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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

To The New Homeschooler

- How True This Is -

I have noticed a lot of questions on forums and social media, from new homeschoolers about schedules and homeschool in general.

I have a few posts already at the left side in a drop box, but I also want to offer a few more brief tips for the new homeschoolers and share example on schedule ideas. I may be recapping a tip or two and that is ok.

Tip #1 @ #2

As you begin your journey in homeschooling, first and foremost, PRAY.. BREATHE.. RELAX.. and take it SLOW, with daily - step-by-steps! Understand there is NO hurry to cram everything in to one day. After all, you are a homeschooler and TIME is ON YOUR SIDE! It is yours! Own it and relax...

----------- >>> Coming out of a public school?  --------- >>> First thing is first! Time for a School DETOX! What do I mean by this?

If you are coming out of a public school system, the first thing you will want to go through is a detox from public school! GET OUT of the Public School Agenda/Routine. Understand that you are no longer on public school time.

  • Yes, your kids may give you a hard time as they go through there own detox. 
  • Yes, you may want to pull your hair out. 
  • Yes, you may reconsider sending them back to public school.
  • Yes, your children may get frustrated.
  • Yes, you and your family WILL find the right way for your homeschool and things WILL get better! This just takes time and a lot of patience...

Honestly, think about it! Have you ever gone through a detox or fast? How hard is it to detox your body or fast? If it is your first time, it is extremely hard! Can anyone of us honestly give up our favorites cold turkey for X amount of days? HaHa! I think not! It is truly a test and you will go through many tests on your homeschool journey, as the rest of us before you.

Tell yourself and remember this...
"I am NOT alone!, I am NOT the only homeschool parent to have gone through the battles I face daily!, Homeschool IS a Challenge that EVERY HOMESCHOOL Family WILL Face, Battle and OVERCOME!, I AM STRONG, I HAVE GOALS and I WILL OVERCOME these obstacles! --- I AM NOT ALONE - Other's have walked this same road - ahead of me...."

Homeschool is FULL of challenges, just like life. Every corner holds something new. Lessons to be learned, Obstacles to overcome. Many of us have homeschooled while having little ones running around, a lot of us have taken our children out of the public school system. Some of us have big families, some small, some very large. No matter who you are, there is always going to be someone out there who has experienced something you are going through or may be facing ahead. I mean after all over 2 million families are homeschooling today - all over the world! ------ >>> YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Coming out of a public school you are going to need to get out of the public school routine. From this parent to an other, We removed our oldest from the public school system at 4th grade. Take this advice from me ---->>> DO NOT follow a schedule similar or to the T of the Public Schools.
If you are detoxing my best advice is RELAX. Take it easy and DO NOT OVER CRAM your day! TIME is YOURS! Take a break..

What? Wait! Did I just say, "Take a break?" HaHa! YUP! I said it! "Take a break!" Depending when you pulled your child out of the PS, there is no need to make your detox time any harder then it already will be. If you are coming out in the middle of the school year, it is ok to take a month off before jumping back in to school. Think about it, you will have a lot of planning and preparing to do. I have heard some homeschool vets say that they took up to 3 mos off after pulling their child out. Wow! I have heard other's say they have taken a couple weeks off and even though it was a couple weeks off, when they got back to school they didnt fill their day up doing everything. They only covered what they felt were most important like continuing math, spelling and reading daily.

Understand that everyone is different AND that is OK! We pulled our oldest out at the end of the year so I had practically the whole summer to prepare. Even then we still had detoxing going on in our first year of homeschool, IT WAS HORRENDOUS! I wanted to pull my hair out! Listen, I will be honest and you can bank that every VETERAN homeschooler has said this, " Your FIRST and SECOND year of homeschool will be a trying time." Yes you will have a rough couple of years adjusting and trying to find what works best for your homeschool. Some have a rough 3 years. But in general the first two years are fairly difficult. So YOUR NOT the only one experiencing - all that you are today!

When you go to schedule your day --- DO NOT OVER LOAD IT! (I'll share an example (or 2) of a schedule below at the bottom of this post. Remember this is just an example, it does not mean you have to follow it.)

