Nearly every post in the Facebook and MeWe homeschooling groups that comes through my feed the last few weeks are from overwhelmed parents who have decided to pull their children from the public schools to homeschool. I use the term overwhelmed because that is the exact word used in 90% of the posts I see, and I know that feeling! It seems especially hard if there is an older child that’s been in the public school system all their lives, as well. I’ve tried to answer all the posts as I see them, but sometimes it’s challenging to keep the thoughts organized and remember them all for each question. I thought it was time to put them together on this page.
Take time to ‘deschool.’
Do fun things with your children and observe how they handle situations and how they take in information. Go to a zoo, an aquarium, a farm tour, a children’s museum, or some similar activity and see how they interact with things around them. This isn’t to give them lessons but rather to learn your own. It’s to learn how they absorb things best from the world around them. A younger child is easier to gauge because you can ask things later (What was your favorite part? What animal was the coolest? Which one do you think would do best in ‘XYZ’ situation?). An older child may require a little more subtly or more observation in multiple places rather than asking anything.
Don’t think that homeschool needs to look like public school at home
There are as many approaches to homeschooling as there are personality types and subtypes and sub-subtypes. Some families do best with 100% unschooling, some do core lessons more traditionally and use unschooling for the rest. There is Charlotte Mason, Abeka, Waldorf, Montessori, etc., etc.. There are traditional curriculums that can be bought subject by subject or all-in-one. There are online homeschooling options (I do NOT mean public school at home options). You can make your own curriculum and do it nearly or entirely free!
Expect to change gears and directions multiple times
Our homeschooling looks nothing like it did four years ago when I pulled my eldest son out of 9th grade in public school due to having a 0.2 GPA and hanging out with the wrong kind of crowd. He was 12th from the bottom of his class, according to the school's parent portal. Even the most straightforward courses had failing grades listed, and the final parent-teacher conferences were a nightmare. We first tried Kahn Academy, which is online and free, and I searched up worksheets to print out from Pinterest to supplement some of the lessons. He did the same to me as he did to his teachers. Make excuses and did nearly nothing. We changed gears multiple times and ended up on time4learning.com after a few months.
I first tried to let him work at his own pace, and simply gave him a number of lessons he had to finish per day. He would turn on a video and tune out. He would skip the work in between the videos and claim it didn’t work. I tried having him be required to do 45 minutes on each class. He would turn on a video and tune out, then open the quiz and randomly pick answers and move onto the next, meaning he had extremely low scores and no understanding of the subject. The final try with the curriculum was to require a certain amount of lessons done and require he get more than 70% on the quizzes. If his score was lower, he had to redo it. If he failed twice, he had to rewatch the video. We finally had a winning method. This was all in the first few months of our journey. My son’s problem was simply lack of desire and an unfortunate hate of learning, perhaps instilled in him by the public schools. This method evolved further over the years to include English and history curriculum that I created myself to suit him, with time4learning.com being for the sciences and math credits. He’s maintaining a 3.8 GPA now, with no small amount of work on his part or our family’s as a whole.
Your children may thrive with different methods
Our approach with our younger children is much more relaxed because they enjoy their school and are excited to learn things. They do some lessons on ABCmouce.com and watch fun, educational videos based on what they are interested in at the moment. I do hope that enjoyment and excitement will continue in them as it makes everyone’s journey much more enjoyable. I’ve continued to try to help my eldest find the same pleasure in learning but have unfortunately never found anything that brought that into play. He has two credits left to go to have a full transcript for applying to colleges, which is what he wishes to do.
Easier said than done, and I definitely can’t take my own advice on this one, but try just to let things flow. If they aren’t working, change something. If they ARE working: don’t mess with a good thing! Have fun, enjoy learning alongside tour kids, watch them grow, and savor the good days (just survive the bad days, everyone has them).
Utilize what the internet has to offer
There are thousands of resources out there, from Facebook groups to blogs to buying co-ops. Pinterest is a hugely helpful tool for finding blogs and websites with free print outs, unit studies, ideas, activities, and everything else you could need. This blog has a handful of fun seasonal and history activities and projects for different ages as well as an English Lit unit study for a novel by John Barnes. You can find print outs to help you track grades, attendance, transcripts, and anything else you or your state might require for homeschool. Find HSLDA online for great resources and information on those rules and consider joining them. Join social media homeschool groups for your area, your religion, your favorite methods. Subscribe to educational YouTube.com and check back often for new ones to supplement your lessons or even build them from scratch.
Places to Buy curriculum/lessons (and sometimes find free offers)
Some of my favorite blogs for homeschooling:
Our blog, of course!