When I started homeschooling I started getting advice from all sorts of places…and it hasn’t stopped! Some of it was solicited, some of it unsolicited. Some from veteran homeschoolers, some from newbies, and some from traditional schoolers. Some from in-person sources and some from blogs, websites, and books. So if you’ve ever had a question about homeschooling, here is all of that advice as it was given to me…
On Socialization: Make sure your children get plenty of socialization by involving them in every activity and class you can afford and make time for. But, don’t socialize them with the wrong sorts of people because that’s the point of homeschooling, right? And anyway, it’s better for kids to be around their families the majority of the time anyway so you can just avoid the socialization myth.
On Curriculum: The best curriculum is one that is tried and true and comes all together in a nice neat package. But don’t box them into one learning style. In fact, who needs curriculum? Let your children decide the units you will study and the course your schooling will take. Computer based is the way to go because it will be easier on you. Though you shouldn’t take the easiest road and you need to use the computer as little as possible.
On Reading: You kids will learn to read when they are ready, don’t push them! Of course they really ought to be reading by the end of Kindergarten…and if you’re call yourself a good homeschooling parent they better be reading on a 5th grade level before they turn 6! Oh, and you’d better use phonics only to teach because sight words are not the way to teach properly, except there are words you must learn by sight because they follow no logical phonetic pattern, and in reality no one really ever learned to read from being taught phonics. That is a myth.
On Housekeeping: Every good, focused, homeschooling mother knows you must maintain a neat and orderly home. You never know when someone might pop in and how will your daughters know how to keep house if you don’t set the example? Of course you could just keep the areas people see most neat and orderly. Nah…why bother? You are going to be so busy training the next generation there is no reason to focus on the laundry and vacuuming and dishes.
On Organization: You don’t want to be structured like traditional schools are because homeschooling lets you break out of the mold. You’ll want to take a few weeks (or months) to untrain them about raising their hands and sitting at a desk. But there are some good things about traditional school like the structure of the day, circle time, and corporate learning. Oh wait! If you don’t start school at the same time every morning then how will your child ever learn to structure their day?
On Common Core: Common Core is a tool being used unwittingly to warp public school children’s minds. Then again, not everything in the Common Core is bad. Requiring everyone in 1st grade is able to read is a good thing, right? You really ought to make your own checklist to make sure your homeschool is measuring up to the Common Core Standards or you might get in trouble!
On Location: Plan immediately which room you will make into a classroom complete with American flag which you will pledge to every morning. But be flexible enough to move to another area if you need to. And make sure you avoid all appearances of a classroom. In fact, do as many of your lessons outside as possible.
On Attire: The best thing about homeschooling is you never actually have to get dressed. The kids will love school in their pj’s! Although it is a good idea to dress normally except on special occasions. Have you considered requiring school uniforms?
On Grading: Strictly grading every paper is the only way to hold your child accountable. It would be okay to throw in some subjective grading like projects every once in a while. In reality grades should be chucked out the window. Who needs them? They are just one more way society is trying to make our children competitive and rarely accurately measure their intelligence.
On Bible Teaching: Daily Bible study? Now let’s not go overboard. You do realize you are brainwashing your children just like some claim the public schools are doing? But I suppose teaching your values and moral principles from the Bible makes sense. You really need to make certain every subject during the day references either the Trinity, the Scripture, or prayer.
On Evolution: I do hope you are going to teach evolution. If you don’t how in the world will they ever get through college successfully? Of course a balanced approach and letting your child decide might be an okay way to go. You could explain why you believe the Bible is literally true and speaks of a literal week for creation and explain others do not believe the same. But you better play it safe and not even mention evolution. Your children might turn into faithless prodigals!
On Duration: This is only short-term, right? I suppose it is best to decide what you will do each year. In reality you must commit to homeschooling until the end of time no matter what happens within your family!
I hope you caught the tongue-in-cheek nature I intended to toss your way. Here is actually what I have gleaned…
1. Every homeschooling family is unique. We have unique reasons for starting (or stopping). We have a unique grouping of personalities and learning styles. Some families are used to structure. Some families haven’t even considered structure. Homeschooling happens in small apartments as well as it does in a home with an entire floor dedicated to education only. Some are homeschooling one child and others are homeschooling 20!
2. Our role as parents is different. Some of us work full-time, some part-time, some from home, some not at all. Some can afford whatever curriculum their hearts desire, others have to use only what they can find for free. Some dads do some or all of the teaching. Some of the teachers are grandparents.
3. Not all homeschooling families do so for reasons involving their faith. Some are atheists. (This honestly surprised me!) The morals we impart to our children are our choice and we do take this seriously. Our family believes Scripture to be the literal, historical, 100% true Word of God from the first word to the last. We believe in a literal 7-day Creation, but I also teach my children what others believe about evolution. Although we are called to share our faith (and often!), we should not force it down the throats of those who don’t believe.
4. No single curriculum will fit every family if they would just give it a chance. Every family has different learning needs and styles represented in their children. While there are many popular curricula available which are excellent, this doesn’t mean the new curriculum on the block is worthless. Textbooks have their purpose. Experiential learning has its purpose. Student-led exploration has its purpose.