Why Homeschooling…the series – How to Homeschool (part 3)

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If you’re like me, whenever embarking upon a new endeavor, you do some pretty thorough recon. You may scour the internet, read up on an influencer in that field, or ask people who’ve already walked miles in the shoes you’re still trying to put on.

The first two installments of this blog series cover the “Why” and the “What” of homeschooling. If you’d like to learn more about that, you can check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this “Why Homeschooling” series and then meet me back here.

What I aim to do in this post is set a compass in the direction you may be headed. Its up to you to forge your own path. Here’s my take on how to homeschool.

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Do this first:

When you set out to homeschool, its helpful to gain an understanding of the plethora of educational philosophies “out there”. This way, you begin formulating your own and can move forward in confidence. I found out about the greater world of homeschooling philosophies through Deborah Taylor-Hough’s book, “A Twaddle Free Education: An Instruction to Charlotte Mason’s Timeless Educational Ideas“.

Towards the end of this very practical book focused primarily on the Charlotte Mason Approach (to homeschooling), Taylor-Hough gives a brief history of modern homeschooling and unpacks some of the most popular homeschooling methods.

The family behind the Eclectic Homeschooling website has also laid out a pretty in-depth list of the various homeschool philosophies complete with resource lists! Check out their comprehensive overview here.

Next:

Now that you know what you believe about how people learn, it would be prudent to head over to your state’s department of education website to become familiar with any and all state homeschool regulations. Another helpful site to visit would be your own school district’s website. If there is a liaison whom you can contact directly about any necessary requirements to ensure everything checks out with your homeschool set up, this would be the time to do so.

Its’ Time to Find Your Curriculum:

Once armed with your educational philosophy and the specific regulations from your state, you can breathe more easily as you set about finding a curriculum.

Finding this needle in the ever growing curricula haystack can be whittled down so much easier when the curriculum you choose compliments your educational philosophy. You wouldn’t use wrench when all you really needed was a hammer.

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In the same way, if you identify with the Classical Education Approach, popularized by Susan Wise Bauer, you wouldn’t go with a Montessori based program.

I have found an invaluable cache of information in Rebecca Rupp’s book, Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School. In it is housed a catalog of curricula of all sorts that is unrivaled in comparison to any other similar lists I’ve seen! The thoroughness of the resources from preschool to high school will help you find the curriculum to best suit your family’s needs.

After You Find Your Curriculum:

After you find your curriculum, the next logical step is to organize it into some semblance of a schedule. One caveat I’d add is if you chose an Unschooling Approach (promoted by the late John Holt) back at the philosophy step, this scheduled layout might not exist at all.

If that’s the case, let me introduce you to Karla Marie Williams, an experienced homeschooling mom of six who knows a lot more about the beauty of unschooling than I do. Karla recently published the book, Homeschool Gone WILD: Inspired Learning Through Living. Its here that she better explains the Unschooling Approach to homeschooling.

However, if you’ve found that you landed on a path that allows for scheduled subjects and classes, this section is for you.

There are a host of planners, schedules, calendars and an other organizational tools available to assist you as you plan your days, weeks, months and school year. Any office supply store will have this. Shoot, even a Google search of “free homeschool schedule templates” would do the trick!

Its at this step that if you’re like me, you can get a bit creative with the lay out of things. The beauty of homeschooling is its yours to navigate and wield as you wish. Are you and your children of the “Early Bird Gets the Worm” persuasion? Then why not start promptly at 7 or 8 o’clock in the morning and get ahead on some extra daylight hours? But, if you and your kiddos are more of the “Snooze Button Crew” then you’re free to begin your day of structured learning later on.

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One thing to remember as you plan your schedule is to take into consideration your state’s allowances for counting days versus counting hours. If your children are fairly young, then this requirement might not even apply to you.

I love, love, love the fact that in my state, I’m free to count days because the reality is that even if I only cover one subject for that day, it still counts as a school day. Now granted, we don’t take advantage of this by going all willy nilly, only doing recess everyday! LOL

But there are days in which due to illness or necessary appointments, our structured learning time is more flexible. And there’s always the road schooling approach in which you take your learning on the road. That’s a another blog post for another day!

Oh, and don’t forget about the glorious weekend! There are some days we attend a special program at our local museum or go to a cultural celebration down at the pier. These activities count towards days of school. My daughter also attends a book club once a month on Saturdays so I’m always sure to count this as well!

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When Distractions Arise:

For those who have littles in the mix but they aren’t yet at the schooling age, there’s no doubt distractions will arise. For this reason, I’ve always appreciated how nap times are a prime opportunity to tackle the most important subjects. This way, my older kids have my undivided attention without little feet pitter pattering around.

But, if and when you can’t avoid younger siblings being around, why not allow them to take part (as much as they can) in the learning environment? This is both training for them for when they become of schooling age as well as a way to teach the older kids how to be loving, patient and present when possible distractions arise. It builds character. Not only that, the littles will most likely be excited to be “doing school” just like big brother or big sis. They get enthused about learning and to be honest, isn’t that the point of it all?

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Last But Certainly Not Least:

The last thing I will say as this blog series comes to an end is the fact that homeschooling and its scheduling is meant to work for you so be creative and think through how to best utilize your time.

If and when you hit a wall, take time to evaluate what might be going on in the grand scheme of things. Has your family gone through a series of illnesses, is there tension within the home, have the kids been off their normal schedule, are your children having trouble grasping some newer concepts? These are all questions to get your wheels turning to discover what might be the source of the problem.

Also, something that freed me ALL the way up was the revelation that its okay to get mid way through the year only to have the realization that the curriculum you chose no longer works for your family.

That’s okay!

