The Hows of Homeschooling
By Katie Finley
I was hoping to write on the "whys" of homeschooling this month, but I am going to wait till next month. The "whys" looks very different for every family just like the "hows." I want to do a little bit more research before I write.
So, what DOES your day look like? How do you teach your kid everything they need to know? How does home schooling relate in the 'real' world? How are you going to teach high school math? How can your kids interact with other kids?
The questions seems endless when I tell people we home school. My last article touched on the definition of what home schooling is and an introduction. This month I would like to look at the "how's" of homeschooling. What does homeschooling look like to different families and how do you actually homeschool?
When asking this question of a friend, she gave me something to remember. Homeschooling is like parenting, every family looks different. We all have our own styles when it comes to parenting and we do what we think is best for our own family. Teaching our child from home is no different. Some families are strict with their studies, while other families have a more free-form approach. Some are right in the middle and others completely outside of the box. I want to take a look at just three "how's" in this article of homeschooling, but with a reminder that every family is unique!
The first approach some families choose is that of a more typical academic style. I have some great friends who make some amazing schedules for the children and actually stick with those schedules for the day! A lot of times, these families have higher education in mind as they plan what they are going to teach their children. There is some really amazing curriculum out there and these families use the curriculum to help teach their children everything from basic math to language arts to chemistry. Usually their day is filled in the morning with math, language arts, science, and social studies. They can do anywhere between three and six hours of school a day.
Another approach, that at first might seem completely opposite, is called "unschooling." I say "at first" because, in all reality, children using either approach do learn everything they need to, just in a different form. In unschooling, kids usually determine when, what, and how they want to learn. This DOES NOT mean they do not do school at all! This can be a big misconception. It does mean that the conventional way of "doing school" is thrown out the door.
Children learn from more natural life experiences than from the traditional education model seen in schools today. We know some great families on the Central Coast who follow a more unschooling approach to educating their children. Their typical day (which in itself makes an unschooler laugh because a lot of times, their days are always changing!) might start with the children helping the parents make breakfast. Over breakfast they might talk how one of the children saw a funny looking bird the day before so they want to know what it is.
Maybe afterwards the parent will sit down and help the child research that bird. After that the family might go out for a hike to look for birds, and then come home and read some good books they found at the library about birds. The next day might look totally different. For people who are used to more traditional schooling, unschooling may sound crazy! However, we have seen some amazing families unschool for years, then put their children in a few community college classes that are geared towards highschoolers. Their kids often excel beyond many traditionally schooled children!
We are right in the middle of the two approaches. I use some amazing curriculum every day with my children. I sit down with my seven year old and we work through a story from classical literature, talk about the main points, and write a few sentences about it. I will then point out the parts of speech. She then might go on the computer and do her math curriculum. I have found this curriculum works well for her and for myself. It frees me up to work with my kindergartener on her letters and put out any fires my two-and- ½ year old has started! The second grader might finish up with working on spelling, and then we might all sit down and read from Little House on the Prairie, since we are studying American history this year.
I have heard parents countless times saying they wish they could homeschool, but couldn't imagine teaching their children everything they need to know.
Curriculum for homeschooling is in abundance and can be a real help to families just starting off. We have used a math curriculum that has everything I need to say to my daughter as I teach her. This can help a parent out if they feel they are not natural teachers. In our area on the Central Coast, there is an abundance of resources for the homeschool family!
There are many homeschool groups — ranging from those that learn Latin and tennis together, to groups that go hiking together to those that meet at parks once a week just to hang out with other homeschool families. Plus there are classes kids can taking starting as early as middle school and continuing through Cuesta College. There are also schools in our area where kids go only two days a week and then, on the other three, are at home doing school. Homeschool kids can play sports, play a musical instrument, and have access to all sorts of tutors to help reach their educational goals. There is an abundance of resources in our area, you just have to do a little research.
There are many different ways to homeschool, and this article just touched on a very few. If anyone has any questions on homeschooling or is interested in knowing about homeschooling, please email us and we can try to answer your questions or direct it to someone who might know a bit more then we do.
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