When you mention homeschooling, many people instantly imagine denim jumpers, large families, and kids sitting around the kitchen table with textbooks all day. The reality is a little more… realistic. There are endless ways to homeschool, as well as countless reasons to do so. There definitely aren’t any typical homeschool families. Unless “different” counts as “typical.”
I’m a member of several homeschooling groups and email loops, and the most common questions are all related to, “It’s a battle to get my child to do her work. I thought homeschooling would be better for my child, but it’s all tears and yelling. For both of us. I may have to put her back in school.”
The specifics vary, but many parents new to homeschooling are trying to recreate a public school environment in their home and finding that it doesn’t work. It’s not their fault. Most of us went to public school; it’s what we know. We’re taught that this is the only way to get an education. That children won’t learn if we don’t tell them what to learn and force them do so. We shouldn’t be surprised when we find homeschooling not working under these circumstances. Continue reading »
Everybody knows that your kids should be up early hitting the books, right? Homeschooling goes better if Mom is organized and has lessons prepared for first thing in the morning. Homeschooling works well when kids focus on academics when they’re fresh, and they get to play when they’ve completed their school work.
Homeschooling at any other time of day is risking disaster.
That’s the conventional wisdom, anyway.
However, sometimes homeschooling at night makes more sense than the conventional wisdom. That can even include “nightschooling” – focusing all or part of your homeschooling efforts during the evening hours. Continue reading »
The Homeschool Calendar: New homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers frequently wonder about whether the “homeschool year” follows or needs to follow the traditional calendar used by most public and private schools in the United States. Long-term homeschoolers frequently find their answer to that question changes as their children get older. Casual observers of homeschooling might think “of course” homeschooling has to follow a school calendar in order to be legitimate and sufficient.
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I support school choice. Unlike politicians who advocate school choice, I am not referring to vouchers and tax credits. No, when I say school choice, I am referring to the right and responsibility that each parent has to direct the education of their own children. As a homeschooler, you may think it’s obvious that an editor of a homeschool newsletter would support school choice. To that, I would ask you to consider what school choice means to you and whether you truly support school choice for other parents no matter what their choices are. Continue reading »
Some people just aren’t textbook people! What do you do if your homeschooler learns by living, instead of studying textbooks? What if your child soaks up knowledge like a sponge, without being directed in any way? Can you still create a serious-looking high school transcript?
“I always thought the idea of teaching was highly overrated. I was more interested that my kids learned.” ~Lee Binz
Stop Teaching and Start Learning – Do you sometimes long for an “escape from teaching?” I sure did, especially as my kids got a little older. The good news is that your days playing the “teacher” role will someday come to an end. Instead your role will evolve to that of a “learning facilitator.” Continue reading »
My husband and I have no qualms about our style of parenting, which is so tied up in home education. He grew up beside his father in a greenhouse. Our first apartment at 500 sq ft, had 31 houseplants in it. He now works as a landscape designer. So we understand this analogy: Children are like little plants. You take the seed and put it in a little cup of the best topsoil. You give it lots of light. You gently sprinkle it with drops of water so the delicate leaves aren’t broken. When it gets a decent root system, you transplant it to a bigger pot. You protect it from the wind and the hottest sun. You bring it in when there’s a freeze. You don’t put it out where the dog will trample it or a deer will eat the buds. When it’s well-established, and the season is right, you can transplant it finally to its place outside your home. Then it will do well on its own in the downpours and coldest winters. Continue reading »
Despite the fact that there are over 100 Waldorf schools and kindergartens in the USA (and about 1000 more in countries as diverse as Mexico, Latvia, France, Germany, Israel, India and Egypt), Waldorf education is not well known. Indeed, amongst homeschoolers, those of us who work with Waldorf are almost invisible! My hope is to address this imbalance and to help get the word out about a form of education which others might find beneficial to their children. Continue reading »
One of the goals of Christian home schooling families is to raise our children to be God-Directed learners… that means not just self-motivated, but led by the Holy Spirit. At first, whether you are starting out with a young child, or if you are just bringing your children home after months or years of institutionalized education, they will NOT be Spirit-led learners, or even independent learners. If they have been in school, then they have learned to open their minds like little birds open their beaks, and wait for someone to cram some knowledge down into their brains, and before they have even digested that morsel of knowledge, open up for the next spoonful. Even if they are home schooled the whole time, they are not able to consistently reason until between the ages of 8-10. This is not bad; this is normal. But how do we guide our children from the dependent learning stage to self-motivated learning, and then on to being God-Directed? Continue reading »
Those who incorporate the reading of ancient classical authors, and declare this to be of the very essence of any education which could be styled as Classical, are actually referring to what might better be called a Classical Humanist Education. The Applied Trivium, on the other hand, is more interested in teaching by the same educational principles and toward the same educational goals as the ancients than in teaching the same literature as the ancients. Continue reading »
A liberal education awakens the soul of a child. Liberal means a full and generous curriculum. After a thirty-year experiment, educationalist Charlotte Mason (1842-1923) said, “I believe the ardor for knowledge in the children of this mining village is a phenomenon that indicates new possibilities… To find that the children of a mining population were equally responsive [as were children of educated parents] seemed to open a new hope for the world. It may be that the souls of all children are waiting for the call of knowledge to awaken them to delightful living.” Continue reading »
Charlotte Mason was a big thinker who had a very high view of children. So let me start out by saying that I don’t believe anyone could ever fit Charlotte Mason’s ideas, methods and philosophies into an actual nutshell (I just thought it made a good title for this article). Miss Mason’s ideas were so broad and far reaching, it took six large volumes to contain her writings on just the topic of education. With that said, here’s a very brief overview of a handful of Charlotte Mason’s most familiar ideas. Continue reading »
Unit studies, sometimes called thematic units or integrated studies, are very popular with homeschoolers. Unit studies usually use a hands-on approach for effective learning. The child learns by actually experiencing or discovering through different methods and activities, rather than just reading a chapter from a textbook. Studies show that children using unit-study methods retain 45% more than those using a traditional approach. Continue reading »
Well, a lot of people predicted it and now it’s happened. My daughter’s unschooling has led her to a dead-end job at low pay. Yup, she’s a hired hand on a farm. She didn’t tell me that she was taking the job. I found out about it when I came across a list of her chores that she’d written out. In addition to feeding the pigs, chickens, horses and cows, she has to haul water, milk the cows and even chop wood! And for all this, she only gets room and board! Continue reading »
The Weaver uses the Bible as the spring-board for history, science, creative writing and many other projects. As we began to systematically work through the Bible I realized that my goal was being accomplished. My children were exposed to the profound truths of the Bible and loving it. Our Bible times do not focus on facts but on the application of the Word. In Ruth 3 we discussed the importance of choosing a mate who was not only a Christian but one who displayed the character of Christ as Boaz and Ruth both did. The Weaver moves us beyond the text to real-life application. Continue reading »
Remarkably, the best homeschooling advice I received came when my first child was a baby. My friend Barb, an experienced homeschooling mom who loaned me stacks of Home Education Magazine and Growing Without Schooling, told me that to homeschool I only had to "provide a rich environment, involve children in everyday living, and help find answers to their questions." That sounded very simple, and it is; the challenge is in trusting that such a plan is enough. Continue reading »