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Don’t be afraid to change things up.

Take a break.

Rework your goals for the year…sometimes less is more!

In all, no amount of time invested in your children is ever a waste. Your kids are always learning even when what may seem like a setback occurs.

Most important of all, have fun!!!

Thanks for reading and best wishes to you on a successful homeschool journey!

Blessings,

Courtney

P.S. As 2018 comes to a close, and 2019 is right around the corner, I pray you and your loved ones experience joy, rest and all that is good in this coming year. For those who have subscribed to my little old blog site, I greatly thank you and for those who continue to lend your eyes to this journey my family and I are on, I thank you. Most importantly, I pray that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you may be rooted and established in love, and that you grasp how wide and how long, high and how deep is the the love of Christ (my paraphrase, Ephesians 3:14-21)!

Happy (early) New Year!!!

I’ll see you next year! 😉 

 

Why Homeschooling…the series – What is Homeschooling? (part 2)

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In the last installment of this three part series, “Why Homeschooling”, I covered my “Why” for why I’ve chosen to homeschool my children. Today, I’ll turn my attention to what exactly is homeschooling and what it isn’t. In a day and age in which so many blog posts, podcasts and websites are dedicated to the ever deepening homeschool rabbit hole, I found it fitting to tackle this buzz worthy topic. So without further ado, let’s explore some answers to the question, “What is homeschooling?”

Homeschooling is…

  • Necessarily Relevant

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The fact remains that the options to the educational smorgasbord are endless. Why then wouldn’t homeschooling be found amongst some of the most sumptuous selections? I can recall, over six years ago, when my husband and I first made the decision to homeschool being asked over and over again why we wouldn’t just send our eldest child to a traditionally “brick and mortar” school. When I look out into the vast ocean of educational choices and see such varied alternatives such as public schools, private schools, Christian schools, charter schools, parochial schools and boarding schools (to name only a handful), I must say homeschooling belongs in the conversational fray as well. There is no denying that homeschooling is a necessary and relevant alternative to all the many forms by which to educate one’s child.

  • Doable

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Following the discussion about why to homeschool, the statement I most likely hear next is, “That’s great but I know I could never do that!” It’s emphatic declarations such as this that make me take a sorrowful sigh. I’d be the first to tell you that I know homeschooling requires effort but it most certianly doesn’t require perfection.

Is it true that homeschooling requires patience? – Yes

Does homeschooling require skill? – Yes

Does homeschooling require care? – Yes

Does homeschooling require planning? – Absolutely, YES!

But in all honesty, what endeavor ever worth embarking upon doesn’t require things such as these?

So, to those who are unsure about the “do-ability” of homeschooling, from one homeschooler to a possibly inquisitive soul such as yourself, if you’ve ever wondered if homeschooling was something you could ever “do”, I would say an unequivocal, “YES! Homeschooling is doable!”

  • Time Consuming…or At least It Can Be

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I’m just going to be honest y’all, homeschooling has taken many hours out of my life. Whether it was in the excited planning of a new unit or because I was concerned about one of my children struggling to grasp a certain concept, or simply due to navigating the sometimes choppy waters of my role as my kids’ “mommy-teacher”, homeschooling requires time, effort and mental energy. But I have to put in the time to see the results, right? Its hard to go about this half-heartedly. It is sometimes challenging to shut my homeschooler brain off. But, then there are those equally refreshing times in which I force myself to rest and take a breather from it all.

  • Not a Competition

Homeschooling is not a competition.

Sadly, in today’s social media driven world of likes, followers and subscriptions, I’ve seen quite the opposite.

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Whether intentional or not, there’s a darker side to the wonderful world of homeschooling in which some homeschoolers perpetuate a need to show off their instructional chops through their homeschool lives. I must admit that at times, I too have succumbed to this very sneaky temptation to puff myself up by putting my own homeschool achievements on display. That is why I have to constantly be on guard against my own heart’s sinful tendency to brag and boast.

But let me say this so the people in the back can hear me…

HOMESCHOOLING IS NOT A COMPETITION! 

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My goal for this blog and my Facebook page of the same name are purposed to be quite the contrary. In fact, I started both as a means to counteract this truly damaging tendency to compete for likes by encouraging the reluctant, the discouraged, the tired, the weary and the resource starved homeschooler.

My heart’s verse for this mission is simply this,

“The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach and patient.” 2 Timothy 2:24

  • Worth It!

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Some of you may have been expecting different content from a post entitled, “What is Homeschooling?” But I purposely decided to go the more theoretical route rather than outline a list of criteria. That being the case, when I think about what homeschooling exactly is, in all its necessary relevance, “do-ability”, time consumption, and non-competitiveness, I must summarize that it is truly worth it! Good intentions go a long way.

Was there ever a child who didn’t thrive when paired with a dedicated and passionate teacher who was equipped with a personalized curriculum for said child?

Think back on the most ideal learning conditions you experienced in your formative years. Were they marked by challenging yet engaging material? Did you have a willing teacher who was patient while you grew? Was there a sense in which your strengths were played to while your weaknesses weren’t held against you?

If this isn’t the essence of an ideal homeschool environment, I don’t know what is. So, as you continue your own exploration of what homeschooling is (and isn’t), I leave you with the charge to do your due diligence in setting out to create the most ideal of learning environments for your young scholar(s) in which to thrive.

Trust me, it IS worth it!

Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned for the final installment of my “Why Homeschooling?” blog post series in which we tackle the all important issue of “How to Homeschool”.

Until then, if you enjoyed this post and want to see more like it but haven’t subscribed to receive regular posts from me, what are you waiting for (lol)? Go ahead and hit that “follow” button!

Blessings,

Courtney