by: Bohemian Mom
July 20, 2012
Deciding to homeschool your children is probably one of the most significant lifestyle choices you as a parent can make, and it does not come easy.
Usually one parent looks into it and must convince the other parent that it isn’t crazy. So, the education actually begins with both parents opening their minds to new concepts.
Some are motivated to try homeschooling because of a bad experience their child had in public school, or some may view the conventional school curriculum as not in line with their beliefs or aspirations, while others are drawn to the freedom and joy of spending more time with their children.
No matter what the reason is, all parents who decide to homeschool will face similar challenges. Besides having to decide what and how to teach your children, you may also have to justify their lifestyle choice to the countless conformists who surround you.
When we first announced our decision to homeschool our kids, one family member brashly told us “how dare you think your smart enough to homeschool your kids.” Another said “You’re going to ruin your kids’ lives.”
So much for good old family support, right? Even though the popularity of homeschooling is growing by leaps and bounds, most will find many family members, or even their spouse, to be resistant to the idea when it’s initially proposed as it’s out of line with traditional conditioning.
In the face of this pressure, you must choose what to teach and how to teach it so you don’t “ruin your kids’ lives.” Then comes actually filling your days with lessons and activities while managing the household and, sometimes, another profession as well.
It is not an easy path, but ultimately it’s worth it for those of us who philosophically commit ourselves to homeschooling. There is no standard approach to homeschooling, but we thought outlining some rules for happy homeschooling can help others find more peace in their journey.
Here are some basic rules that may help new homeschooling parents:
Educate Yourself: I don’t mean re-learning Algebra. I mean both you and your spouse must learn about homeschooling and agree on the general philosophy. It is nearly impossible for homeschooling to succeed if both parents aren’t on the same page. The experience will quickly deteriorate if one parent resents the idea or is overly critical of the process. Luckily, there are many terrific books and blogs about homeschooling to give you plenty of helpful information and support.
Consider it a Trial Run: Calling your adventure into homeschooling a “trial run” will help in many ways. First, it will diffuse negative reactions from friends and family who will inevitably pepper you with questions like “what about college?” If you must, explain your reasons for trying it and tell them if it doesn’t work out they can always go back to school. This also relieves the pressure to plan too far ahead. It can be easy to lose yourself in the magnitude of responsibility that comes with being in charge of your child’s education. Don’t worry about long-term success or failure, just consider it a new experience with nothing to lose.
Put Joy and Happiness First: Happiness and joy should be the overriding goal for your homeschooling experience. Everyone should enjoy the process. Otherwise, what’s the point? Teaching and learning is much easier if everyone is having fun. If something isn’t working, or is causing too much tension, then change your approach or scrap it altogether. Happiness equals success. Period.
Have a Flexible Curriculum: Your kids do not need to be spelling bee champs to justify your decision to homeschool. Sure, it’s wise to set some basic academic goals, but be willing to throw out the “on par with grade level” mentality if necessary. Kids are sponges for learning, especially when they’re enjoying themselves. Believe me, they’ll always be learning far more than a standardized test can show.
Teach How to Think: All public school students are taught what to think, but few learn how to think. Homeschooled kids aren’t special because they learn what to think better than their schooled peers, they’re special because they learn how to think. So ditch the flash cards unless you can use them in a memory game. In other words, be creative in presenting boring material as a mystery waiting to be solved. Make your lessons more like treasure hunts. The ability to solve problems is far more valuable than the ability to memorize “facts” that can be Googled in 2 seconds.