Jumping Into the World of Homeschooling

Last July, our family finally decided to jump into homeschooling our kids. It had been almost 3 years of back and forth with my husband but we ultimately chose to put our son into public school for Kindergarten. I have to say our experience was pretty good, but there were quite a few things that made us realize that homeschooling would be the best option for our family. The top 2 reasons had to deal with our odd business hours and the fact that we travel a lot. Our gym runs on a very late schedule (until almost 10PM daily at all 3 of our locations) and it became quite stressful to work around although we did the best we could! Our family has always been late risers (even when we sleep early!) and early school hours always meant cranky parents and kids. In terms of traveling, my son probably missed quite a few days of school last year which included vacation time, sick days, and those days when we had to travel out of town for business. It just made sense to have the flexibility that came with homeschooling on the road.

I’m happy to say we have survived the past 4 months of homeschooling our 1st Grader and Preschooler! It really has been a challenge here and there but it’s been a great learning experience for our family. To be honest one of the biggest reasons of not homeschooling earlier was the lack of resources and support. The whole homeschooling world seemed so overwhelming and I had no idea where to start! I finally discovered there was actually a plethora of resources but it takes some initial digging.

Over the years I have had the chance to meet many homeschooling families, and thankfully one of my close friends from elementary school had started homeschooling her daughter so it was great to glean as much knowledge as I could from her. We went to a private Christian school together and I fondly remember our “Math Minute Wars” in 4th Grade. I can confidently say we were the 2 smartest Math Students in Mrs. Chance’s class. ;] She took the time to answer some common homeschooling questions for all my readers. I apologize for this late post as I was hoping to get this in last September, but I’m happy to finally get this information out to anyone who is interested.

I would love to introduce you to introduce my awesome friend, Sara! She is the proud mommy of a 1st grade daughter and a 2-year-old son with special needs. She has been homeschooling for several years, and can often be found gleefully wandering the school supply section of Target. She blogs about homeschooling, her family’s special needs journey, and saving money over at Save Money, Live Joyfully. Check out some of her answers to some common homeschooling questions:

1. Am I qualified to homeschool my kids? Don’t I need to be a credentialed teacher?
From the time they entered your life, you have been your child’s most influential teacher. You have taught them the most important life lessons, and will continue to teach them for many years to come. Why then, do we doubt our ability to be a natural homeschool teacher?

In the early grades as you teach the basics of “reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic”, you won’t need a specialized education to get the concepts across. Most importantly, you know your child better than anyone, so you can adapt any lesson plans to fit his or her personality. For example, my 6 year old despises coloring pages. First grade is wrought with such busy work, but I can minimize the coloring pages in our curriculum to keep her interested and cooperative—something that would not happen in a typical classroom setting.

Once your child enters middle school, the math and science may be more than many parents feel comfortable teaching, but fortunately, there now exists a plethora of homeschooling options, such as charter schools, co-ops and group tutoring that help you bridge the gap. The confidence ebbs and flows through the seasons of homeschooling, but if you truly feel called to be a homeschool parent, you need to remember that you are capable and qualified.

How Do I Choose My Curriculum?
Most homeschoolers I know get super excited every springtime, because it’s “curriculum time”. Catalogs show up in mailboxes, and online ads flood inboxes. The myriad options are great, but also overwhelming. There is no perfect curriculum, and even the most veteran homeschoolers can be seen switching curriculum every year or two. While there is much trial and error involved, if you know what style teaching you lean towards, you can narrow down the options a bit.

Do you like a gentle approach to schooling, with a lot of reading out loud and hands on nature activities? You may want to look into the Charlotte Mason approach with living books.

Do you prefer a more traditional style of textbooks and workbooks, like what you grew up doing in school? There are many School at Home or Traditional boxed curriculum sets.

Do you think a solid foundation in the deeper concepts of math, science, and history is to your liking? You may want to consider a Classical Education.

Do you want all teaching to be child led, encouraging them to dig into a subject only when they are motivated to pursue it? Unschooling is also gaining a following.

There are many options out there, but if you can narrow it down a little, you can determine what curriculum may be the best fit for your child.

How Much Time and Preparation Does It Take to Homeschool?
There is no easy answer to this question, because it runs the gamut. If you purchase a boxed set traditional curriculum, you don’t need to spend any time preparing—everything is done for you. If you use one of the other approaches, there will be some prep time in writing up weekly lesson plans, printing out activities, or preparing experiments, but it will vary week to week and child to child.

I spend about 2 hours on Sundays compiling everything I will need for the following week, but that means I don’t need to prep anything during the week. I spend another few hours over the course of the year researching curriculum, and unknown time searching Pinterest for good ideas J

How Long Do You Homeschool Every Day?
The beautiful thing about homeschool is that it’s not time based, it’s task based. You’ll be done each day as soon as your child has finished his or her work for the day. In my experience, that accounts to about an hour to two hours per day for kindergarten, and 3-4 hours for the lower grades. In middle school and high school, your child will likely have research based projects that will take up the majority of their school day, but they will be working mostly independently. The amount of hands-on time is obviously more when your child is younger and needs a strong foundation in the subjects, but it decreases as they get older and are able to take the initiative for their assignments.

What About Social Interaction? How Will My Child Learn to Socialize?
Most of us think of homeschooling families as having a half dozen or more “weird” kids with bad bowl cuts and moms with denim jumpers and big hair. Fortunately, as homeschooling has become more mainstream, there are a lot of opportunities for homeschoolers to socialize. Park playdates, neighborhood play time, and sports are all great ways to get your kids involved with their peers. My daughter is naturally extremely outgoing, so I was originally concerned about homeschooling, but she’s never complained about not having enough time with her peers. She does at least one sport every season, and has met a lot of new friends in the process.

What Laws Do I Need To Know About Homeschooling?
Laws vary by state. In California, all children aged 6-18 are legally required to be enrolled in school. For most homeschoolers, that means filling out a private school affidavit in October of every school year. Joining the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) will tell you everything you need to know as you navigate the legal requirements of homeschooling. HSLDA will also tell you any state requirements for performing standardized testing in your homeschool classroom. Some states require that you qualify your child’s academic progress with a standardized testing service.

What about college? Does homeschooling hinder my child’s chance of getting into a good college?
Many homeschoolers find themselves especially well prepared for college, since they are able to take the initiative in their education, and work independently. However, there are some extra steps students need to take in high school so their college applications will be considered. Students need to prove they completed courses to earn all the required credits a typical high school student would have earned in the classroom. Records services are useful here if independently homeschooling. Another option many families choose during high school is the charter school path. Since charter schools are under the authority of public schools, they receive grades and credits like typical students, but are able to work from home independently.

Thanks again Sara for joining me on StrongholdMom to chat about the wonderful world of homeschooling! Be sure to follow her on her blog, Facebook and Twitter. If you have any more questions about any aspect of homeschooling, be sure to contact her!

Posted in Homeschooling, Parenting
2 comments on “Jumping Into the World of Homeschooling
  1. Sugar Jones says:

    Congratulations! I’ve been homeschooling my kids for the last 7 years. We’ll be transitioning back into “regular” school next year, but I feel really good that they have a strong foundation and a love of learning.

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