A lot of you have been with me since the inception of this blog. Some of you are new followers and aren't familiar with my entire story. Shortest version possible when it comes to our decision to home school is that I was home schooled with a group of other children by my mother and her friends until I was in ninth grade. From there, I went to public school, graduated and went to college. I decided to homeschool my child before I ever became a mother. I knew the benefits of being in a smaller group as well as being able to learn in a safe environment away from peer pressure and outside influence.
When I became a mother, three of my other friends had their kids five days apart from mine. It just made sense that we were all going to have my mother homeschool our children. So when they all turned two years old, we began the homeschool process. By the time our children were in kindergarten, they were all pretty much on a first grade level. So many people have misconceptions about how to homeschool, and also what happens on a day to day basis. So I made a list of some very important things to remember when considering home schooling. I've been doing it for years now with my daughter, but because I was also homeschooled myself, I understand the many layers that are involved in making sure it's productive for the child and parent.
1. Find out your state requirements - Every state has different rules and regulations when it comes to home school. It's very important to make sure you don't have to fill out any affidavits and/or do regular testing. An easy way to find out is by visiting the state Department of Education website and speaking to the representatives there that will direct you to the correct person who will let you know your state requirements.
2. Create a curriculum - You don't want to just make things up when it comes to your children's education. Visit your local school and go online to see what the requirements are for each grade. From there, you want to create a curriculum to follow making sure your child stays ahead and not behind. I like to add the subsequent grade school requirements to my daughter's current grade curriculum. This allows her to stay challenged and not complacent in what is given to her daily.
3. Make a schedule - Home school does not mean just sitting at home in your pajamas. I wake my daughter up every morning, she washes up, gets dressed and we find different locations to do school work. Sometimes it's the living room, her desk, computer labs or the library. She has school at the regular hours of other children. Schedules are so important for children. It gives them balance and a sense of normalcy. Trust me, you don't want to do the "roll out of bed" routine. Your children will become lazy and incapable of functioning in environments that require order and discipline.
4. Socialize - This is one of the most important things to remember, especially if you are like me and travel a lot and have only one student. The social aspect of school is extremely important for children. They learn so many different ways to deal with conflict and self esteem. It's very important to join other home school groups. Check with your local school to see if they have anything to help integrate them. Put them in programs during the day that are specific for home schooled children. Keep them in sports and other activities that will allow them to be around others. It can get very lonely and often frustrating for children to stay at home with you all day. It's important to change things up and create fun activities to help them stay motivated.
5. KEEP RECORDS OF WORK - You need to find some space in your home that can hold all of your children's work. Some states may require evidence of learning and you want to be able to prove that you are actually doing school work with your children. Keep all of their tests and homework assignments in a safe place. Also don't forget to grade them and show your children their progress. This also helps to make them feel like they are actually in school. Make a fun chart for homework as well. You still have to give your children homework even after you taught them all day.
Remember that homeschooling your child is a full time job. You are their teacher and principal. You are now in charge of their education. This shouldn't be something you want to do to just hang out all day with your kids. It is extremely challenging at times. You won't have a substitute teacher and you never get a break. You will also have to be their mother/parent once school is over and that can become overwhelming at times. My daughter and I had to really learn how to work with one another so that we could both be successful in all areas of learning. It can also be a very beautiful bonding experience and you can make it unique to your family and your families lifestyle and needs. These will be moments you will never forget and will find much pride in the success of your child. Enjoy the process and if it doesn't work out, they can always be enrolled in the local school around the corner lol.