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Could homeschooling be the right choice for you? Right now, because of the pandemic, many of you are being thrust into a sort of homeschooling mode, despite the fact that you haven’t chosen that path, nor want that path. My heart goes out to you! My heart goes out to the teachers who are trying to put that plan into place, too. While virtual learning and hybrid programs aren’t purely homeschooling, they still have that same aspect of parental responsibility, and it has to be a nightmare for both parents and teachers.
I know many of you are in panic mode. You weren’t planning any of this.
And, while some of you have no interest in homeschooling whatsoever, (and I get that – homeschooling isn’t for everyone!), some of you have been considering taking the plunge into full homeschooling (without a traditional school’s supervision) for some time. If you have been seriously considering it, and think you would like the lifestyle, read on!
With the pandemic in play, my 26 year old daughter has been urging me to blog more about homeschooling. We were a homeschool family for quite a few years, and my daughter, (now a college graduate), wants to encourage prospective new homeschool parents.
As we were talking the other day, she said, “Homeschooling isn’t that difficult. People need to know that.”
Well, actually, from the parents’ perspective, it can be difficult in many ways. But, I completely understand what she meant, because we had talked about this before.
What she wants to get across is, if you want to do this, it’s not as difficult as you might think. It’s not a mysterious, vague world that you are incapable of navigating. There really are just some basics that need to be put into play.
The truth is, if you give your child plenty of reading time and you read to them a lot in the elementary grades, (even after they are reading independently), if you make sure they have a structured math program (and for us, that meant math tutors from middle school on), if you cover the subjects necessary for their grade level (and I don’t necessarily mean from textbooks!), and if your kids have opportunities to socialize with other kids (either in person or virtually), your child will flourish. Homeschooling could very well be the right choice for many.
When my daughter was extremely ill in middle school, she really only had the energy to read (and read and read), go to a math tutor, and watch science shows. She continued to journal as she had for some time. We didn’t have much structured curriculum, other than with her math tutor, because she was just too sick. Despite her illness, she never fell behind in grade level and, rather, tested above in most subjects. She learned almost all of her history by reading historical fiction, during that time.
Now, it’s true, she was in middle school, and she had her Language Arts basics pretty well mastered by that time, so her grammar was strong, etc. If she had been younger, we would have spent time working on that too. But, as a homeschool parent, you aren’t restricted to the standard types of textbook learning that teachers with a classroom full of kids often find it necessary to use, practically speaking. (Classroom teachers are my heroes! Classroom management, while trying to teach a class, isn’t for cowards.) It’s really fun to learn parts of speech with Mad Libs, for example, and these kinds of activities are very well suited to homeschooling.
You already know this, but reading is critical. If your child can read well, he or she can become an independent learner for life. So, if you have a young student who is just learning to read, I recommend a research based reading program that uses explicit phonics (part to whole) as opposed to implicit phonics, (whole to part), along with lots of real books. I don’t, though, like a reading curriculum that beats you over the head constantly with phonics rules! We used the Explode the Code program, and it’s one that I recommend. (This link is for the full program, but you can purchase it by individual workbooks too.) They didn’t have the online program back then, so I’m not familiar with that, but I can highly recommend the workbook based version. (And, these are different than typical boring workbooks!) The workbooks are also great to use for added reading/phonics practice for any kids, whether homeschooled or not.
I know all of the curriculum options are scary to new homeschool families. Keep in mind, though, there is a lot of information out there now, to help you determine which kinds of materials your family will get the most benefit from. There are curriuculum reviews that can help you decide which ones vibe with your goals and lifestyle. There are local and online groups for support and information.
I have a previous post about some of my favorite curriculum choices. But, there are many other choices than the ones I have in that post.
Here’s a little bit of our homeschool story:
I had happily homeschooled my son and daughter for several of the elementary years, but from middle school on, after a couple of years with them in traditional schools, I was sort of dragged back into homeschooling, kicking and screaming. Both of my kids had become extremely ill, and we were short on options, so returning to homeschooling was kind of my last resort. I had loved homeschooling for the elementary grades, but I was terrified about the upper grades.
What I came to realize was that I didn’t need to have been worried about homeschooling the upper grades, at all. In some ways, it’s actually easier than the elementary grades, because of all of the classes and resources available. (Dual enrollment classes at some local colleges and universities, for example, provide both high school and college credits at the same time.)
Because my kids were sick, our middle and high school homeschool days were more stressful and frightening than those of most homeschool families, due to all of the uncertainties. But I came to realize after the fact, what an incredible opportunity homeschooling could provide, for kids of all ages. Both kids entered college very well prepared and are college graduates now.
I want to encourage any new homeschool parents who really want to do this. In many ways, homeschooling can be easier than following a school’s virtual program, because of the flexibility homeschool families have. (If you have the time to put into it. Again, each family needs to decide what is best for them, when it comes to educating kids.)
So, if you really want to full on homeschool, this transition/pandemic time might be a good time to start. For many families, even those who were scared to death at first (like us!), homeschooling can be a great choice.
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