More importantly -- Always, Always, Always, REMEMBER THIS:
"WHAT WORKS FOR ONE FAMILY, DOES NOT MEAN IT WILL WORK FOR YOUR FAMILY!  Experiment and find what works and what dont!"
Every family is DIFFERENT! Just because one person gives you an idea, a curriculum they like, a schedule they use, DOES NOT mean that this is going to work well with your family!
YES, TRY IT OUT! I encourage you to test these ideas, because that is the only way you will find out what will work best for you and your family! I will tell you this, It IS OK to experiment your first two years off and on, be careful not to over do it though. You want to find out what works best for your family! Always keep in mind that you will experiment all through out your homeschool journey. What works one year may not work the next year or it may now work with an other child. Every child learns differently.

A NOTE: Every Vet before you has and will experiment through out their school journey, just as you will! Homeschool is a journey and not always will your homeschool journey be the way that you plan it to be. There is always going to be a BUMP in the road, a curve around every corner. It IS OK to change things up at ANY TIME! Even if it is in the middle of the school year. IF SOMETHING IS NOT WORKING, CHANGE IT AND FIND WHAT WILL WORK BEST FOR YOU, YOUR CHILD/STUDENT, YOUR FAMILY! Again I note --- not always is it a good thing to change something every day. But certainly, if there is something not clicking for your family and every time you try to work it there is a war, huge struggle to get through it, obviously, something needs to change. Take a break and fix it.

--- TIP --- Can I just say, that with the older children, IT IS OK to ask them what they like and what they do not like? Ask them what they would like to see change. Include them on ways to improve your schooling. That does not mean they are getting their way,  because some ideas that they may toss at you are just simply unacceptable.

However, if you are open and honest with them and you would be willing to listen to them speak openly and honestly to you, I have found that in most cases they will come back and openly tell you what is not clicking with them or what they would like to try or see changed. As a parent you will see from their end why they are struggling and you may just get an idea that may be the fixer to all your problems. Not only this, you are helping to build communication between you and your child. After all it is really hard for parents to listen to a child. BE honest, how many of us have actually listened, I mean truly listened and heard our child(ren) speak from their heart?

Some parents will disagree, but as a parent who has done this with her older and younger children and has had some success, I am voicing an idea that will help you find or pinpoint the direction of the problem and work towards a solution together as a family.

I have always given every new homeschooler this thought to ponder, well ya could say thoughts:
"When you were in school, What did you like and dislike about school? Who was your favorite teacher and why? What classes did you do well in and what classes did you fail in? Why? IF you were your child and doing their school, What would your dislike and like be? What would you change?"
After all, every kid, (yourself at one time included) is bored quite easily. Most kids learn best by staying involved, motivated, challenged... I can go on...  Every child learns differently, but MOST children learn best when they are doing some sort of hands-on-learning... And I am one of many parents that will say INCLUDE HANDS-ON-LEARNING for all your students, no matter what their age... Learning should be INSPIRING, FUN, ENGAGING and ENCOURAGING.. I can go on. That does not mean always have fun and no serious learning. It's simply balancing Serious with Fun learning.

Keep in mind, Every student has a different learning style. If you have more then one child, you are going to have more then one different kind of learner. I suggest you test each child to find out what type of learner they are. Doing this will also help you in finding the best curriculum for them as well as help you in finding the best teaching style for them. (you can find free online learning style tests at the left of the screen in the drop boxes).

TIP #3
Every family is different. Keep that in mind. Again noting that just because this curriculum works best for Family A does not mean it will work best for your family. Explore and experiment, this will be one way to help you find out what works best for your family. You may find a pattern that helps for several years and the come across a year where that pattern or path simply is not working and something needs to be change. That is when you will need to explore and experiment with other options. Some families work best with unit studies, others lapbooks, others hit the books hard and others have more hands on learning then curriculum. No one family schools the same. Remember there are various types of homeschoolers. Don't try to be like so and so, you will only be making it harder on yourself and your family.

