Skip to comments.New to homeschooling, recommendations from the pros?
Posted on 05/14/2011 9:04:03 AM PDT by sc2_ct
My wife and I had initially been planning on sending our two boys aged 1 and 2-1/2 to private school. We decided to examine all of our options and that is when we first decided to give homeschooling a fair consideration and started researching it. In the two weeks since we have become sold on the merits of homeschooling.
First some background on our family:
Me: Socially and political conservative with vigerous libertarian leanings 31 year old. I work full time and then some as a paramedic and volunteer locally as a firefighter/EMT. Believe firmly in the concept of independence, liberty and self-sufficiency (borderline survivalist as some of my friends say lol). I had horrible experiences with both public and private education, got poor grades and in retrospect I suspect that I was just bored and with the exception of two memorable teachers, none ever managed to hook my interest. I am agnostic in the truest sense of the word.
Wife: Socially and politically liberal but fiscally conservative 25 years old (becoming more conservative as the days go by), also a believer in indepence and self-sufficiency. She has flexible hours working with her family at their deli and farm market, and we have playroom set aside upstairs so that she can bring the kids to work with her. She also had a miserable experience with school, however for her she was always a high achiever and felt that the schools held her back from her real potential. She recieved full scholarships to private boarding schools which she declined in order to stay with an vocational agriculture program she was in focusing on veterinary science. She is spiritual in what I call a new-age neo-hippy kind of way (don't tell her I said that lol)
We live together in a single family home in a nice neighborhood leading an average lower-middle class lifestyle while we work on becoming debt free. As you can probably imagine, we have a somewhat maleable schedule and are one of those families that only knows what a weekend is by reading about them lol. We have examined the options for education packages and have pretty much decided on the Sonolight program because of how it is structured and how we can selected additional modules as we go.
We have a room in the finished basement that is currently a playroom but that we are intending to split in half in order to build half of it as a home classroom, however we have heard that a lot of homeschool families end up never using the playroom and instead gravitate toward the diningroom table.
We have a pretty good grasp of what is involved in the process, but I figured I would come here and ask people if they have any tricks to share based on their experience? We are interested in reading even simple things like how ways you have found to simplify curriculum planning, network with other homeschool families, etc.
Any input would be appreciated :)
Matt and Melissa
Not a pro but I’ve learned a lot of history from the primary source documents (500 BC to 1800). Many of the links are dead but further searching for the titles can find nearly everything.
another good source of homeschool materials.
The great news is you are thinking about this early so you can plan. One thing I think is very important is you take an honest assessment of your knowledge and skills. Fill in these gaps by networking with other homeschool families. Some private schools may also allow homeschool kids to take a class or two if it is a subject you aren’t comfortable teaching.
I would also take advantage of networking with other local homeschool families for social experience. The kids need peer support as much as you’ll need support from other parents.
For extra curricular, look for things like music lessons, community theater companies, community sports teams, etc.
Finally, keep your standards and expectations high. Children will rise to your expectations.
*Disclaimer, we aren’t homeschool parents but I’m in the educational development business and my wife is a private music teacher so we work with a lot of homeschool families.
Ping (do you still have the ping list for homeschoolers?)
Personally I think the old one room schoolhouse method will shake out to be the ideal. Multiple families picking someone to do the bulk of the teaching of all the kids together.
Have your wife check out Vegsource.com. Great homeschooling chat/blog site with lots of resources. Also contact some local homeschool groups to get a feel for what is going on in your area.
Don't start out in Kindergarten worrying that you won't be able to teach chemistry or calculus in high school - worry about today. The longer you are involved in homeschooling the more people you will meet and sources will open to you for those later years. The best thing about homeschooling is you are doing it for your children and can teach them based on their strengths and interests.
It can be frustrating at times, and rewarding at others. But I am so proud of my son, who I homeschooled through out middle and high school. He is now in college and kicking azz! He recently had a professor who, upon accepting some homework from my son, laughed and said, "I don't need to grade this...." and gave him 100. He knew from the participation and attitude that my son had done the work. That is a rewarding reaction for a parent.
