If you feel that you should home school, and you want to home school, and you are willing to put in the time to home school, then you are a good candidate for home schooling your own children. For some of us, the call to home school is part of our personal vocations. I found it to be a particularly wonderful aspect of my own vocation.
HOME SCHOOL IS WORK BUT NOT ROCKET SCIENCE!
It is not rocket science! You teach your children to hold a fork and spoon correctly; you potty train them; you teach them to speak correctly; you teach them their colors and the names of things and so many other important skills that you never really thought about because it is just what parents do. Elementary educational goals are merely the next step in what you have been doing all along.
The next step in language learning is to begin to understand that what we SAY and be put on paper. There are dozens of proven methods for a child to learn to read. Alphaphonics is a book that is easy to use, but it is only ONE method of many. I used it some, and I know other parents whose children were reading thanks to this one book. Games that help a child understand the sounds in the works he already uses can be marked on paper for someone else to read are fun and useful.
Such games start with the child saying a word and the parent isolating the sound of the first letter and saying its name. Later, the parent will say a word and the child will isolate the first sound and say the letter name. Make it a game, and if one game is not pleasing, create another one. Children are little learning machines. When we read to them, talk to them, play with them, take them with us when we work or run errands they are constantly learning.
EXAMPLE OF LEARNING AT HOME
Think about this: If you cuss out the driver that cuts you off on the highway, how fast does the little one repeat that phrase? Yeah, you taught them that with ONE exposure. Think how much they are simply sponging up. It is not so difficult as you might think to move from the child learning a word you would rather they did not repeat to them learning words that will expand their vocabulary.
Use the word, dance it, mime it, do something that will make it a game. Kids usually love games. I say “C” then make the sound of the letter, then say, “CAT” and then “meow” This is fun, little children giggle. My husband can actually make a purring noise down in his throat just like a cat!!
I found the language arts materials from Seton Home School to be a joy to use. My children found the material interesting enough and not too onerous. I enjoyed knowing that all the essential points were being addressed and I enjoyed the books themselves. Checking work is so much more fun when the work includes a story.
DO I NEED MONITORING AND MOTIVATING FOR COMPLETED WORK?
You can find out what the laws are in your area from Home School Legal Defense Association. They keep track of the laws in all 50 states and some foreign countries. They also keep lists of home School groups you can join in your area where, hopefully, you will find experienced home school parents to answer questions for you. Joining HSLDA is a worth-while expense in my opinion because if you have problems with the school district (common) they will advise you how to proceed and even step in if needed. This sort of help, even if you end up never needing it, is nice to have.
Some home school curriculum providers also offer grading and monitoring. I never signed up for any monitoring. It was an unneeded expense, after all, I knew if they learned the material or not. Also, it was not required in Texas. It is well within a parent’s abilities to check work and know if the child understood or not. I taught my kids that if they did not want to repeat a lesson then they needed to learn it quick so they would be done with it. Mine learned fast because there was always a reward for correctly completed school work.
We employed a simple rule. If you finished the day’s school work CORRECTLY, then the rest of the day was for you to do as you pleased. Often, that meant my children read about subjects that interested them or went to activities of an extracurricular nature. For my older daughter, this meant she worked hard and focused in the morning and had the entire rest of the day for her own interests. Rarely was she not finished with all her work, done correctly, concepts learned by noon.
Yes, occasionally there would be a randomly filled out workbook page. We erased and did it over with my pointing out how much time they wasted. Faster to do it right once than to have to do it over. Rarely did we have to repeat that lesson.
Yeah, I was a really strict teacher. I demanded they learn the material properly. I did this because basic skills can be applied so many ways in life. Good solid reading skills, to stick with my language arts example, opens the doors to everything! No matter what odd interest your child develops, there are likely some people somewhere who are talking about that topic– and online you need to write and read to participate.
METHODS OF HOME SCHOOL
I used a mix of workbook based materials so I knew and could demonstrate that my children were hitting all the major subjects and unschooling. The workbook portion of the day took very little time. Unschooling is the portion of the day, the bulk of our time, which was completely child directed. What we studied, how we studied it, the unit studies, and field trips, the game club, robotics, martial arts, dance, music, you name it, it was part of the home school because of child interest and my willingness to facilitate. The unschooling aspect of the day also included the children choosing what they wanted to read, or do, without it having to be listed for school. So much learning is done totally apart from formal textbooks and workbooks that making it the bulk of our time served the learning well.
What materials you choose to use will be determined by your budget and what suits your teaching style and the learning styles of your children. There are programs that are largely hands on, and others that are mostly reading. There are methods, such as unschooling, that some people use for their whole entire plan and they let it be radically directed by the interests of their children. Others choose a strong classical approach and include the study of Latin or Greek in their home school with an emphasis on the great books. Other families choose strongly religiously based materials, like my preference for Seton Home School materials, and others make it all work from Unit studies. I loved Unit studies. You CAN make ALL your schooling work from Unit Studies that you purchase and follow, or you can learn about a subject and document the materials used and activities AFTER.
The world of home school is child directed and parent directed and can be whatever you want it to be. Nobody wants a good education and future opportunities for their kids more than you, their parents. You CAN do this.
I hope this blog post encourages someone to teach their own and gain the wonderful benefits that come with having a home school. But even if you don’t, even if you find that a private or public school is the choice of your family, I hope you will understand that you could home school if that had been your choice.