When making your schedule, understand every homeschool family schools differently.

  • Some school Mon - Fri
  • Some school Mon - Thurs
  • Some school Tues - Fri
  • Some school for 3 hours
  • Some school for 6 hours
  • Some break their curriculum up working one subject 2-3x a week
Every homeschool schedule is different. Our homeschool is Mon-Thurs. Our time varies. Sometimes we zip through our day working a total of 4 hours. Other days we may be so involved that we just want to keep working so we go 6 hours or more. (Yes sometimes we get a little too involved and have a little too much fun!) Every day is different and that is ok. It keeps school interesting.

I do keep Fridays open for arrands, appointments or Field Trip outings. Weekends are also open. However, for the younger learners and even the older ones, I do encourage setting 30 mins a day or night (your choice), Mon-Fri, to devote time towards reading for at least 15 minutes and reviewing spelling words - test review  or devotionals. This keeps the mind learning and it is also great recaping.

Although I could go on with more tips, these are the ones for the moment I wanted to cover briefly.

Ideas of schedules can look like this: With the four main subjects being, Math, Science, History and English. (add extra curric anywhere in between. I will note I have noted also some of the little ones learning subjects). You can substitute however, but this atleast gives you an idea.

If you want to break subjects up, Work 2 - 3 days a week on subjects, you can try:

Mon, Wed, Fri ---- English, Science, Writing
Tues, Thurs ---- Reading, History, English

Daily working ---- Math

If you are schooling 4 days a week you could try something like this, adding extra curric in where ever. Remember it all depend on your family, your curriculum and TIME is on your side.

Mon, Wed, Thurs -- English,  History
Tues -- English, Science

Daily working --- Math

You can improvise your schedule or tweak it any way you want or need to. As I mentioned we homeschool 4 days a week.

Of our week, we do the noted daily:

  • Bible Devotion or Character Building
  • Math
  • Phonics (Little ones - I believe it is important to keep a daily recap)
  • Writing --Be it journaling or copywork. (younger/older writing)
  • nightly reading, spelling or testing review   

At least 3 times a week we work:

  • Science
  • English 
  • History
  • Spelling - for my elementary is ::  Monday write each word 3x each :: Wed is recap day - We will go over each word together -- See and Say the word, Spell the word, cover the word and try to say/spell the word by memory, which will prepare for test day on Thurs. (Sounds strict to some, others it may not be strict enough. Again noting nightly reviewing).
These are just a few of many, many different kinds of schedules. Again, what works for our family, will not always work for yours.

Last TIP I note:

When you are homeschooling, I encourage you to keep away from the following temptaions that leur you to distractions:

  • Computer Play: NO Checking your emails, social media accounts or goofing off
  • Do not take phone calls unless it is an emergency
  • Let family and friends know you are homeschooling between the hours of (set your time) so that you do not have unexpected visitors dropping in while you are schooling. Easy way to end your day
  • No texting - unless an emergency.
  • TV, Radio, Tablets or other Technical devices put to sleep or turn OFF
  • Keep things out of reach that will easily distract your children
  • Wait for your breaks to do any of the above, unless it is an absolute emergency. The more distracted you are the less you will accomplish... Try your best to stay focused.
Remember eyes are watching you, be the example your kiddo's need to accomplish your day.. Take the break when you need it, dont wait for the explosions

I hope this helps some of the new schoolers as the journey to homeschool begins. Again I speak PEACE over you. Take your time, set goals, make lists/notes if it helps. But most imporantly, relax. Your not the only homeschool parent to walk this road. WE all have been there.. YOU CAN DO THIS! YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE TO HAVE CHALLENGES KNOCK YOU DOWN! Brush your self off and get back up, you will be ok. YOU ARE NOT DEFEATED! 

Come join other homeschool mommas/daddies/grandparents at the homeschool lounge or find local social media sites to join.

Happy Schooling and Welcome to the Homeschool Family! God Bless your school year as you begin your journey and adventure Here is to many memories with your children and their learning.

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