Connecticut requires you to file a notice of intent to homeschool so you would probably say "I intend to teach blah blah, and each year up it by saying "grade level" math or spelling or whatever". You also are required to keep a portfolio of the work your children do, and turn it into the school district each year. I did that in Pennsylvania - never had them question anything. For the most part is is just a formality
A great decision. You have plenty of time. Kids under 7 don’t need any formal schooling anyway: play with them, read to them constantly, go for exploring walks, draw, make stuff, cook, etc. The best preschool in the world is to go about life with mama. Talk about everything. Do the chores. Visit stores, doctors, watch people fix things. Follow the child’s natural interests. If they ask a question, research it. Find books or stories about it. Have stations in the house with open ended toys and art supplies (art supplies out of reach til they are a little older). But now of course you can have huge baskets or bins of duplos, largish safe play people, dollhouse, safe cars, etc.
Check out all classes for kids, sports, etc. And by age 4 start trying various things for your kids. See what they like. Hobbies and sports are essential. Swimming, gymnastics, martial arts, dance, chess, team sports, try everything.
Get the hugest catalog for homeschooling and peruse it. http://www.rainbowresource.com/index.php
It’s mostly Christian but has a lot of non religious things too. I love it and we are not Christian. It gives you ideas, and you can still google a product for other online reviews before you buy.
Good luck. You will not regret your decision to be there 24/7 with and for your kids. It’s a beautiful symbiosis. I can’t believe how many schooled parents flip out when they have to spend weekends or summers with their kids. We HS parents love being with our kids and we are so natural together. We do not feel a desperate need to entertain our children!
I’m 63 yrs old. Hated school, structure, and was a poor student. I love working hard, and learn best by “doing.”
So, I homeschooled our three sons.
We learned everything together, and I ended up with a good education.
My philosophy of education is best demonstrated by a visit to “global buckets.com Disclaimer: I am not a greeny, or a globalist. I am a Christian, patriotic American, and politically conservative.
My point is, aside from developing a passion for reading in your children, and basic math, they will learn tons from being allowed to really play (you’ll begin to see where their interests and talent develop). They learn tons about math, logic, creativity, and investigation by working with you and doing useful projects.
Avoid loading them with book stuff that’s boring and not useful. (We were bored in school because we were being fed stuff that was disconnected from usefulness or relevance to our life experience.) Sheer volume of information is not education.
Learning from other homeschoolers is good. Remember: You are training your children to be adults, at some point. You want them to emulate worthy adult hero’s. Don’t get too drawn into the socialization thing. Don’t compare your child’s talents or abilities.
Life is a whole lot more than books and “school.” Look at what early Americans accomplished when their only school, and textbook was the Bible.
And please, if some family wants to brag that their children are doing college level work by the 6th grade, let them.... Please don’t do that to your kids.
One more thing: A GREAT history text is “History of the World” by Karen Bauer. She teaches it in three parts...very good for young kids and even adults who want a story-telling perspective on the subject.
Ping SLB, he and his wife homeschooled thru high school.
The homeschooling community is growing by leaps and bounds! The first thing I would recommend to you is to find a local homeschool group. Some are religious and some are secular. Either way, homeschool groups will have loads of advice for you and can steer you in the right direction. They will also know what you need to do, if anything, to satisfy state requirements. Homeschool groups are also a great way to find friends for your children who have something in common with them (i.e. homeschooling).
Your children are a bit young to be too concerned about curriculum yet, but there is preschool curricula out there. Be carefu!!! You can spend a lot of money needlessly on curriculum. A great website to visit is DonnaYoung.org - this website helps get homeschoolers organized as well as giving a few tips along the way. There are a few books I recommend reading for you and your wife : The Well Trained Mind by Susan Bauer, Cultural Literacy by E. D. Hirsch, and A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille... and anything by John Taylor Gatto.
Congratulations on your decision and welcome! If you have more specific questions, there is a strong homeschooling presence here in FR. I have faith your questions will be answered (ad nauseum) ;o)
I started homeschooling in 1986, when my son turned two.
In those days, we kept out of sight for fear of being reported to CPS. Those fears should be gone.
