Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Home School - You might be thinking about possibly considering it. Maybe.

I my mind, there are three stages of Home School research. I've been through them all on my way to making the decision.

The first stage - I'm just reading about it. Probably not going to do it. know. Looking.
If you're at this point, you probably have babies and toddlers. You're looking down the road and just considering your options. There's no pressure or even a reason to commit. So you surf the web and see if there's anything out there that catches your eye. You just want a beginning view. You also want an answer to that nagging question that everyone asks. Will my kids be weird?

Here's what I recommend.  is an invaluable resource at this stage. It is very gentle and always positive. It offers encouragement and a little window into homeschooling without ever being judgmental or preachy. Even when I was thinking I wouldn't homeschool my kids, I still read it. Like them on facebook for tons of good stuff.

You Are Your Child's First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy   This book really opened up a whole new way of looking at childhood and learning and what is important in the early years. It made me re-examine my ideas on what is age appropriate, and so forth. It gets a little wierd, new-age for me, but the information and ideas are still good. It also freed me from the notion that kids need to be "stimulated" and "learning" all the time.

Anything by David Elkind. He wrote The Hurried Child and is a big supporter of slow childhoods and less pressure on our little ones.

I also recommend googling something along the lines of Are homeschooled kids weird? Homeschool and socialization. Etc. Hundreds of bloggers have answered this question far better than I can.

This is all to just introduce you to thinking about education and childhood a little differently. It's nothing earth shattering. Just thought provoking. It will not make the decision to homeschool for you, and you can enjoy all of these resources and decide not to home school. It's a nice idea to play around with, but it's a long way in the future and you don't have to decide right now. For me, this stage was like planting a seed that took a couple years to germinate.

The Second Stage:  Seriously considering home school. Something has probably happened to get you to this point. Perhaps you found out something about Common Core, or your child is struggling at school, or a nephew of yours got beat up for no reason. For me, it was moving to Merced, hearing about the gangs and then finding out that transitional kindergarten and kindergarten were both full-day.

Whatever it is, you need to look into home school more, not just for curiosity but with the intent to see if this will work for you. Can you do it? You need a confidence boost and to move from a motivation of annoyance/fear to something positive. If you don't truly think you can provide a better education for your child, then you won't do it. (Note: A better education can mean many things, not just higher test scores)

Subscibe to and read their free e-book "Secrets of a Successful Homeschool Mom."

Familiarize yourself with different educational methods and philosophies at this link  Home school does not have to look like school at home, and thinking it does makes it feel even more daunting.

Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Wheldon is a fantastic resource. I don't agree with everything she promotes (I absolutely think you should be pushing your child to learn how to read by 7 or 8 at the latest) but she has hundreds of pages of ways to learn EVERYTHING without the "read, lecture, test, repeat" method. You will be so inspired to make learning a joyful, exciting process. You'll probably use some of her ideas whether or not you end up taking the plunge into homeschooling.

Carl Honore's Under Pressure  A good intro to different educational styles and rethinking the high-pressure way we raise kids as well as a new look at just why those test scores in Asian countries are so high and the tradeoffs.

Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto will feel prickly and uncomfortable at first, but as you continue reading you'll keep saying, "Yes. I remember feeling that way." Some of his assertions are a bit overboard for me, but if you want something to make you think, even if all it does is make you angry at the author, this is a great book.

This Blog post. Should I Homeschool or Not?  and Part two

Pinterest! Set up a pinterest board and label it teaching, or learning, or even homeschool if you want. Then start finding all the great pins there are out there about teaching kids. There's unit studies, worksheets, art projects, science experiments, book rec's, everything you could possibly need. Seriously. And most of it is free. This is one of the best ways for you to see what you can really do.

123homeschool4me. I love this blog!

Take a risk-free plunge. I think this is the best way to figure a few things out. Do preschool for your little guy. Or if you have a school age student already, do some summer school (but think outside the school box and keep it really fun and hands-on with minimal worksheets. Who wants to do those on vacation?) Do you like it? Does it work your creativity and leave you feeling buzzed? What about your kids? Can you see them learning and loving it? For me, trying it out was the best thing for "knowing" what it was like and if it would work.

Third Stage - I really want to do this, but how do I get started?

Find out what the laws are in your state as hslda. has a great checklist for you! Some of it I've already linked above.

Find homeschool co-ops, groups, enrichment classes, park days, etc. in your area. Get involved!

Check out all the resources available to you through your community arts programs, sports programs, college and university.

Go to your library! The best education will come with lots and lots of reading. There are so many good books out there! Read them for free.

Start writing down your ideas of what you would like to do in your home school. What is your vision? How do you want your days to run?

Here is an extensive list of "Core Knowledge" by grade. If you are a check-it-off-the-list type person, this is a detailed list of what your child should know and be able to do by the end of each grade. You can use these benchmarks when you're planning what your child will learn. Although I would by no means feel limited by it.

Check out curriculum. I'm not a huge all-in-one curriculum person. I'm more of a relaxed, unit-studies homeschooler right now. My focus is lots of hands on stuff. Because of that, I mostly just need ideas and lots of books. However, I will be buying a math curriculum (one with tons of manipulatives of course) I think it is good just to check out curriculums, just to kind of see what's out there and get ideas if nothing else. But remember, you really don't have to spend a lot of money to give your kids a good education. Check out this HUGE list of free resources!

And have you checked out online public school? It's a great way to go if you worry about being able to teach everything yourself. See what's available in your area!

Now, take a deep breath and repeat after me. This is an adventure I'm taking one year, one month, one week at a time. If something changes and this is no longer feasible for us, or if I feel like it is no longer our best option, I can change at any time. Guess what? The public school will still be there! You can put them back in! The world won't collapse. You'll both be okay. That's what public school is there for. Aren't we lucky to always have that option?

Have I overwhelmed you yet? Don't be. I'm just giving you what I have read and looked at. Yours doesn't have to be the same. Pick and choose. Find something else. We're all different, with different kids, different needs, different visions.

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