Since we started over 6 years ago, I’ve had many people ask: How do you Homeschool?
Well, that’s a great question! That’s also a very person, yet multi-layered question that has had different answers through the years.
There are so many different methodologies and educational theories to explore. To be honest, it’s wonderful to live in a place with so many options. In the Pacific NW, USA, students can go to public or private schools, take classes, homeschool, or hybridize. There are really so many options. Yay!
So, where do you start if you’re thinking about it? Of which there are more reasons than there are homeschoolers; religious zealots and doomsday preppers are reflective of our society as a whole, not indicative of the majority of homeschoolers I know!
It’s not to say I’m not religious; it’s not to say that I’m not trying to reduce my environmental footprint in many ways, but I do not homeschool for religious reasons alone and I do not homeschool because I’m preparing for the end of world.
We homeschool for a variety of reasons, but essentially: it works for our family.
First, is it legal?
The short answer is yes; the more complete answer is to check the law in your state, but homeschooling is legal in all 50 states in the USA (not so world-wide). I’m not a lawyer. Period. I am not able to give legal advice, but there is a (religious based) organization that does: The Homeschool Legal Defense Association. In Washington State, our non-profit advocate is the Washington Homeschool Organization. I can speak better to the laws in our state, but I’ll save that for another day.
Second, so now what?
Well, this is your turn to your reasons for homeschooling. Homeschooling, generally speaking, is not a choice made in haste, but a choice made with careful consideration. Much like I’ve written before, I believe that every family carefully considers educational choices and paths for their children. I don’t think any parent gives no thought to this. Even my parents, as a child of the 70’s, considered sending me to private school before deciding that the public elementary school down the street was the best choice for my education and our family situation at the time.
I homeschool to follow my the interests of my children.
In my family, our main reason we homeschool, and continue to homeschool, is to better craft an education to fit the interests, needs, and aptitudes of our children. For instance, our children test above grade level in reading and comprehension. Did I mention, I love to read? By extension, my children love to read and to be read to. Keeping up with their reading and comprehension skill sets has been the most challenging part of homeschooling.
As they get older, there are going to be more challenges in subject areas where I am simply not educated. Physics basics? Yes! Advanced circuitry? Not my strong suit. Thank goodness, educating my children isn’t only my responsibility. My husband is also actively involved in our homeschool (soon to be renamed, we’re pondering this over Christmas Break while we have some Margin). He teaches in a more workshop fashion the things he’s passionate about: computers, math modules, Spanish, electronics, wood working, home/car maintenance and repair to name a few. He’s also taken over Read Alouds to allow me more time with my writing (including this blog!) and I’ve given him cart blanc on this, as I do all the educational opportunities he provides them — because, let’s be honest — they’re interested in anything he’s interested in teaching them.
Which brings me to the next reason we homeschool — we find people who are passionate about what they do. Whether we go on a tours or see presentations, these are people who are doing the work they love. (I will upload previous Tours of Theo’s Chocolates, Mighty-O Donut, Or go to the Children’s Film Festival at the Northwest Film Forum, we’re talking to professionals who are doing the work that they love. Simple.
Well, hold on. What if you have multiple children? What if you are a single parent or can’t homeschool?
No worries! You can still follow your children’s interests. When faced with a new challenge, I turn to things my children love to explain. Legos, baking, art, physical activities, games — all are fair when we’re talking education. We’re not confined to a curriculum or a set of plans that must be followed to the letter, we improvise and are agile, ready to change.
For instance, fractions can be tough. Some children may *get it* by working the problems, some need visual clues like baking; we’ve used dominoes, pizza, Legos…you get the idea. There’s more than one way to present and consume information — finding the right way can be time consuming, but seeing the proverbial *lightbulb* go off — and it’s simply rewarding. As a parent, as a student, it’s great to learn. It’s great to understand and take your time to fully comprehend the material before moving on. If you don’t have this luxury in your homeschool or other educational setting, take the time at home — the Margin — to find fun ways to learn. I find the tough stuff is easier if we make it fun and do it together!
Finally, is there more?
Oh yes….so much more! Enough to write books and books, blogs and blogs on!
Holy cow — the number of books I’ve read, blogs I follow, things I’ve tried — things that’ve failed. Yes, there is no one right way to educate any child. With that in mind, there’s certainly no one right way to homeschool. Following your family and children’s goals, in accord to your state regulations, will put you on the right path. Finding support through family, friends, and other homeschoolers will help. Many state and local support groups will have links to other support groups. Bravewriter founder, Julie Bogart, has a great periscope on not letting the nay-sayers get you down…can’t find it on her katch.me site, but I’m likely overlooking it! Let me know if you see it!
Most people I know in the Pacific NW belong to at least 2. Or 3. Don’t expect any one group to fulfill all your needs for all your people; just like we don’t expect any one person to fulfill our personal needs, we have to try out new groups, new experiences, new things and find the right fit for where we are in our season of teaching, our children’s seasons of learning.
It’s never perfect, but much like cleaning house, I’m constantly refocusing on what’s working for us and recycling (or storing!) what’s not working or necessary now.
How do you homeschool? Educate?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”