The Ten Most Important Things You Need to Know About Homeschooling
By Dianne McLean
We often get asked at HECOA if we can summarize what the most important tips are for new homeschoolers. We think these tips are equally as important to remember for veteran homeschoolers, as well as those in their first few years. Check out this list:
1. Homeschooling is life changing. It is a lifestyle which automatically begins to create incredible personal growth for both the parent and the child. You (the parent) get a second chance to re-discover your own special talents and academic advantages, while you help your children discover theirs. Nothing you ever do will have a more profound effect on your child and your family's future as homeschooling.
2. You are qualified to homeschool your children. Your love of reading, exploring, and learning new things will set an example for your children that very few people outside the home are capable of influencing in this way. Your desire to help your child see the absolute best in themselves is your qualification.
3. Trust in your child. Children love to learn. They have an inborn natural hunger to explore the world and examine what is interesting. They learn best by following their interests, with one interest leading to another. Schools don't teach children how to walk, talk, run, smile, love, dress themselves or understand their world. They learn these things at home with loving parents who have their best interest at heart.
4. Homeschooling is legal everywhere in the United States, but homeschooling laws vary from state to state. Know the laws for your state, they are easy to find by googling.
5. It does not take 6-8 hours a day to homeschool your child. Most of the time children spend at school consists of waiting for other children to stop talking, understand the concept, or finish something so they can move on. Since no two children learn alike, every homeschooler alters their learning goals several times before they get it "right". There are as many ways to homeschool as there are stars in the sky. Don't sacrifice your family's happy rhythms to replicate the same "school" system you have left behind.
6. Socialization is a moot debate. There are 5 million homeschoolers in the United States - get to know a few more of them and you will realize that children learn the best social attitudes, graces, and behaviors from responsible adult mentors (parents, etc) not from other children. School is not the "real world". Teach your children to have healthy relationships with people of all ages and they will be better prepared for the "real world".
7. You will not have to teach algebra or physics unless you really want to. When you are ready to explore the requirements of college admission, together with your child you will explore the ways they can learn algebra: in a community college class, with a tutor, or through online resources. There are countless resources to accomplish these things, homeschoolers do it every day. One step at a time.
8. You will question yourself many times. This is normal. Find a fellow homeschooling friend - even if it's only online. Support each other. Tell each other that it's okay to sometimes feel that your children didn't seem to learn anything on a given day. They are learning more than you realize!
9. You do not have to live in a substandard home in the woods to homeschool your children. Hundreds of thousands of homeschooling families are creating family businesses, at home dream jobs, or restructuring their current employment to make it work. Money is much less important than your child's education, what they will learn, and who they learn it from.
10. Your home will probably be just a little out of order. This is also normal. When we asked homeschoolers what the biggest drawback to homeschooling was, the only thing they could think of was - my house is not always as clean as I wish it could be. That's okay. Learning is going on, things have to be spread out or set aside sometimes.
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