Clueless About Homeschooling? ~Heidi Totten

By December 30, 2014Main Blog
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Clueless About Homeschooling?  Start with The Homeschool System

Homeschooling in the past has been seen as a family living off the grid with chickens and a big garden. In the crazy garden party that is now homeschooling, everyone gets a lemonade and socializes! Homeschooling can be challenging, but not in the way that most people think. Often parents ask themselves the question:
“If my kids are driving you crazy, will I know how to handle it?”
Whether you’re a veteran or a brand new homeschooling family, there are some essential things you will want to know when you get started.

Here are four ways to approach homeschooling like a pro, starting with deschooling and ending with The Homeschool System.

1. Get your family “deschooled”.

Deschooling is a term used by homeschoolers to define that initial stage that every family goes through when their child leaves public school.

With deschooling, you simply want your family to start creating a new rhythm of learning as quickly as possible. You want your children to feel the freedom of being able to create their own education.

Deschooling can take a few months up to a year depending on how long you have had your children in a public school. There are ways to help the transition!

Here are a few ideas:

  • Let the kids sleep in (and you, too!)  Remember that there is no need to get up at 6:00am to start the learning process.
  • Allow the kids to explore what they want to learn at the library. Go with no agenda, and just let them choose what books look interesting to them. This goes for the higher grades, too!
  • See what the kids do when they don’t have someone forcing them to learn. Maybe that’s watching TV for awhile, or playing video games all day. That’s OK. There’s no wrong thing to do.
  • Let go of “societal norms”.  You get to choose what culture you create in your homeschool!

2. Simplify your curriculum

When I first started homeschooling, I went crazy buying curriculum, worksheets, and spent our 401 (k) on printer’s ink.  It would have been nice to do more research!

heidi homeschoolThese days our homeschool area is reduced to a former changing table that my brother-in-law built when my son was born.

And we actually rarely use it.  It sits next to a table that occasionally gets used for Math and Handwriting, but most of the time we are sprawled on couches or in my office on the computer.

So what do you really need?
Books!  Books, books, books!  And your favorite Math curriculum.  My preference is Teaching Textbooks, but we have also used Math U See in the past.  I like the flexibility of it and I love that it has both cds and a workbook and the answer book.

This year, we are using Brave Writer for Language Arts, which I love so far.  We also use Handwriting Without Tears for writing, because I’m still a big believer in the need to develop the connections in the brain used for handwriting.
For History, we often read biographies, but we also love The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer.  And this year we are doing Science in the Beginning for our Science curriculum.Simplifying your homeschool really does allow you to focus on why you brought your children home – to spend more time with them!  Trust me, they will fill in the gaps themselves.  Often they just need us to get out of their way.
3. Strengthen their ability to do things themselves

This is, perhaps, the most essential tip that I can give you.  My mama always says, “Self-esteem comes when a child learns how to do something themselves.”  She’s right.  And now that you are homeschooling, you have time to teach them how to do the things they will need to do when they are no longer under your wing.  Things like:

  • Dishes
  • Laundry
  • Cooking
  • Yardwork
  • Budgeting

Yes, I know you can do all of these things when your child is in public school!  However, if you incorporate it into your curriculum, it becomes a natural part of your day, instead of rushing around trying to get it all done between soccer and gymnastics.

4. Find a Homeschool System that works for you

Some people love writing things down.  Others like online systems to manage their day.

Whatever you use, find a homeschool system that incorporates dailies, weeklies, and monthlies.  Why?

I have so many friends who homeschool and their biggest challenge is getting organized.  They check on Pinterest every day for ideas, but pinning something and implementing a system are two different things!

The Homeschool System I use includes:

  • A Learning Plan that is customizable for each child.
  • A Success section so that you can track all of the things they have done.
  • A Future Projects section for ideas that you have for later.
  • A Resources area for when you find great websites.
  • An area that trains you how to sit down and have mentoring sessions with each child to better understand what they want to learn.
  • An Ultimate Grocery Shopping List (seriously!)
  • And all of the training you need.

It’s time to get technical

Consider this a *Bonus Tip.  Several years ago my husband and I decided that we would create a joint Google Calendar so that we could have access to all of our activities, and be able to keep our schedule organized.  It has been a life-saver.  I put everything down that I am doing for homeschooling or business, and that has kept him sane so that he doesn’t schedule something unknowingly.  Just do it!

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