Table-side Chat with a Veteran Homeschool Teacher

What is Homeschooling?

Before I talk about what it is, let’s talk about what it is not.

  1. Not bringing a classroom home (What works with 30-100 will not work with 1-5)
  2. Not a one room schoolhouse (Not just a teacher)
  3. Not universal one size fits all, curriculum, location, attire, and schedule all differ
  4. Few are isolated and unsocialized (It is nicer to meet with at least some people like you.)
  5. Not schooling does not mean not educating

Whatever your preconceived ideas about homeschool are, They’re probably wrong. Except if you think we sometimes teach in our PJs, you may be right about that.

The reality is that there is not a standard way to go about homeschooling. It is an individual education that meets the needs of a child’s learning patterns, combined with the needs of your teaching patterns and takes into account the needs of your family. What works for one family doesn’t necessarily work for another. What works for one child in your family almost certainly will conflict with another child in your family. There are so many options, homeschoolers keep tweeking until it works for their family.  Create an Individual Family Plan for your own family. Homeschooling brings opportunities to your children and a chance for them to explore who God created them to be.

Major in the Majors

Elementary and Middle school focus on reading, writing, and arithmetic. Science and history should be fun (as in education videos) and/or done together as a family. I happen to have highschoolers, so we do it together at the table. I use Christian Light for the majors, RWA. Liberty Kids, Magic School Bus and Berenstain Bears Science are some great examples of educational fun. Also you can add coloring sheets while the highschoolers read aloud. 

Junior and Senior High Schoolers: Time to start recording subjects for a transcript. Colleges all want to see when they have completed algebra, even if it was in elementary school. Be sure to record when it was taken and what curriculum was used.

I use curriculums, but make sure the curriculums don’t use you. Some curriculums have tons of busy work. Christian Light works well for our family. Every test must be completed with an A grade. We don’t do things just to have something to do, mastery is important. So you retake the test after learning your mistakes until you get an A. This is so for all the Majors, English,and Math. Science we read through the book together at the table, along with history and Bible. The family table is also where I address any current event or life lessons. They ask questions, and we talk.

Homeschool’s magical opportunity lies in extra education time. What I like to call fun-school. That is why I don’t like busy work for the minor subjects. I want to grant time, curriculum and resources for each child’s talent. My oldest loved computers; my older girl loved to write stories; and my second girl loves drama and languages. There are resources out there for them all. I don’t have to be an expert at everything. There are a lot of really good online and local teachers. Your job as a homeschool teacher is to help find resources. 

One of the most important classes in homeschool is home economics. Learning how to clean, cook, maintain a house and yard, manage time, and still have fun time. It is not easy for adults. It is super difficult for kids. Yes, the biggest task you will have is managing your time and theirs, until they can do it themselves.

Homeschooling High School

(Flexibility, Understanding, and patience. )

Most people are afraid of homeschooling highschool. They feel inadequately prepared for the rigors of management and recording (for a transcript) as well as the advanced subject matter. I want to put you at ease. The lists of exactly what colleges are looking for on a transcript are easily available. It is not a mystery. The most difficult part of rocking highschool is really unschooling your own thought process. Here are some important tips.

  1. You don’t have to be an expert at everything in order to homeschool. That is the job of a good curriculum. Your job is to find, acquire, and monitor.
  2. Schedule coffee dates. Instead of a parent teacher conference, do a parent  student conference. Create a comfortable environment to talk about their future, options that they may have, and listen to what they really want to see happen with their education. 
  3. ASK THEM. If you realize they are ready, give your high schooler a choice to do high school or college level work. “This is what I have prepared for you…. But you will save a lot of money and time if you choose to go here …..” They are more receptive to hard work, if they have chosen it, and know the benefits. I usually throw in the words…”and after you’re finished you may never have to see it again.” (Trimester -vs- semester and different colleges acceptance of your class may come into play) There are many options: online, CLEP tests, community colleges, and many four year Universities offer a huge discount to highschoolers, even Christian colleges.
  4. Give them at least one subject that they can choose. Often there are many more choices than that, like what type of art, PE, English/writing they want to do.
  5. Activities. It is common for highschools to want to relate to other highschoolers. Find a safe, even educational place for them to do that. Do they like drama, a theater class might be just the thing. And don’t forget to record their hours. 120 hours is a highschool credit. What do they spend their time doing, and can that be considered a class? It just might!
  6. Schedule is flexible. If they are night people, as long as they get a full 8 hours sleep, let them work at night. They can split up their work time. As long as they get their work done and maintain health, it’s all good.
  7. Dress code should also be very flexible. PJs are an option. 
  8. Chores are part of school. We are building children with a work ethic. 
  9. Make your life as easy as possible, because teaching is a job. Highschoolers can cook, clean, do laundry, and keep organized, but they need a little help. I bought a different color plate for each person. That is their plate, and we all know who didn’t wash it. The same can go for cups and socks too. I gave them all their own hamper, so they can do their own laundry. We had a cooking schedule until the older two started college classes. I helped them by taking over cooking. What responsibilities can I give them, and how can I help them be successful at them? PS. We don’t fold clothes;we dump.
  10. Allow your student to work in the best learning pattern for them. If they take literature and are an auditory learner, let them listen to the books. That child will get much more out of an audio than reading it. Oral book reports work as well as written ones. They won’t even be able to completely avoid the other learning paths, but help them where you can. Most of the time kids avoid subjects that they think they aren’t good at. It may be time for you to learn with them in that area. Then they will feel like you really understand their position.

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