Once you decide to homeschool your child, you’re going to have to come up with a plan for how the subject matter is going to be taught, and a system to execute that plan. An important distinction you should make yourself aware of is a philosophical one of “homeschooling” vs “school at home.” The latter method is overly simplistic, and doesn’t take advantage of the benefits that homeschooling can truly offer. While every parent is justifiably concerned about creating a disciplined academic environment, if you simply “teach at home” both you and your child will be missing out on many feature benefits.
As a teaching philosophy, it’s important to think of the process as ‘home schooling’. This means that “home” and “school” become one: it’s not simply a case of school being conducted in a home environment. So instead of creating regimented lessons at set times – instead of your children sitting stiffly at a table while you give them lessons – be always ready to use the flexibility of homeschooling to your advantage. If your child has a question about a particular subject in biology, take him outside and show him nature at work. If he’s interested in a certain aspect of history, take him to the museum.
One of the greatest things about homeschooling is that it doesn’t have to be a regimented system: a day of learning that ends at 4 PM, Monday to Friday. When homeschooling is properly implemented, your child is always learning. During a unit on Shakespeare for example, maybe you’ll decide to take him to a performance of the play on the weekend. If he’s interested in computers, allow him to use his computer for a research project.
Most children learn better in settings that they are comfortable in, and what setting is more comfortable then the home? So if your child wants to hear his math lesson while sitting on the couch, let him. If he wants to watch a movie in the evening, direct him to an educational one.
If you have made the decision to homeschool and part of that decision will involve transitioning your child(ren) out of the public school system, there are some aspects worth considering.
Once your kids begin their educational life outside of the public school, there will be a transition time for them; as there would be a transition time for anyone undergoing change in their life and their routines. If this is about to become your homeschooling scenario you should understand that the time after the public school, yet before you begin homeschooling is a good time to help your child through this period and prepare for their upcoming new educational experience. It’s important to use this time to help your child understand that learning and their education can take place with their home and their family unit.
Even once your homeschooling year begins it’s important to understand that your child will probably still need some time to adjust to the new routine and the new freedoms of education at home. Early on, let your child dip their toe into the water of homeschooling before jumping in. Remember, aside from the teachings, the lessons, and the learning, this will indeed be quite a different environment for your child as opposed the the bells, the crowded halls, and all the noise and distractions they have become accustom to in their previous learning environment. So, some decompression time may well be in order for them.
During this time, don’t worry about setting expectations too high, or feel as though if you don’t get started ‘doing’ something you will soon fall behind schedule. Remember, flexibility and scheduling is one of the great benefits to homeschooling. Relax. Besides, I truly believe you’ll soon find that once you do get into the rhythm of your schedule, you’ll find that with the individual attention that your child receives with each subject, they’ll soon not only make up for any early lost time, but they’ll probably surpass what you even had scheduled initially!
Use the transition or decompression time to talk with your child about what it is that they are really interested in and what they like to learn about. Align those goals with their interests or what they like to dream about.
Home schooling involves a lot of conversation. Talk to your child about setting short and long term goals and how by reaching each little goal one at a time they are on their way to realizing their dream.
Let your home schooling child know that she or he will be able to learn and study subject matter that they are interested in much greater detail than they have ever been able to before. Get their mind jump started on all the great projects and subject that you will cover with them in your new homeschooling environment. If you do this, you’ll find that your kids will make it through the transition from traditional education to home schooling education excited and energized about these wonderful possibilities to learning.