1. Join a church with homeschoolers, or find the closest network.
2. Go to a homeschool book fair if you can find one near you.
3. As the kids get older, if you want more structure/help with math/science etc., see if there is a local University Model School near you(website NAUMS).
I’ve been homeschooling since (mumble, mumble, carry the ten ...) 1995. Had some brilliant successes, made a lot of mistakes. The mistakes mostly just cost money, and you can sell them used.
Your children are so young. Read to them. Take them outside to play. Let them color; crayons are nontoxic and come out in the end.
I assume you want them to read. If they turn out to like pictures, you can get “Blue’s Clues ABC Time” or “SuperWhy!” Five of my sons taught themselves to read by 4 (and one at just-turned-3, which is actually a bit of a problem). If they like text, get “Alpha-Phonics.” Then get them library cards and a few math worksheets.
Schoolhouse Technologies Worksheet Factory, best $14.95 we ever spent. We’ve had it since (mumble, mumble, borrow the ten ...) 1998, and it still works like a charm. Everything from counting through algebra.
This is how my wife ended up running a school. She and her late husband started home-schooling. Other people asked if they would take in their kids as well. They ended up with over 30 students, and several teachers who taught specific subjects part-time. She eventually closed the school when all her children had graduated and were in college.
Two of her daughters are now home-schooling their children.
Things to keep in mind
1. Homeschooling is a tutorial model of education, not a factory model (which is the model of the traditional school). You want to help your children become independent learners.
2. You have a “socialization” problem, not your children. Find a support group, coop, etc. so that experienced homeschoolers can help resocialize you (for homeschooling).
3. Phonics is the only intelligent way to teach a child to read a phonetic language such as English. Consequently, get a good, conservative phonics program and use it (anything that uses words like “balanced” is to be avoided). The New England Primer might be fun to take a look at (so you can see how the Founding generation was taught to read).
4. Once your child can read the material in the phonics program, get a set of McGuffey’s readers (1836 edition, and no other). Once your child can read through the Second Reader, he can read just about anything. If you are interested, I’ll let you know how to use McGuffey’s.
5. Make or buy some flash cards and teach math facts as a game. Once your child can do math facts for all operations of arithmetic as fast as you can move your hand, you can go straight into Saxon 5/4. You will find that your child will be able to do most of each of the lessons in his head.
6. The public library is not your friend. Children’s books have become highly politicized, and the ALA is as left wing as the NEA. Apart from the politics, most recent children’s books are filled with colors and pictures. For young readers these are distractions that make text seem “boring”. I suggest getting a basic Ebook reader and downloading fairy tales, etc. for free. The content is better; there are fewer visual distractions; and, it saves gas. In addition, an Ebook reader will pay for itself many times over, helps you avoid book clutter, and travels easily.
7. Join HSLDA AND your state homeschool organization. The cost is minimal, but the benefits are significant.
8. Eventually, you might want to try a course or two from Switched-On Schoolhouse.
9. No television. There is no worse example than for parents to be sitting around watching the drivel coming over the box. And, no, the History Channel is not an excuse to keep cable (it isn’t “history” most of the time, either)A basic Netflix subscription can be beneficial (all of Shakespeare’s plays, operas, classic movies (e.g. The Picture of Dorian Gray) are available).
10. If you have your child learn an instrument (piano is recommended), you must be serious or it is wasted time. “Serious” means that you are involved from the beginning. Before starting lessons, get a set of flash cards that teaches notes and tempo and dynamic markings and teach them to your child (and yourself if you don’t know them). YouTube has free introductions to some instruments, especially piano. Let’s take piano as an example (are you getting the hint ;-). Before starting lessons the child should know know the flash cards cold, know the keys on the piano that the cards correspond to, know how to play a simple scale (hands apart), and understand finger numbers (i.e. each finger has a number from 1 to 5). This will save a lot of money on lessons and will get your child off to a fast start. Early on it is important to practice as much as possible - 1-2 hours every day (best to break it into 2 sessions). Moreover, you need to be with the child to count, correct note errors, and provide structure to the practice. An intense effort over the first 18 months or so will dramatically reduce (not eliminate) the need for parental involvement.
