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Homeschooling Expert... Who Me?!

This is in answer to a recent query I had about what I consider "required" for the homeschooling lifestyle. My answer has both broad points and specifics ... with realistic ways of implementing the suggestions.

"Query: Need Veteran Expertise! Please share ... what has worked for you. Share what you consider to be required, attainable and what is really necessary in your homeschooling experience."

My Answer:

I don't know about 'expert'... but definitely a veteran here. LOL! I've been homeschooling 7 years and have four children. Didn't even have the last two when I started with the first two. We now have an 11 year old girl, an 8 year old boy, a 5 year old girl, and a 2 year old girl. My poor son has girl problems of the sisterly kind ... but he's usually pretty tolerant.

What do I consider a requirement? That will vary from family to family but in our case ...

FIRST, start off with a learning space. This could be a desk in the child's room, the patio in good weather, the basement, the dining room table. It doesn't matter so much where as it is the idea that the space is their's for doing any work they need a space to do it in and that it is kept neat and available to them. Keep the location consistent. Don't have them sitting at the dining room table one day, the coffee table the next, then the top of their bed the time after that. Maybe as they are older and more self-disciplined you can allow this ... but remember, education is as much a state of mind as it is something you are trying to attain. Consistency helps train their mindset.

SECOND, have a plan and direction in mind. While I do accept the method of unschooling can work, the most successful unschoolers that I've met still have a general direction and schedule that they follow for extracurricular activities. Your plan can be as detailed or as loose as you want ... but to get from point A to point B you still need a direction to follow. I personally keep my plans in a three ring binder and teacher plan book and it is pretty specific ... though flexible. It has enough columns for each of my children, a column for unit studies, and a column for extracurricular activities such as scouts, park days, and fieldtrips. I know some people use Daytimers. Other people use notebook paper or composition books. Its not so much WHAT you use as it is the process of using it. Of course, state requirements may dictate a method of recording your plan and schedule so be aware of your own state laws.

THIRD, try and keep all your school and/or craft stuff in one location. Clean out a coat closet or extra linen closet. Use a big tub or filing cabinet. Again, its not so much a matter of WHERE as it is the fact that everything that you need can be located in a minimum of time and effort.

FOURTH, ..... an absolute "must have" no matter what your method is FLEXIBILITY and PATIENCE!!! Without flexibility you are going to burn out fast and so will your kids. Life happens and you have to be able and willing to incorporate that into your homeschool environment. Some of life's happenings make great educational opportunities ... some are just a pain with little value except to learn/teach patience. Without the patience mentioned, you'll burn out even quicker than you will without flexibility. The two kind of go hand in hand. I'm not saying you have to have great stores of these two attributes when you first start, but you do need to be willing to develop these skills ... and skills they are!

Those four things boil down to ORGANIZATION.

If you are talking about THINGS, then I would say:

1. A curriculum or curriculum plan that works for each individual child. For example,we use Switched on Schoolhouse (from Alpha Omega Publicatiosn) and unit studies while friends of our use the Charlotte Mason approach of nature journaling and and yet others use only what they can find for free on the internet or other packaged curriculums and workbooks.

2. Access to a good library... whether it is one of your own creation, a local library, or ebooks from the internet.

3. Access to the out-of-doors so that they can experience some of the things that they read about ... gardens, nature studies, astronomy, camping, sports, etc. This is also a healthy alternative from being cooped up inside all day. One of the great things about homeschooling is the ability to include more time for unstructured play ... which is in itself a learning experience ... and other outdoor activities.

Yes, I've accumulated a good library of teaching materials over 7 years, yes I have a room in the house that is our "classroom", yes I have a lot more "stuff" and organizational aids than what I have listed ... but if I broke it down to "must haves" the ones above would be the backbone of our homeschool.

NOTE: if, after you've read this article in full, you have a completely different opinion and/or something that has worked for you personally, please consider writing an article for posting to this site. Alternative views are a reality in this life. What works for one may not work for another. Your article of suggestions just may be what someone is desparately searching for. Contact me to submit an article. Thank you.

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