It is that time of year…the time when parents start to think about homeschooling! Contracts may be due back at private school, or you may be interested in not sending your child to school next year. You have thought about homeschooling, read some things on the Internet, but you are still deciding.
I am very pro-homeschooling. Specifically, I am very pro Waldorf homeschooling, bur this is directed toward anyone investigating homeschooling, no matter what method they intend to use (although you may see my leanings come out here and there, LOL!)
1. Find out the laws in your state! Many times parents are panicked about “homeschooling” their small children, only to find out the law in their state says that compulsory schooling starts at age six or something. You need to know the laws, how to file for homeschooling, what the requirements are and if you really need to be doing anything other than living together at all!
2. If you don’t know what method you are going to use to homeschool, you must investigate. Go to your library, or on-line and look at ALL the options. Really understand what drives some of these methods if their is an underlying philosophy, and look BEYOND the Kindergarten years if you only have small children. Homeschool is NOT about re-creating a classroom in your house (although some people do!)…There are many, many advantages to homeschooling and using the home as a learning environment – things can be much more practical and hands-on than in a classroom. You can involve a lot of cooking, gardening, building, hands-on science. Please do, (and this is just my basis coming out, so fair warning), think about more than just worksheets or “school in a box” or “a math program.” Think about human development, think about a holistic approach.
3. Understand that if your child is coming home from school OR if you are switching homeschooling methods, it can take six months (or some estimates say two months for every month your child was in school even!) to really relax into homeschooling. So my advice is to start SIMPLE, and to plan to time around holidays, family trips, etc.
4. If you have very small children, consider the approach you want to take carefully and how you feel about when and how academics should be introduced. How do you feel about art, music, movement, nature? Are these things integral to you and to your child’s development? Is your approach regarding education more a “fill them up” or “it will unfold with support”?
5. Start with establishing a basic rhythm to your home with mealtimes, nap times, bedtimes, outside time, working together – part of schooling at home means helping with meals, cleaning up the house, etc. Those things are part of school and of life.
6. Please, please do understand that the “pre-K” through second grade phase can be pretty relaxed. Look at the standards for your state or neighboring states; skills are just being developed. I find many parents freak out a bit with their first child (or they have a little person in Kindergarten who thinks they need to keep up with big brothers and big sisters!) and are just not relaxed at all and are much too strict and moving too fast. Develop depth and flexibility in your teaching. Learning should be fun!
Please add your suggestions for parents, especially for those with very small children, in the comment box; I would love to hear from you!