Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Homeschool III: Putting it into Practice

What are your options with homeschooling?

  • Part time homeschool:
    • Go to school for a few classes, homeschool the rest of the time
  • Multi-children options:
    • Homeschool only the children that it seems to benefit. Maybe one of your children learns great at school and doesn’t want to homeschool (perhaps after a trial period), and another child works best on their own and thrives in a homeschool setting. Send one to school and keep the other home.
  • Trial homeschool:
    • Taking your kids out of school for a year at a time. Give them time to catch up if they need to, recover from a distressing period in their life (death of a family member, close friend, etc), use as a trial to see if homeschooling works best for your family.
  • Full time homeschool:
    • Unschooling
      • Not structured to imitate a school setting. Lots of freedom for when and what you study, focus on interest and curiosity-fueled learning. Learning through real life: grocery-shopping, meal planning, gardening, volunteering, etc. To read more about this, read books by John Holt...or Google it:-)
    • Mini-school
      • A school structure in the home. Example: desks, structured lessons, routine, worksheets, tests, etc. (In my opinion, if you're going to do this, you might as well just send your kids to school)
    • Both
      • Sometimes you have a schedule and structure, sometimes you give freedom to explore

"So, my kids are home. Now what do I do?"

There are SO many resources to help you. Your greatest ally will be your local library. Here are just a few ideas to get you going.

You can go online and see the laws for your state as to what subject are required to be taught. This does not mean they have to be taught like they would be in school. This is the whole point of homeschooling-doing something other than school. So, one of the requirements is science. How can you teach science? How can you get your kids interested in science? Well…do they like food? Yes. So you can teach them how to grow their own food. Give them a space for gardening, and use every aspect of gardening as an opportunity for teaching science. What does a seed need in order to grow? Sun. Why does it need sun?

Photo from wendyr at eHow.com

Here is when you can teach the process of photosynthesis, or give them books and let them read about it, then have them teach YOU about photosynthesis. OR you can watch a documentary on National Geographic about the process and have your kids teach you about it after, or you can go on a field trip to a local nursery and have an expert teach your kids about it. There are just unlimited options here. I think that’s why I’m personally interested in homeschooling. I’m a creative person and I love all of the options!

Even if you don’t consider yourself a “creative” person, you can still successfully homeschool. Become friends with your librarian. Talk to them about what sort of subjects you want to teach and ask them to help you find resources. It’s their job! That relationship can be very helpful.

Another subject I’m becoming more passionate about is bilingualism. Did you take Spanish or French classes starting in high school? How much of it do you remember now? Here’s a thought: start your kids early. In many cities (like Portland), public school districts offer language immersion programs. Another option for homeschooling would be to send your child to that type of school for the part of the day that is taught in the foreign language, and homeschool the other portion of the day. Even though it’s incredibly helpful, you do not have to be bilingual in order for your kids to be. This is a whole other subject for a future post, but I just wanted to throw that in here.

In the previous post (Homeschool II: Advantages and Disadvantages) I listed several resources that I’ve found very informative and inspiring. I encourage you to find those books at your local library or buy them online if you’re interested in learning more about homeschooling.

Now I want to hear from you. Are there any questions/concerns about homeschooling I haven’t addressed in the past 3 posts that you’d like to discuss? Would you like to share your experience with homeschooling? Please feel free to leave a comment!

My next post will be about bi/multilingualism in children and how you can raise your children to be bilingual (and why you should consider it)-even if you’re not!

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