Sometimes we enter homeschooling as a journey, a gradual zero depth wading pool. Sampling, testing, experimenting, exploring, researching. Other times people enter their homeschool journey from the high dive. Many parents find themselves there now. Toes on the edge, wondering if they can do it, terrified by the risk, but with a growing line behind them and the clock ticking, it’s jump or ??? Well, the analogy falls flat there. There are other options. Your child will not fail or die or be ruined for life whether you choose to homeschool or not this coming year. Whatever successes or challenges they face this year can be redeemed or neutralized in subsequent years.
I know this, because we have had “those years” before. Like the year my grandfather died. I spent hours many days driving to visit him, bringing him lunch, knowing the trip might be the last of its kind and choosing to ignore the way I “failed” as a homeschool teacher that year. Another year I started a new job that should have been 15 hours a week and turned into 50-60 before settling into 20 after a few months. Homeschooling happened in bits and pieces with the stress pooling in the corners of my eyes and the strain in my verbal instructions many days.
And, somehow they thrived. They knew we loved them. They knew some days were better than others. They learned greater independence and the value of elders and serving others and a million other life skills that I didn’t realize I was teaching as assignments were graded weeks late instead of daily.
They also thrived academically. In the bits and pieces, the “car” schooling (Thank the Lord for audio books) that sometimes become more the norm than the exception, the Saturday studies done of necessity, the shortened Christmas or spring break, they learned more than I ever could have imagined.
Yes, sleep was in short supply, and I wanted to quit (homeschooling, life, my job, parenting, everything!) Hard days and seasons came and went and we all stood stronger because of them.
So, what now? You’ve decided to take the leap, or prepare in case you get shoved off the high dive. First order of business (and the one I honestly get asked the most when people find out I homeschool) — what curriculum do you use?
If we were wading in, this is one of the later questions, but assuming you are hoping to start school in a month, it is kind of pressing. No time to research educational philosophies, or sample a few methods to see what you enjoy, or interview academic experts in your sphere of influence. We need to jump right in. The water’s cold, but you’ll adjust quickly.
This is where the self-interview begins:
- How much time do I want my child to spend on the computer?
- Do I have a religious affiliation that I want reflected in the books I choose?
- How much time do I have to find this curriculum?
- How much time on a daily basis do I have to help my child with their studies? (this is not asking how capable you feel, that is a whole different issue)
- How much can I afford?
- Am I planning on returning my child to a traditional school in the near future or am I trying homeschooling as a potential long-term option?
- Does my child do well with more desk work, or do they need to move regularly?
- How much room do I have to store extra materials?
- Do I have access to a well-equipped library that I know how to use (or am willing to learn)?
- What technology is available in our home or am I willing to invest in?
- Are there other like-minded families around me that I can rely on for mutual support?
Once you come up with an idea of the boundaries of what you are looking for, you are more prepared to actually look at curriculum. Set your budget, determine some expectations, and tomorrow we will look at some resources and how to make up your mind.
In future posts, either here or on the Facebook page we will explore more curriculum questions, age specific considerations, working with special needs, setting goals, record keeping, and setting a schedule.