What to do to start homeschooling? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 11-18-2007, 09:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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IT looks like I am going to finally realize my dream of homeschooling my children. I will be quitting my job in April and my children will finish out the school year which ends in June. Right now they are in 4th grade and 2nd grade. The kids and I have talked about homeschooling for a couple of years now and they love the idea. We always do a little homeschool during school closings and go on field trips on the week-ends when possible.

One of the challenges is ds would be graduating from elementary school after he completes 5th grade and he is very enamored with the end of year party they throw-DJ, graduation, the clap out, etc. He has said he wants to go to school next year and start homeschooling when he starts 6th grade. I have no problem doing this if this is what he really wants but I think it is just the party he wants. I have told him we can throw a party.

Another challenge is dh. He waffles. He gets really fed up with the school and is all for it but then he gets cold feet. It is difficult to against the norm and I know that is what causes the waffling. Along with the fact that he metioned it to his mother once that we would like to do this.

What I have told the kids is that we do not have to make any decisions right now. We agreed that we would try out homeschooling over the summer and see if we liked it.

Now that I have everyone on board I am having cold feet. I have no idea where to start and am having doubts that I can do this. I am looking for recommendations on supplies to have on hand and what to do with children who would be entering 5th grade and 3rd grade and encouragement that I can do this and won't be messing my kids up for life.

Thank you.

Kathy-Mom to Blake & Mikaela
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#2 of 7 Old 11-18-2007, 12:14 PM
 
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You are not messing up their lives if you are making this decision because you think it will be good for them.

I'd suggest starting with some books to help ease your anxieties and see how a typical HSing family functions. I like Homeschooling For Dummies, just for it's simplicity and basics. I also like The Unschooling Handbook, as it always eases my fears as they pop up. I also googled "homeschooling support" and found a treasure of websites to help me.

We are only starting HSing this week so I am totally green here but have been researching and reading for a while, so I feel more confident now that I understand the workings, my philosophies and my own motivation for this.

Check the stickies of this forum, too. there are some really great links in there!
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#3 of 7 Old 11-18-2007, 12:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kewb View Post
Now that I have everyone on board I am having cold feet. I have no idea where to start and am having doubts that I can do this. I am looking for recommendations on supplies to have on hand and what to do with children who would be entering 5th grade and 3rd grade and encouragement that I can do this and won't be messing my kids up for life.

Thank you.
I remember those cold feet -dh and I alternated having them! You are at the scariest step right now, it gets easier. I liked the book Creative Homeschooling for Smart Families by Lisa Rivero. It described a lot of people's experiences for deciding to hs and how they went about it. It gives you a bunch of ideas of how hs'ing might look and resources to check out. For now all you need is your library card and some stockpiles of art supplies. Spend your summer letting the kids investigate anything of interest to them, and you will slowly get an idea of how they learn and how best to help them along their journeys. Then it will be easier to get great advice on resources for various subjects depending on how your kids like to learn and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Sometimes it helped me to think of a worst case scenario. You spend a year trying it and decide they would be better off in school - not the end of the world and their lives are definitely not ruined by an extra year of special attention and time with mom. I think you will find you feel a great sense of relief after you spend some time hs'ing. You will have moments of doubt, but that is just part of parenting - not matter what decisions you make for your kids!
Good luck, have fun!
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#4 of 7 Old 11-18-2007, 12:56 PM
 
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I would read the homeschooling blogs from other MDC mamas. Very inspiring. And it gives you a good glimpse into their lives that shows that they are not screwed up.

The other nice thing about the blogs is how real they are. I think it is easy to create an idealized expectation of what homeschooling will be when in truth, there are days when it is hard, not fun and stressful. With the blogs, you get to see people work through those rough patches and realize that they happen to everyone.

The issue that I have had with many books is that they tend to portray families who have had wild success. Their children are all happy, well-adjusted, and brilliant. They can make you feel like you are not making the grade. Blogs are more realistic and down to earth, IMO.
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#5 of 7 Old 11-18-2007, 03:38 PM
 
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Those are all really good tips. I wish I'd had this kind of forum to refer to when we began!

