It’s almost “back to school” time again. Yet, here we are in the year 2020, getting used to virtual classrooms. This is an opportune time to be creative and reevaluate our approach to schooling and consider alternative avenues of education for children. Homeschooling is one such approach. It is gaining in popularity and it holds much promise.
Though children will miss the school environment, their friends, and favorite teachers, it can certainly be an entirely interesting and exciting adventure for them and a rich experience. As a parent, this might be your first time considering the homeschooling of your own crew. It is a very big decision, even a life-altering decision. It is also a very big commitment, not only for you but for your entire family. There are many advantages to homeschooling, otherwise, no one would want to undertake going down that path. You still have a little time, until the end of summer, to prepare and get used to the idea.
The mental preparation
Parents who decide to homeschool go through mental gymnastics to prepare themselves for the adventure. An upcoming homeschool year means a big shift in your schedule, need-to-do plans, and whatnot. And most importantly, you’re going to be your children’s new school teacher. That means scheduling the curriculum, establishing rules, discipline, boundaries, timetables, the teaching schedule, and grading, not to mention of course the regular planning of daily meals, chores, shopping, and the like. This won’t be easy, of course, but if you’re serious about homeschooling, then you need a great deal of mental preparation, initially, in any case.
So the first step is to find inspiration. Look around you. Homeschooling isn’t entirely new. So no need to reinvent the wheel, as they say. There are resources available. You might know some fellow parents who have been homeschooling their little ones and have been successful, and they enjoy it. Reach out to them and listen to their educational detour. Learn the pitfalls. How did they make it work out? What are the possible obstacles? What does it feel like to homeschool? A healthy dose of inspiration will surely ignite a flame in your heart, and put you on the right track.
Besides learning from friends, you can search online and read inspiring homeschooling experiences. You’ll surely be amazed at the creativity of some parents and how they negotiated their way through the experience. You will also be amazed at the creativity and support of the children. The children often feel more grown-up, more respected, more trusted, more self-confident, and more willing to help. They often look upon it as an adventure that never ends. They are invariably more intelligent. You can listen to podcasts about homeschooling. Pam Barnhill hosts amazing podcasts featuring real homeschool moms and their journeys.
Planning for homeschooling
Now that that’s done, it’s time for you to do some planning. First of all, begin with writing down your purpose, goals, reasons, and aspirations for homeschooling your children. Always keep this list in mind, and refer to it often, especially at times when you are tired, frustrated, and on those few occasions whenever you begin to think to yourself — OMG! I’m out of my depth! Why on earth did I start this? Next, jot down your fears, worries, concerns, and expectations for this new adventure. Kimberley Kulp, a homeschool mom, recommends turning your concerns into goals and your fears into challenges for the upcoming homeschooling year. You may also be advised to acquaint yourself with the legal requirements and guidelines of homeschooling pertaining to your state.
Homeschooling takes time, dedication, and a clear plan. If you’re completely in the dark, help yourself and read these books: The Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life by Julie Bogart and The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Fourth Edition) by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise.
These books are a valuable resource for teaching styles and homeschool perspectives. They are also rich with supplemental resources that can help you get up to speed.
Practice makes perfect: Rome wasn’t built in a day
Get organized with school materials and tools. Buy what you need for each subject and stock them nicely on shelves dedicated to each of your children. They might be lonely for a while and miss their friends and the familiar school setting, so there’s no harm in getting ideas from them with decorating a room in the house to resemble a classroom to ease the transition.
Of course, don’t forget the calendars for goals and assignments, assignment sheets to map out your little ones’ work progress, clipboards, educational books, and school records.
Create a schedule that works for everyone. Keep in mind that you’re not restricted to the schedule. Be flexible with your time, if needed. It might not work out the first time, but that’s okay, you’re new to this. Keep tweaking the schedules until you find your rhythm. You are also not confined to the regular school schedule. You can go on day breaks, tours, or vacations when it suits your own needs and schedule.
Of course, have faith. You know your own children better than anyone — their strong points, their little tricks, and their weaknesses. Be firm as well, otherwise, they can twist you around their little finger. You are the teacher. You will help them grow up to be fine, upstanding, self-reliant men and women. Think of yourself as the best teacher your children could possibly have right now. Have some confidence that you can do this; like all the rest of the homeschooling parents out there.
Last but not least, keep your homeschooling year fun, interesting, and exciting! Remember all those times you complained about schools being like factories; you felt like “another brick in the wall.” Well, now you can set it right. Cherish and encourage your children’s full potential, and as you help them reach it, you may find your own, too.