by LAURA CZERWINSKI
Now that I’ve shared some things that can help you get started, here are some additional handrails to guide you along the way.
Five suggestions of what to do and what not to do when schooling at home:
- Move on if your curriculum plan isn’t working for you. If you or your child continually get frustrated or stuck with what you are working with, try tweaking it a bit or STOP. Don’t stick with it just because you’ve already paid for it or planned around it. You can sell, consign or simply give it to another family for whom it may be a perfect fit. It’s more ‘expensive’ to continue to use something that isn’t benefiting your child.
- Involve your kids in the direction of their education whenever possible. When going to the library, encourage them to ask the librarian questions about where to find something. Time to move on to the next subject during a lesson? Ask them, should we work on math or spelling next? This helps them to give them a small sense of control of their learning experience.
- Seek out the wisdom of others. Don’t worry if there is a topic that comes up that you don’t know a lot about. Take time to research it. Look for online tutorials or reach out to your local librarian. (Librarians are true heroes and can be one of your best resources!) If necessary, hire a tutor for a particular subject. Some families even trade off some topics. One parent may specialize in art while another has excellent skills in mathematics.
- Plan educational activities outside the home. Weekly music lessons at a music school, PE classes at your town’s rec center, or occasional field trips to a local museum or zoo can all be a part of the experience.
- Stay up to date! Remember to update your records with the state to verify that you have administered their yearly exams.
- Getting everyone’s approval: Don’t get discouraged by those that don’t agree with your decision to school your child at home. They likely don’t have all the information that you do about the process and may only be familiar with traditional means of education. It’s kind of you to offer to share more, but it’s ok to politely change the subject if it feels like the conversation is turning into a debate.
- Feeling that you have to complete every planned activity every day. There will be challenging days where your kids just may not make a connection to what you are trying to go over with them. They (or YOU) may be tired, stressed, sick, etc. It happens to everyone, even in traditional school settings. Some lessons may take longer to complete. Life will throw you curveballs, too. Have patience, be flexible and go with the flow. Planning a little flex time in your schedule can help with this, too.
- Aim for perfection: Panic should not ensue if your house isn’t perfectly clean every day. Sadly, we can’t add time to our days, we just have to make the best use of the time we do have. If that means spending more of it reading together and less of it vacuuming, I’d say that’s an EXCELLENT use of time!
- Overspending: You should not feel that you have to spend a small fortune on materials. You can get things at consignment stores (The Homeschool Room in Huntersville is a GREAT place to check out for this) or exchange items with other families. Again, the public libraries in our area are loaded with wonderful resources too! In addition, our family finds a lot of free downloads online. Simple google searches can be your personal valet for opportunities that can help you the most!
- “Comparison is the death of joy.” – Mark Twain This one is hard. I mean REALLY hard. But it’s also pretty important. Everyone wants to do right by their child and it is natural to want to compare techniques you are implementing and how your child is progressing vs others. We all want to feel that we are on track towards a common graduation endgame. However, constantly comparing yourself to other families whose journeys are totally different from yours would be adding undue stress to say the least. Not comparing your experience with others is probably one of the most common pieces of advice you will get from others who school at home.
Next month: Simple Schooling at Home: Lake Norman Style