How to Homeschool Your Children
Home education is a wonderful way to stay close to your children while helping them become well-rounded teenagers and adults. It offers you the opportunity to tailor your children’s education to suit your children, your lifestyle, and your beliefs. Education at home also gives you a safe ‘home base’ for your children while they explore the people and places around them. With the ability to individualize your child’s education, you can truly foster a lifelong love of learning.
Getting Over the Initial Hurdles
1. Establish your home education legally. In the US, each state has different laws and regulations regarding home-school. Before you jump in, research your state's laws and give them the required notice, in addition to making a checklist of future deadlines for yourself (if applicable).
2. Make sure it's financially doable. Depending on your take of "home school," the amount of money you'll be investing in your child can very greatly. The job can be done with $300 or it can be done with $2,500. It all depends on what supplies you'll be using and activities you plan on doing.
3. Enroll your child in community activities. Get them involved in some kind of sport or other activity that they like; your child will need social interaction and time spent away from home. Don't force them to do anything, but don't let them give up too easily, either. These activities get children to socialize and also teach important life skills such as making friends and keeping commitments.
4. Inform extended family. Others in your family who care about you and your children can be helpful and give great support to your home education efforts -- or they can be heartbreaking critics. Plan how you will tell them what you are planning to do, listen to their responses, and answer questions and concerns they may have. Help them understand that you are prepared and determined, and don't let any negative attitudes get you down. They care, and over time as your children show success in their education at home, they very well may come around and be your greatest supporters.
In fact, why can't they aid in helping your children learn? Surely they have areas of expertise that you don't. Let them know you want them to be a part of your child's life, too -- how could they possibly turn it down?
Your Teaching Approach
1. Be confident in your teaching abilities. Realize that you care about your child's future more than anyone else does. Therefore, you are uniquely qualified for the role of homeschooling parent. Homeschooling is a big responsibility, but if you mold it to your family lifestyle it can work well -- regardless of your education or expertise. It does not require you to give up the rest of your interests; you can still have a life outside of home school.
2. Learn about different home education methods. Different styles abound and can be learned from and used as resources. The schools of thought vary widely when it comes to this topic, so it's best to sit down and find where you fall on the spectrum of belief yourself.
3. Determine your own style of home education. Examine your own intentions and motivations. Why do you want to home educate? What do you consider a ‘good’ education? What do you believe about children, teaching, and learning? How do your children seem to learn best? These questions can help you determine what approach to take and help you create a learning environment that will be best for your family and your children.
4. Plan your curriculum. The enormous volume of material and methods that are available can be overwhelming for a new homeschooling parent. It's easy to forget how useful it all is! Identifying your approach will be the first step in narrowing things down. There are many resources to help you navigate through the maze of ideas. Research, read, and plan what you want to teach and how.
5. Look for local support. You can find local groups that meet regularly, organizations that put on periodic seminars or conventions, or even online groups that swap ideas and resources. Many groups set up co-op classes--taught by other parents--in a variety of subjects. If you start to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or all alone in your family's educational pursuits, a support group can offer advice or just a reassuring acknowledgment from other parents that you are not alone.
6. Gather supplies. Home education supplies vary greatly according to teaching method. You can order textbooks, boxed curricula, and learning tools online or at home-educating curriculum and supply sales. For cheaper alternatives, many home educators use libraries, used book stores, curriculum swaps, thrift stores, and garage sales.
As You Go
1. Plan your day. If you choose to have a more formal home education environment, you can prepare by gathering your lesson plans, materials, and textbooks together -- or even by setting up a room in your house for studies and activities. However you choose to home educate, it can only be helped by planning and preparing as much as you can before you start.
2. Look for hands-on activities. Everyone benefits from seeing things firsthand. Some activities that can be educational as well as easy to do are: gardening, cooking, sewing, composting, science projects, hiking, fixing the house, caring for pets, and taking apart broken appliances (just make sure there are no lasers or dangerous electronic components still active). Your children will learn different things depending on their ages, but everyone will come away better educated.
3. Keep a portfolio of each child's work. Thick, three-ringed binders with tab separators for each student are an excellent way to keep track of school work, along with whatever may be required from a legal standpoint. Label each tab with whatever subjects you are studying. After your child has completed a page, punch holes (using a three-ring hole punch) and snap the page into the proper section of their book. Remember to date each page or it will be a big jigsaw puzzle to figure out later.
4. Go with your gut feelings. Trust your knowledge and instincts regarding your own children. You are not only the one ultimately responsible for guiding your children's education, but you are often the one person best able to recognize what they do or do not need. Turn to evaluations and insights from others to help guide you, but trust your own instincts about what your children need to learn and do in their educational progress.
5. Periodically evaluate your progress. Progress evaluation happens naturally through the one-on-one process of home educating, although in some areas the law requires periodic formal testing or evaluation of home educators. Personal evaluation, however, should not only consider how your child is doing academically but also how the process is working for everyone in the family.
Keeping Your Children in Mind
1. Prepare your younger children. Explain to them what is going to happen in the months to come, including how daily life will be structured for them and the rest of the family. Explain to older children that though they may be leaving their school, it doesn't mean they are leaving their education or their friends.
2. Allow your tween or teenager plenty of time to adjust. Often children who leave the standard educational system for home education need some time to adjust. Instead of immediately jumping into "school at home," you may want to do unstructured activities and then slowly work into your routine. Determine how much "recovery time" is needed for each particular child, and work with them to create a different and more enjoyable learning experience.
3. Don't lose your child's old connections, in addition to forming new ones. Encourage your child to stay in touch with friends s/he already has. You might encourage -- but do not force -- your child to become friends with another home-educated child as well. In many cases this will occur spontaneously if your family interacts with other homeschool families through co-op classes, field trips or homeschool sporting events.
Text adapted from Wikihow.
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