When I began homeschooling almost thirteen years ago, it was solely for academic reasons. I’ve tried all sorts of methods and curricula over the years, and I’ve come full circle: back to the same academics.
Lots of curricula out there is faith-based, and we’ve gotten to the realization that most of it is dumbed down, biased, white-washed, Euro-centric…kind of the opposite of public school curricula with its absence of any religious doctrine, but still with bias. We use lots of book lists to study history and science. We want the truth, not some watered-down, evangelical, conservative view of the truth.
I have some different perspectives and priorities than other homeschoolers, for sure.
I have a bachelor’s degree in English literature (w o r t h l e s s). I have a master’s in education, specializing in teaching English grades 6-12. I earned an endorsement in gifted education and I was a school coordinator for the gifted program. Did you know “gifted” students fall under the special education umbrella? I was an educator in the public and private sector for almost ten years. I taught middle school, high school, and college. I had ESOL, gifted, advanced, and regular ed students. I taught literature, grammar, reading, and writing. I substitute taught, worked in after-school programs, and tutored students who scored low on standardized tests. I’ve worked as a private English tutor to high school students.
So, there’s that personal history. I was an “actual” teacher. I know the other side.
I hated the textbooks for their white-washed short stories, bland poetry, excerpts of novels, grammar drills, writing exercises, and busy work. I hated assigning homework and grades for meaningless assignments. I hated the politics of school.
Homeschool parents don’t have to have college degrees in education (or anything) to teach their children well.
I realize how daunting a task it can be to teach our own. Thank God my husband is a whiz in algebra, chemistry, and physics, because I’m not. But kids can and will learn on their own, despite us! Often, we should just get out of the way.
As a homeschool mom, I don’t recreate a school environment. I don’t waste time. I don’t give grades, tests, busy work, or projects. In our home, learning is a natural process, based on interests. We try not to suck all the joy out of it.
People think I know some stuff since I have a daughter finishing up her homeschool academics, taking the SAT, graduating, taking college courses, and taking off into the world.
I try really hard not to impose my beliefs on others. We have our reasons for homeschooling. We are staunch advocates for learning at home. We are anti-school. I don’t believe school is necessary at all. Home is base and everything else is just supplementary. I don’t even like co-ops or enrolling my kids in classes.
I realize many families homeschool their kids for different reasons, with different styles, sometimes temporarily or for just a season, and maybe one child attends school while another in the household stay home. I may not understand some of this, but to each her own.
What I have to Say to a New Homeschooler:
You don’t need a script.
You don’t need to re-create school at home.
You don’t have to be driven by fear.
Don’t overdo it.
You don’t have to use Christian curricula. Or the same texts as a public or private school.
You can change your curricula anytime, for any reason.
You don’t even need a curriculum, actually.
You don’t need a DVD or online program.
You don’t need a chore chart.
You don’t have to join a co-op.
You don’t have to get up early and “do school” before lunch. You can learn anytime!
You don’t have to use schoolish words like “recess” or “class” or “seatwork.”
You don’t have to spend a lot of money.
You don’t need a classroom.
How We Homeschool
We don’t have a schedule.
We don’t do testing.
We don’t do grades.
We don’t participate in a co-op or many group activities at all.
Reading, writing, and discussion usually take about an hour each day. The rest of the time, the kids learn what and how they like.
We don’t worry about screen time.
We don’t use checklists, charts, agendas, calendars, etc.
We don’t use punishments or rewards systems of any kind.
We don’t overschedule our lives.
We stay home most of the time.
We have lots of free time to think, explore, read, play, cook, create, or do whatever we desire.
We’re more about the process than the outcome.
I respect my kids. I trust my kids.
Children can make their own decisions. They can teach themselves.
They know themselves best – their preferences, tastes, likes, and dislikes.
I’m a guide, a coach, a mentor.
It’s not my job to teach every lesson or provide everything for my kids. Most of my own learning happened after I became an adult. Learning is a lifetime activity.
I love to introduce my kids to new things – new foods, art, experiences, movies, books. If they love it, great. I try not to get my feelings hurt if they don’t care for something I love. Usually, my enthusiasm is enough to get them to at least try something new. It’s my role to introduce and I am proud I have enough knowledge and experience to give them so many choices and expose them to so many new things. I am constantly learning and researching and seeking new things to show them. I love it.
My Top 5 for Successful Homeschooling
Many homeschool families have a central focus, and everything else revolves around that. For us, it’s the humanities. For some, it’s gymnastics or ice skating or math or science. Find your focus, and go after it.
Family relationships are the most important aspect of homeschooling. If you don’t set a stage for successful home relations, homeschooling will be miserable. Sure, there are times when someone is irritable or needs alone time, but we help each other, work well together, and respect each other. We enjoy being together, even the teens! Connection and relationship is the most important aspect of parenting and homeschooling.
Everyone needs to learn the basics – basic finances, car maintenance, cooking, cleaning, clothes mending, appliance fixing, yard work, household management and maintenance. It’s super important. Team up with others to learn these if you don’t know it yourself!
Sure, you can learn lots from books or videos, but experiences are more memorable. We always try to find an experience to represent what we learn about – field trips, museums, road trips, travel, activities, hands-on.
Most of us realize the importance of a good academic foundation. The 3 R’s – Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic. Also, a good moral foundation – religion, faith, social justice, or whatever personal concept is important to your family. Academics are actually secondary for us.
Our Favorite Homeschool Resources
THE LIBRARY! We go every week and gets lots and lots and lots of books on every subject that looks interesting!
ARTistic Pursuits and museums for art that we learn with history.
We create playlists on Spotify and learn about music with history.