Deciding to homeschool can bring about a freeing, euphoric kind of feeling, which might be followed immediately by the panic of “Oh no, what do I do now?” Here are some tips for getting through the “Oh no!” stage.
Tip number one: Trust yourselves to find the best way to do this.
First, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Maybe two or three would be best. You’ll be fine. Parents everywhere are educating their children at home with outstanding results. They don’t possess any special insight, skills, or knowledge. They simply trust themselves and their children to work out a method for becoming educated while still having a life, and you can do it too!
Tip number two: There is very little “fact,” but lots of opinion masquerading as fact. There are as many ways to homeschool as there are families doing it. Refer back to tip number one!
Second, read and listen, read and listen, read and listen! When you’ve done that you’ll begin to get an idea of what you don’t know, and you can then begin to ask questions. Find others who homeschool and ask them how they do it. Ask to “hang out” with them for a few days. Read some of the materials published about homeschooling, many of which can be found in the public library. Remember that some of the material will contradict what others state as fact.
Tip number three: A plan that makes everyone stressed out or miserable is not a good plan. Be flexible and listen to each other!
Third, discuss your ideas with your children and come up with a consensus for how you will begin. Plan for a “trial period” during which everyone will agree to cooperate to their best ability. Agree to regularly evaluate how it’s going and then decide if you need to make any major changes. It may take several “starts” before you discover your family style.
Tip number four: The longer children have been in school, the longer the transition to self-motivated learning takes. See tip number three!
Fourth, remember that if your children have previously been in a government or private school, homeschooling can be scary. They will most likely need some “down” time in order to adjust. You know your children best and can gauge when or if that time is needed. Many children are exhausted and unused to helping decide their daily activities, and will experience some kind of related stress as a result of the transition to homeschooling.
Tip number five: Giving and receiving support, for children and adults, can make the difference between struggling and soaring!
Fifth, consider joining a support group. Each group has a little different “flavor” or focus. Some have criteria you must meet, but others welcome anyone who cares to join. Some meet for study, some for social events, some for field trips, and some for a combination of activities. You will find parents with whom you can share valuable information and support. Your children will find friends and activities to enhance their social, intellectual, and physical lives. They will interact with children and adults of all ages, and that is the very best atmosphere for learning how to become a social being!
Copyright 1995-2002 Christine Webb