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Monday, June 14, 2010

Creating your own homeschool

"How do I start?" "How much time does homeschooling take?" "How much money do I need to homeschool?" "What curriculum should I use?"

These are questions I hear again and again from parents as they approach the idea of homeschooling. Often these parents are in a position where they feel they must homeschool with limited financial resources, and so have a sense of desperation about finding the answers.

Homeschooling can be scary, since it is so far off the beaten path. Homeschooling isn't hard. Well, it isn't any harder than parenting, which you're already doing.

My advice applies to more than just homeschooling -

Keep your goals and principles in the forefront of your mind.

Search out like minded friends and give and accept support.

Get involved in your community.

Give yourself time and room to make mistakes and learn from them.

When I first thought of homeschooling an experienced homeschooling mom asked me questions that befuddled me. She asked "Why are you homeschooling?" and then "What are your goals?".

I realized that the answers to those questions always lead me in the right direction. Rather than homeschooling from a recipe (curriculum) we homeschool from scratch, based on principles and goals. Sometimes we have used a curriculum or book series, but we used them as fit our goals and principles, not necessarily as proscribed.

So, I would suggest that you ask yourself and your child - what are our goals? Long term for adulthood, midterm for youth, short term for this year, this month, this week, this day... Then with a list of goals in hand head off to the library and see what they have. Find books on subjects your child is interested in, look for books that have projects and puzzles in them. Use the library computer to get on line and find some resources that interest you.

Every day read with your child, talk about stuff - the books you read, a bird you saw, local events, etc... (This goes for older kids too!) Find local events and attend together. In the summer many communities have free concerts, festivals, and other happenings. Your public library might be a good place to start looking for those. Consider volunteering for your favorite charity or service group. There are some that will take a parent with child(ren) for certain activities.

Help your child discover their favored learning styles. Work together to find and create educational resources. This process will teach your children skills they can use forever in self education.

Find and get involved in your local homeschooling group. Collectively you will have many more resources than you have individually, and the support from other families is priceless.

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