Homeschooling is growing in popularity by leaps and bounds for many reasons. It could be the best thing that ever happened to your kids and family if done properly. First, let’s take the fear and stress and money out of it.
You may be homeschooling from the start or deciding to start doing it after years of having your kids in public or private school for years. It will be a transition either way. There is lot’s of great news and let me list it for you. These are the basics and you’ll want to do some research on your own through the library and internet to get tons of advice and support.
- There are many, many ways to homeschool and you can try any style and combo and you can even switch each year if what you’re doing is no longer working. You can work through the public school and charter schools to get all your books and supplies paid for and to have more structure if you feel the family needs it. Then there is Montessori style, Waldorf, Thomas Jefferson and Classic that you would do on your own. Many families swear by Free Range or Unschooling. Get some books at the library to really understand these styles.
- Make your whole home into a school! You could have one room that you turn into a classroom where you have hours and studies…if that works for you and the kids. Then there is the idea where you have little educational outlets throughout the house and the children learn all day as they please. For example, I have a kitchenette fully loaded in the kitchen off to the side. They can pretend cook and wash dishes, serve us food and bake as they see me doing this. Then there are magnifying glasses, art supplies in a basket on the table and homemade playdough in containers, their own bookcase loaded with books and educational puzzles. Outside they have a sandbox and garden. All these things teach them science, math, reading, vocabulary, about the earth, agriculture, construction, building, art, creativity and so on.
- Teach through domestic and life chores. when a child cooks and bakes with you, they learn science, math, organizational skills and cleaning up. When they shop with you, they learn math and about organics, business, and nutrition. When you take them to farms they learn farming and all that goes with it. That would be agriculture, animal husbandry, horticulture, and also science and math.
- Reading piles of books from infancy teaches intellect, words, talking, reading, writing and all the wonderful things that the books are about, such as the solar system, dinosaurs, etc.
- Media used wisely and the computer. PBS has great cartoons that teach everything from community and friendship to math, history, the solar system, nature, the alphabet, numbers and science. I use ABCMouse on the computer daily for the 4-year-old. He learns geography, math, reading, problem solving, science and farming.
- Dolls and toys are great tools. Dolls help children learn how to care for and be compassionate to wee ones. Blocks and wooden railroads help them with building and creating, along with problem solving.
- Field trips. The library, forest, and beach are great trips and very educational for children.
You can do all the homeschooling for free or very little. If you go through the public or charter school, everything is paid for. If you choose another way, you can use the internet and library to supply you with almost anything and everything. Netflix is a source for educational documentaries and I know that people do a lot of teaching through movies.
Another few tidbits of advice would be to find a local homeschooling co-op. This group will support you, educate you on the ways of homeschooling and give the whole family some community that is much needed when we take a nontraditional path. There are legal groups and homeschooling groups online that will help you figure out the system. By that, I mean that you will have to register your child or children in a “private” school. They have to be registered somewhere.
I did not think I would ever homeschool, but with new laws going into effect in California, I had no choice. I read stacks upon stacks of books on the subject and did days and weeks of research online and by talking to others doing homeschooling. The more I read about these families and how they felt, how the children felt about being at home, directing their own educational course, the more I felt like there was no better way for us. I love the idea and I feel that I’ve been homeschooling since Arjan was around 2 years old.
One thing I had to learn from my research and that really changed my mind, was that most of the parents are NOT teachers with credentials, yet they are teaching their children…and successfully! So, you don’t have to have a Masters in education to homeschool.
As for socialization, if you have friends and family, take your kids to parks and trips and even the grocery store…they will learn to socialize. You would have to keep a kid in a box to prevent them from learning to be social. That is also what the homeschool co-ops are for. Parents take turns teaching classes in math, science, history, English and all kinds of extra stuff like dancing, gardening, wood work and organize sporting events. Kids have groups they grow up with. There are planned field trips, science fairs and much more.
For a cost, you can get your children enrolled in martial arts, gymnastics, and sports. They can get involved in theater and dance, some are free and some not. There is a world of fun and opportunity out there.
Don’t fret and stress. It can be almost free, even free. Think, no school pictures, class rings, uniforms, the gas to drive them to and fro or the stress of field trips. No packing lunches, they have hot lunch every day at home. It can be fun and easy. Just really educate yourself. I read so much from the library and it really eased my mind and got me very excited. I read stories from hundreds of parents and families to get ideas and input. Most people and kids really love being homeschooled and rarely go back.
This will have to be a decision between you, the other parent and your children. You can always try it and if it just doesn’t work for your family, they can be returned to school. Nothing has to be permanent.