Does this work? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-WvF6Nhsng
10. If you want you child to learn a foreign language, he needs immersion for two or three hours a day. If you have a spare bedroom, you might be able to find an exchange student who will trade some language time for room and board. Alternatively, you might know or be able to find a native speaker of the language you want that you can trade “services” with. Young children will pick the language up very quickly.
Forgot one thing. If your church isn’t supportive of homeschooling, find another church. And don’t take any crap from government school parents or pastors. To know to respond to such people, The Harsh Truth About Public Schools is a great resource. It covers everything definitively - they will not be able to answer your arguments.
We homeschooled 10 years, and I enjoyed most of it. There were days, however, I thought I was insane for embarking on the journey. It is a long and, sometimes, arduous task but well worth the effort.
The rewards of seeing your child grasp something and make it their own and even seeing your child struggle and then eventually “get” a topic, makes up for the daily grind.
It allowed me to hone a love of God and country into my child. It also allowed me to understand what type of learner my daughter was and change the lessons to fit her. It also allowed me to find out what her interests were. I made the discovery she loves mythology (which I hate) and her love of Shakespeare, newly found in middle school, would later became the inspiration for her choice for a minor in college.
When we were in the elementary years, we did a lot of unit studies and incorporated reading, writing, math, art, music, history, science into whatever we were studying, such as the American Girls series, Texas state history, bears, native Americans, undersea animals, planets and space, mythology, etc.
What basic subjects I incoporated into the unit studies depended on what the unit was covering. Some units obviously were more history based while others were more science based, so our daily work would be based on the topic. Math was usually a given no matter what we were studying.
With each unit the dining room would be transformed into the subject matter. At various times we had bears, teepees, the wild west, Roman/Greek mythology, the human body, the solar system, and various other scenes covering our walls and table. We built and tore down Rome. We built the solar system. We created a jungle, and we set up Civil War scenes. We made our own branding irons and went “Go Western” to the rodeo.
To follow-up on each unit, we had field trips that would be a reward or enhancement to the study. So the zoo, children’s museum, art museum, the Alamo, various festivals, rodeo, NASA, Bush Library, Colonial Williamsburg, Blue Bell Ice Cream factory, a sugar mill, miniature horse farm, etc. were the virtual reality settings for what we were learning. That time was definitely the fun part of homeschooling.
Fortunately, I took pictures along the way, and when she graduated from high school, we took the albums out and looked at the things she had made and the field trips we took. It was a great way to remember our journey. So be sure to take lots of pictures!
As we entered middle school and high school, of course, the workload got heavier and we had less time for the “creative” fun times. We worked with curriculum rather than unit studies to make sure we were covering basics for college. We usually used a combination of Apologia Science (creation based), Abeka, Bob Jones (great history and government curriculum), Easy Grammar (which was fantastic for learning the parts of sentences) and writing curriculums.
We also used outside classes that offered band, theater, choir, sports, etc. that were available to homeschoolers offered by other homeschooling parents or homeschooling venues. These tended to be our “fun” classes.
We also joined a support group for that all important “socialization” issue non-homeschoolers worry about. :) Through the support group, we had social events which included dances, field trips, movie nights, games days etc.
One other thing we heavily incorporated was service projects. Starting in early elementary and going through high school we were constantly involved in service projects. I wanted to teach that service to others should be second nature and not a once in a while feel good experience.
Some homeschoolers don’t test. I ALWAYS tested over whatever we were studying for two reasons: First, when she had outside classes or when she went to college she was going to have to know how to complete assigned work in a specific amount of time and under stressful situations. Second, she would also need to know how to study in order to prepare for tests so testing at home would teach her how to study on her own.
My daughter has made the Dean’s List in college several times and has just completed her sophomore year.
She also has received unsolicited offers of letters of recommendations from 6 of her professors, all of whom are liberal, but they learned to respect my daughter’s opposing viewpoints and her ability to coherently and logically argue for conservative Christian values. One of the 6 professors told her that even though she didn’t agree with my daughter, she was impressed that my daughter not only knew what she believed but knew how to defend it.
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