Friday, March 4, 2011

Five Steps for New Homeschoolers

Congratulations! You’ve decided to homeschool. But now you lie awake at night and wonder, “How do I start?”

Here are my five suggestions to help you on your journey:

1) Do NOT buy anything! Not a pencil. Not a book. Not that beautifully packaged curriculum which promises to teach your child everything he will ever need to know, without any work on your part, and will even change the baby’s diaper while you sit musing on the wonder that is “homeschool.” Don’t buy a thing!

2) Join support groups. You can find online groups through Yahoo or Google. The HomeSchool Association of California (HSC) has an active list, as does the California Homeschool Network (CHN). You can ask online or your local librarian about park days in your area. Also, check online for places like the Discovery Learning Center, which is a terrific resource for learning about homeschooling activities in your area.

3) Go to the library. Why? Because libraries have books about homeschooling! Just ask your librarian (yes, again). While you are at the library, check out loads of books for the kids. See a family filling a huge bag or crate with books? Chances are they are homeschoolers. Ask them. If anyone knows what is going on in your area, they will.

4) Watch your kids. You must start to really watch and learn how your kids work. What captures their attention? How do they digest new information? You cannot do this if you are forcing workbooks, reading, math, and other “education” down their throats. Let them be for awhile, and observe who they really are and how they learn. You may find out, as I have, that one child is an auditory learner (must repeat new information immediately, and needs to share that knowledge with others, in order to retain it), and the other is tactile/kinesthetic (learns through play, hands-on, and physical activities).

5) Go places. Even mundane errands, like dropping off the dry cleaning, can become a learning opportunity. You view it as another item on your To Do list, while your children may wonder what is dry cleaning, why do some clothes need dry cleaning, where are the owners from, what are those huge machines, how many hangars are on that rack . . . Like your To Do list, the possibilities are endless. Of course, you can take them to more traditional places, like museums and fire stations, but do not overlook the relevancy of the every-day.

Now that you have incorporated the above steps into your life, I give you permission to buy something for your homeschool. Do it slowly, and do not be afraid to throw away (or give away, or even sell) something that isn’t working. May I suggest that your first purchase be ice cream for your “class”? (How is ice cream made? Why do we eat soy ice cream? What are calories? How much did it cost? What is it like owning an ice cream shop?)

Article by Sarah J. Wilson

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