Here are a couple of short articles that may give you a lift:

Top 10 Gems - "What I wish someone would have told me during my first year of homeschooling" - excerpts from Linda Dobson's book, The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child - these are comments homeschooling parents contributed:

and

Homeschooling: The Ever-Changing, Never-Ending Story - Linda's response to all the feedback she got when she her parent contributors the question, "“What do you wish someone had told you about homeschooling?”

You mention trying homeschool over the summer. We occasionally hear of people trying it out on a basis like that, but it doesn't tend to work out so well. It's kind of hard to explain why that is - but it has to do with it not being homeschooling in a true sense, but a matter of certain learning requirements being added into their days during precious and valuable time they would ordinarily expect to have all to themselves for whatever strikes their fancy, including playing, daydreaming, or doing nothing at all. As I said, it's hard to explain, but it doesn't tend to feel good to children - so that in itself makes a huge impact on how well it works. It also puts you in the rather awkward position of being somewhat scrutinized by both yourself and them as a potential teacher - which isn't at all helpful in the whole process.

Another thing to consider about that schooling during the summertime doesn't allow for decompression/deschooling time. When you're starting into homeschooling, that's pretty crucial, and even the summer vacation break doesn't seem to be enough. It's best started during the time when they would have been going back to school - after they've had a normal vacation time like all their school peers. Here are some articles on that - just click on links in this MDC thread: Decompression/Deschoooling.

Has your husband read much of anything about homeschooling? There are a few books that tend to be especially helpful for dads to read. One is Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense, by David Guterson. He wrote it while he was still teaching high school and, with his wife, homeschooling their own children. It's a direct response to all the flack he was getting from colleagues, and it's very eloquent. He's the same Guterson who went on to become a bestselling novelist - quite wonderful with words. Another one - a very powerful one - is Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, by former award-winning teacher, John Taylor Gatto. You can read a lot of his writing in this website: John Taylor Gatto - Writing on the Web. It includes the speech he gave when he accepted the NY State Teacher of the Year Award: "Why Schools Don't Educate."

And the National Home Education Network has a special section called "For Dads by Dads."

Here's a post in which I put links to a handful of good resources that help simplify getting started:
getting started

I think the fewer expectations you begin with about how it's going to be, the sooner you're able to fit the whole thing around your individual children's needs instead of finding yourself doing just the opposite (which is what happened to a lot of us). So taking it day by day helps - and even picking out learning materials after you've started, rather than before, is a big help. Your own ideas will be changing as you go, and you'll be discovering marvelous things about your children and the ways they learn that haven't come to your attention yet because they've been in school. That probably sounds as it you'd be losing time and getting them behind - but it really doesn't work that way. There's an amazing amount of time spent in school not accomplishing much of anything - it will take very little time in comparison to provide what they'll need.

Enjoy! Lillian



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#6 of 7 Old 11-18-2007, 05:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for the great tips and links. I am going to check out those books for dh from the library.

You have given me pause for thought on my summer plan. I agree that decompression is important. I was not thinking of going full tilt over the summer. I was thinking more of an experimental/pursuing an interest kind of thing. But I may have to rethink the whole thing.

Kathy-Mom to Blake & Mikaela
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#7 of 7 Old 11-18-2007, 05:23 PM
 
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I was not thinking of going full tilt over the summer. I was thinking more of an experimental/pursuing an interest kind of thing. But I may have to rethink the whole thing.
Yes, I somehow realized you weren't thinking in terms of going full tilt . I think you can probably get a lot out of that time by making mental notes, or even inconspicuous written notes, about things you see them learning on their own or with the whole family - and the individual ways in which they seem to be doing that. What was amazing to me when we started homeschooling - and to my husband - was seeing our son learning things seemingly out of the thin air. We'd ask one another "Where'd he learn that?," and neither of us would know. That in itself got us to taking a pretty hard look at the assumptions we'd had about how it all worked. That kind of thing is absolutely fascinating. Mary Griffith, who wrote The Homeschooling Handbook and The Unschooling Handbook, has a new book called Viral Learning: Reflections on the homeschooling life. I think it would be interesting and helpful for those who haven't yet begun the journey that she and others of us have finished. - Lillian
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