Homeschooling: Can I Really Do This?

Am I capable?  I'm not a certified teacher.

Can I do this?
I know this idea flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but You have always been your children's teacher.  You are the first and best teacher for your children, because you know their strengths and weaknesses intimately. If you are not strong in particular subject, you will find a way for your kids to learn what they need to.  I will touch more on this later, but I have learned a great deal right along with my kids.  They like it when mom learns with them. 

Will there be "holes" in their education?

Many new homeschoolers get caught up in thinking, "Will there be holes in their education?" The answer is, "Yes and no."  The fact is, there is no perfect education.  The most effective tools you can give your children are:
1) How to find information.
2) How to use information to accomplish their goals.
3) How to communicate information to others. 
If you accomplish this, you will have prepared them well for college, and for life. Furthermore, if  your children  enjoy learning, they will be lifelong learners. What a wonderful gift to give your kids!

But, I don't have money for curriculum.

I am amazed by what is available now for homeschooling families.  There is A LOT on the internet, specifically---Much of it free.  I have included some recommendations, later in this post, for free, complete curriculum you can find online.  Are you near a library?  We use the library a lot, not only for personal reading, but also for reference books.  I have really appreciated the reference books available to me from the library, because they are expensive!  Another resource I have enjoyed from the library is educational videos.  I have tried to use as many methods I can think of when feeding my children information---and they enjoy the visual element offered by videos.

Where should I start?

It is not imperative that you have it all worked out before you begin.  Following are three sites that are perfect for homeschoolers starting out, because all the prep work is done for you---and they are totally free!   A totally complete, totally free curriculum you can look at is Head of the Class.  Head of the class provides lesson plans, printable worksheets and activities by grade level.  Another one, but it will probably require a little more work on your part (in preparation time) though it is all spelled out for you,  is Lesson Pathways.  Lesson Pathways uses resources and sites all over the internet, all free.  A third site you might look into is Ambleside Online.  Ambleside provides a completely free curriculum and complete lesson plans, but it is in the "Charlotte Mason" method, which is wonderful, but a little different from your typical "school" method.  The Charlotte Mason method uses a combination of nature study through exploration, classical literature and narration.  I have moved more toward this method in my own teaching, because it seems very natural to me.  It's yours to decide what will best work for you.  When I first started, I didn't know what that was, so if that's how you feel, starting with the simplest is best. You can "tweak" things later, as you discover how your children best learn. 

Am I all alone?

Oh heavens, no!  There are many homeschoolers out there, now.  Some, like you, are just starting out.  Some, like me, have been homeschooling for decades. No matter where you are in your homeschooling journey, finding support is really important.  Having a support group to turn to when you have questions, or when you have a bad day is essential.  These are the folks who will lift you up when you feel like you can't go on, and will rejoice with you when you experience a victory.  Remember that subject I mentioned, the one you might not be very strong in?  This is also the place to go with those kinds of things.  Perhaps math isn't your strongest subject, but you can teach writing without breaking a sweat.  There will be someone else out there whose needs compliment yours.  We must lean on the homeschooling community, not only to glean the strength and encouragement we need, but to provide that to others as well. 

If you live in an area without a support group nearby, I have provided some resources where you can find online support.  Simply click the button below.  You will be redirected to my post on finding a support groups.  There are lots of links there.  Below that is my "Comments" button.  I would love to hear from you!
Click here!
Comments? I love them!

Facilitating Social Development

Many people, when they hear that we homeschool, see an opportunity to ask the burning question: "What about socialization?"  We encounter this query less frequently than we used to, but it still comes up pretty regularly.  It is important to understand that our children can be well adjusted socially, but the social development through homeschooling is usually very different in appearance than that of a public or even privately-schooled child.

When I am posed with curiosity regarding our social exploits, the answer I normally give is this:  "Well, let me ask you a question.  What do your children do during the summer?"  The usual response goes something like this:  "My kids play baseball, or swim with the swim team, or play with their friends in the neighborhood."

These people are typically shocked to hear me say:  "That's what my children do too---All year.  They play soccer, and volleyball, go to Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, play with neighborhood friends, have sleep-overs and host lemonade stands.  We add to that our homeschool group activities, Lego club, chess club, speech and debate and youth group at our church.  Our social plates are
full.  In fact, I would say my biggest challenge is saying 'No' to social opportunities!" 

Our experience may differ slightly from other homeschooling families, but I would not say it is by any means unusual.  According to the HSLDA, data on homeschool students' activities and community involvement reveal that, on average, these children are engaged in 5.2 activities outside the home, with 98% involved in two or more.

Possibly the most significant differences in the social development of a homeschooled child is 1) They are not limited to playing with
only peers in their age group and 2) They are not peer-dependent. 
The idea that kids must be with friends daily is a belief perpetuated by the public school system.  Homeschooled children are much more likely to be content during those times in which they must entertain themselves or play with siblings.

Consequently, homeschooled children are much less likely to become peer-driven.  Unlike many of their publicly schooled peers, who  become so fixed on the opinions of their classmates, that they will not chose their clothes or make decisions without first asking their friends.  Anyone who has attended public school has experienced this.  The kid in school who marches to the beat of his own drummer is rare.  Homeschooled children tend to be less peer-driven.  Thinking for themselves & confident in their interests.

We have been involved in some really wonderful circumstances that my children would not have had if they had been in school from 8 am until 3 pm.  We have had many volunteer opportunities, which I value tremendously.  My children have been able to learn firsthand that they are very privileged (even though our family lives on a budget) and there are many people in this world who have significantly less than they do.  We have found ourselves in fortunate happenstances through seemingly insignificant activities.  At one time, my children and I regularly attended a local farmer's market, and my son was invited to learn how to make kettle corn with a merchant we had come to know there.  My daughter earned free horseback riding lessons by volunteering at a stable that gave low-cost lessons to disabled children.  The list of experiences we have encountered by our flexible schedule and willingness to try new things is too lengthy to catalog here!

I guess what it boils down to is this:  If you provide ample opportunities for your children, and encourage them to step outside of their comfort zone the possibilities are endless.

Socialization: Rules vs. Respect

In her insightful article, Julie Ann Sih discusses socialization and social codes learned by homeschooled children verses their institutionally-schooled peers.