Saturday, June 11, 2011

Thoughts for a new homeschooler

A friend who is considering homeschooling recently asked me about how to start. We first talked about the "why" of homeschooling - it's really important to know why you are interested in homeschooling. What particular issues are you wanting to address? What are your goals? In her case, her child has some sensory and attachment issues; at this point, they are looking at homeschooling for one year. This child will be in grade 2. Obviously, the age of the child and how long the child has been in school will make a difference to how the parents would approach homeschooling.

I wrote a list of other things to consider and thought I would share them here.

1. Ditch the "school" mentality completely. Don't try to run your day like a normal school day would go. You only have one student - they have 30.

2. BUT think through a routine for your own day. I'm sure you probably had a routine when your child was little - this will be similar.

3. Consider short lessons interspersed with other activities. For example, don't expect to spend an hour on math activities. For written work, plan on 10-15 minutes at the most, then do something together in the kitchen or send her off to play outside for a while.

4. You can expect at this age to get through any written work you need to do in a relatively short amount of time. But that doesn't mean the rest of the day isn't "school". It is - it will just look a little different. Spending time making lunch together will be school as much as reading or doing math.

5. I will try to send you some links on Morning Time (try searching this blog). Some friends of mine have done this for years and we do as well (somewhat modified). It's time to do our Bible time, memory work (Bible & poetry), read-alouds, history, etc. Basically anything you can do together. Will your little guy be around? I've let my little ones play as I read as long as they were quiet and paying attention. It's amazing how much they can pick up while playing lego (or standing on their heads).

6. You asked about classical education. I think at your stage, the better educator to look into would be Charlotte Mason who was a British 19th C educator. One blog I read talks about her writings quite extensively - here is a link to all the posts she's written about Charlotte Mason and education. Her kids are 9 & under so right in your range too. Also, you can read more about it at Ambleside Online. Or google Charlotte Mason.

7. In the rhythm of your day, which hopefully will come together fairly quickly, don't forget to include some quiet down time - for both of you!

8. Routines are good but also don't be afraid to venture away from the routine sometimes.

9. Have you read Shepherding a Child's Heart or Instructing a Child's Heart, by Ted Tripp? This would be my number one recommendation for reading material first.

10. Branching off from that, expect obedience but expect to have to train her in obedience. See the book above. :-)

11. Write out your goals and post them somewhere where you will see them often. As I'm sure you know, you'll have many exhausting days and many times when you will wonder if this is the best thing you could be doing. It is. Keep reminding yourself of why you are doing it.

12. Pray specifically for these goals. Pray for example, that your child's heart will be tied to yours (and your husband's, of course). When we pray specifically, it helps us to see better what's happening during the day and what needs to change - both in our hearts and theirs!

13. Try to avoid running around too much. If you have to go out (library, therapist, shopping, etc), try to put it together into one or two afternoons. Guard your mornings for sure but avoid the trap of thinking that now that you are home, you can do all kinds of activities away from home. It's called "home"-schooling for a reason! There are a gazillion activities and choices out there but you won't serve your children well if you try to do them all. Obviously, you know your own child best, but I would suggest one activity (swimming lessons, homeschool group, whatever) at a time. Every time you go out, especially at the beginning, you will lose ground at home so be careful with getting sucked into too many activities.

14. Don't think that you need to entertain/be involved with your child every moment of the day. Build time into your routine where she is reading, playing (inside or out), etc. on her own (or with her siblings) without you having to do anything.

15. Also schedule some outside time every day if possible (even in the rain). But again, try to let her go free and play on her own (see the link above for some thoughts on free play and imagination).

16. Sometimes when we are dealing with behavioural issues as parents, we find that it's easy to only see the behaviour that bothers us and to let that get in the way of our genuine enjoyment of our children. Look for ways that, even on the hardest days, your child delights you. Some days are harder than others, but I've found that helpful. Otherwise, I feel like I spend all my interactions with the "problem child" barking at them for their actions.

I'm sure there's more but that's what I can think of right now. I hope it's helpful.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Great post Juanita. Helpful tips and reminders for me. Looking forward to seeing you.