You know how sometimes you receive advice that you just have to share with others? This is like that. It has helped me so much in our homeschooling journey that I’d say it’s the best advice for another homeschool mom that I can offer. So, what is this best advice for a homeschool mom? Let me start by telling you a story…
I hadn’t always planned to homeschool but when my daughter was four we decided to try preschool at home with her and see how it went. I found a free schedule online and we had a lot of fun with it. Because that year seemed to go so well, we decided to continue on with homeschooling for kindergarten.
I started researching and researching kindergarten curriculum. Oh my goodness! There was a lot out there. I discovered Sonlight and we decided to use their preschool program adding on kindergarten math and simple language arts–that was what many people who had used it suggested on their forum.
It was full of interesting books to read together, fun learn-to-read books, learn to write activities, etc. And while it was fun, it wasn’t what I expected. I was thinking her kindergarten would be (and maybe should be) like mine was in public school. I started to think we should try something different for 1st Grade.
1st Grade came and we used My Father’s World along with Christian Light Education. She started to really read well that year using their method. She did well with the CLE (Christian Light Education) subjects too. While that year did feel more like “school” to me, our day was really long. It wasn’t quite right either.
I wasn’t sure what to use in 2nd Grade so I decided to talk to two of my aunts who had both been homeschooling for years to get some ideas from them. Their approaches were different (one thought highly of Charlotte Mason style education, the other Unit Studies) but the one thing they both talked about was not treating our homeschool like a public school at home. Both of them encouraged me to look into methods that were different than the typical way we view school.
Don’t treat our homeschool as school at home?!
That was a new way to look at it for me. I started doing more research and reviewing the past two years in my mind. What did we really enjoy? Which things really seemed to help my daughter truly learn? The more I thought about it the more I realized all of the things that we really enjoyed and that seemed to help my daughter learn were non “schooly” things.
We both enjoyed her having a pretend restaurant or grocery store to build math skills. And all those books we read? I wouldn’t trade anything for those moments reading together and discovering new things.
My whole philosophy and ideas about homeschooling changed. Are there some subjects that have to be taught pretty “schooly” as kids get older (like math)? Sure. But there are still many ways to make school enjoyable and full of real learning instead of just memorizing facts to pass a test. That’s the advice I’d like to pass on to you–
Don’t turn your homeschool into school at home.
Instead of trying to mimic the public school methods of teaching and the way their classes are set up, consider venturing off into unknown territory and figuring out the best way for you and your child to set up your “class”.
Here are a few questions to consider as you are trying to discover the best method of homeschooling for your family.
Question 1: What is important to me?
What are the most important things you want to impart to your children? They don’t have to be just Readin’, Writin’, and ‘Rithmetic. Maybe you want the Bible to come alive to your child and cause wonder of who God is? Maybe character building is really important to you? Maybe you just want them to enjoy being outside in nature as much as possible? Write down all of the things you want to make sure to include somehow in your school. They don’t have to be just for the coming year, they can even be for a longterm plan.
Question 2: What way does my child learn best? How do I prefer to teach?
It is so important to figure out the ways that truly help your child learn. I went all through public school with honor roll grades, but a lot of what I “learned” didn’t stick. You have the opportunity to tailor your homeschool to each one of your children. How exciting!
How do you prefer to teach? It may not mesh with your child’s learning style perfectly but with some creativity you will be able to make both work together beautifully.
Question 3: What requirements must be met in my state?
Do spend some time figuring out state requirements before you get started–it is much simpler than going back and trying to meet all the requirements later. In my state the requirements aren’t too strict, but they do require keeping some records and plans so I make sure to keep track of our hours, etc.
If you aren’t sure of the requirements in your state, here is a great place to look. The HSLDA website contains so much helpful information. You may want to bookmark it. While you are on their website look into their membership program too. They offer legal assistance to protect you and your rights as a homeschool family. You may want to consider joining at some point.
Put it all together.
You now have a plan of the general direction you want to go and you can begin researching different curriculum to find one that may meet your needs. If you want to read more about finding the right curriculum for your homeschool or learning about different learning/teaching styles, check out this article.