home. Each state has different rules about what they require. Homeschool World has links to groups in each state that can help you navigate this process. Alternately you can call your local school district and ask what they’ll need. Make sure you keep copies of all your paper work and send it certified mail, records are important.
7- Plan your week. Or month. Whatever floats your boat. I have a rough plan for the month, and then each Sunday night I map out the week. That way I can be flexible and re-evaluate if necessary. Simple Mom has an awesome planner. It is called the Simple Homeschool Planner and is exactly that. It has a lot of choices, and open spaces to write everything out. I’m loving it so far. Find one that works for you, a calendar, or something on your computer, even a basic notebook. But have a plan.
8- Don’t let the haters get you down. Once you’ve made this decision, and gone through with it you will encounter someone who is not supportive. They’ll ask about your child’s social skills, your qualifications to teach. They’ll get a glazed look in their eye that reads, “you are crazy and I can’t talk to you anymore.” They will ask if you are Amish (not really, but they will assume you are devoutly religious) Remember you are making this decision for your family your child, no one else’s. Everyone has to do what is best for their kids, for some it is public school, for some it is private school, for some it is homeschool.
It’s a big decision to make, and a lot of details to work out. But if I can do it, so can you!! Please feel free to email me or comment with any questions, or for moral support!!
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