What Is Homeschool?
For us, homeschooling is nurturing our children's minds, bodies and spirit in their natural environment.
How Do I Start Homeschooling?
As a caregiver, you are already teaching your child about the world whether you intend to or not. Follow their light, answer their questions, explore the world together, teach them how to maintain their minds, bodies, spirits, families and communities.
That’s Nice, But What Technique Should I Use?
There are many forms of homeschooling. Some families literally bring “school” home using white boards and text books. There is also Kindezi, Classical, Montessori, Unschooling (to name a few).
Get to know your child’s learning style and see what works for your family.
What Do I Need To Homeschool?
Yourself and your child’s brilliant mind.
No Really, What Do I Need?
Seriously, just follow your child’s lead. I find this approach to be the least stressful and most fulfilling for everyone involved.
Try to make sure they are well fed, well rested and explore outdoors. Other than that, they need a loved one who whole-heartedly supports them so that they can fulfill their God-given purpose in life.
That Sounds Nice, But What Books Should I Use?
The local library has hundreds of free books. Find books with characters that look like them. Find books that talk about things they are interested in and different life experiences. Find books for yourself, when they see you read they may be interested in what you are reading about.
Get in the habit of visiting the library. And reading books on similar topics by different authors. That way, our children will learn where to access information, how to access it and hear different perspectives and world views.
I Was Talking About Text Books.
If you prefer specific text books, there are curriculums. We are currently using Horizons - which is okay, but we do not love it. Here is an african-centered guide curated specifically for children, if you're interested.
There are also online curriculums. We use ABCmouse.
Cool. How Many Hours Do You Spend Schooling?
That’s a difficult question, mainly because we view life as “school.”
Okay, How Long Do You Spend On Workbooks?
I think we introduced our girls to workbooks at around two years old. And we spend no more than 2 hours a week.
Two Hours A Week? Why Use Them At All?
Good point. I use them as reference points.
For example, we just learned about odd numbers. Of course, I showed our daughter by using food and observing house numbers on the street. I guess I slightly rely on the formal curriculums (at this point) to remind me of the different concepts to teach our little ones.
So If You Only Spend Two Hours A Week, What Do You Do The Rest Of The Time?
Our homeschool approach is largely built on community and relationship building - so we spend most of our time with our loved ones.
Education for us is also about sustainability, so life skills such as cooking and working together to maintain our home is important to our family. These two things alone take up a large part of our day.
We also keep a weekly schedule of activities to keep the girls active and allow them to explore new experiences. Here's our calendar with some ideas if you're interested.
Where Do You Find These Activities?
I would start with free activities at a local library, park or community center. Connect with the staff there and families you meet. The more you engage, the more you will discover and your village will grow.
Here is a list of our favorite local organizations.
Is This Legal?
Ha! Yes! We live in Massachusetts - and at age 6, your child is required by law to be enrolled in school.
At that point, you will complete a one page form and return it to the office of alternative education.
If you live in a different area, I would definitely look into it.
I’m Not An Educator, Who Will Teach Our Child?
Remember you naturally teach your child simply by being you.
I’ve noticed children learn from what we do, not what we say.
They mimic our habits and ways of life. I would be intentional about what you do every morning and every night, what you eat, how you support others and how you pursue your dreams.
These little details are what will define who our children will become.
If you are looking for more formal teaching styles, you can totally hire help.
Look within your own network of family and friends. Is someone a musician, mechanic, chef, artist, historian etc? Look around - it’s a good way to support your loved ones and also have someone your child already knows and trusts to learn from. We learn better from those we love and trust anyway.
There are also free courses, clubs and teams at local libraries and community centers. Read the paper, get involved and talk to people. You’d be surprised the amount of free resources are available. And this way your child will have more trusted teachers in their lives.
How Long Should We Homeschool?
That depends on you, your child and your family.
Legally (in Massachusetts) you have to register for homeschool when your child turns 6 years old and every year thereafter. If after one academic year it doesn’t feel right, explore other educational options.
I’ve heard many parents homeschool until 3rd grade. Some until 9th grade, some until college.
That's A Long Time To Be With Your Child 24/7. How Do You Maintain Sanity?
As they age, the less attached they become.
To maintain sanity, I work hard at getting enough rest, living a simple life and not stressing. I also surround myself with positive energy, amazing families and exciting new experiences.
How Do You Afford To Homeschool?
We are currently supported by husband's income, our rental property, our village of family and friends, and our desire to do the best things in life that are free. This post has financial tips I'd give to my younger self (if you're interested). And here's a calculator that may help you figure out yours.
I have also heard of single parents who homeschool - so it's doable if you create a plan.
How Do You Create A Plan?
Each season, we map out what we will do each day. Due to weather changes, there are some activities we do in summer that we choose not to do in the winter (like swimming) and vice versa.
I keep the schedule simple, only one activity a day so that the girls can take their time getting dressed, eating and we are not rushing.
When Should I Start Homeschooling?
As soon as our children are born they are learning from us.
I would start being intentional about educating our children as soon as possible.
Our Children Have A Wide Age Gap. How Do You Homeschool Children Of Different Ages?
That’s a great question! How many years are between your children? Are their ages staggered? Meaning are your children ages 2 and 10. Or do you have children in between ages 2, 4, 6, and 10.
One of the major blessings about homeschool is crafting an individualized plan for your family. The older children may be self-directed learners and need less one-on-one time, while you attend to your younger ones. I also think age gaps are the perfect opportunity for more holistic learning. For example, valuable socialization skills like sharing, empathy, compassion, communication, conflict-resolution and team work can be deeply fostered in a home with different aged children.
On our personal journey, after the birth of our last daughter, our outside homeschool activities halted for about two years. We spent more time making home-cooked meals, virtual gaming, using online curriculums and strengthening our bond with each other.
What If My Child Does Not Want To Be Homeschooled?
If your child does not want to be homeschooled, I would seek out other educational options.
My Child Has Never Been To School, But Really Wants To Go.
At around 2 and 3 our children became fascinated with the idea of “school,” because they heard other children talk about it.
If your children are like ours, I would totally turn this into an educational opportunity by going on school visits with them and seeing what school is like.
Another idea is to start with camps or other programs that offer 2 or 3 day options. This way, your child can get a feel of spending a few hours or day in a school environment.
I hope this helps.
Seriously considering homeschooling and want to brainstorm together? Schedule a one-on-one and use code: HEART2HEART.
Until next time...
Love The Journey,