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Crunchy Mama’s Advice for Those New to Homeschooling

The following is copied and pasted from a document that I created for a Facebook group that I created for homeschoolers in my area.  If you happen to homeschool and have some advice to share, please do!

“We often get new members to this group who are thinking about homeschooling or are just starting out in homeschooling.  We “seasoned” homeschoolers know how overwhelming that stage can be.  I started this document so that when a new member says that they are new to homeschooling, we can direct them to this document.

 Please add your name and your advice including any helpful blog posts or online articles or books.

My advice (we’ve always homeschooled so I cannot give advice for transitioning older students from school to homeschool BUT I do have some book recommendations and general recommendations):

  1. If your children are young, I highly recommend reading John Holt’s Learning All The Time http://www.amazon.com/Learning-All-Time-John-Holt/dp/0201550911/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389282494&sr=8-1&keywords=learning+all+the+time
  2. Seriously resist the urge to buy curriculum for pre-school or early elementary aged; if you are really liking the looks of a particular one, be sure to get as much feedback from folks who have used it.
  3. Read out loud interesting stories.  I really like Five in a Row which is a literature-based unit study curriculum with great stories and interesting activities to go along with the stories. http://fiveinarow.com/ (check to see if your local library or interlibrary loan system has any of the manuals)
  4. Don’t try to recreate school at home.  Relax.  Have fun!
  5. As much as possible, learn about the topics that your children are interested in.
  6. If a particular program is not working for your child, cut your losses and try something else.  
  7. If you don’t follow a particular curriculum, get in the habit of keeping a homeschooling journal so that you don’t panic at the end of the year to try to remember what y’all did in your homeschool that year.  Train your eyes to see the educational value of the things that your children do — games, puzzles, etc.  I also like to take pictures and put them on my homeschooling blog.  Feel free to have a look at what my kids do in our homeschool: https://crunchymamahomeschools.wordpress.com/
  8. Try to get together with other local homeschooling families on a regular basis.  Making friends is so important.  Side note: Every family has their own styles so resist the urge to compare your homeschool to others’.
  9. Good article for newbies: http://www.hsclassroom.net/10-things-every-new-homeschooler-needs-to-know/
  10. If you are a Christian, I highly recommend Clay Clarkson’s Educating the Wholehearted Child http://www.amazon.com/Educating-WholeHearted-Child-Third-Edition/dp/1932012958/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389283615&sr=8-1&keywords=Educating+the+Wholehearted+Child
  11. This has some great advice, even if you don’t consider yourself an unschooler or even know what “unschooling” is!  http://sandradodd.com/pam/howto
  12. Check out this webpage to learn more about styles of homeschooling: http://www.homeschool.com/Approaches/
  13. I am a huge fan of interest-led learning. I believe that the most meaningful learning for anyone (including children) happens when it is the person’s choice to learn. 

Some comments from me in response to other members seeking advice for what to do with their children who were in school but are now homeschooling:

  • Ask your child what she is interested in learning then go to the library and get books and videos on the topic. If she cannot think of anything that she wants to learn then search together on Pinterest for some crafting projects for some inspiration. Look at book lists for her age range and read some interesting stories. Not sure how old she is but if she is not a strong reader then read the books out loud to her. And I would, as much as possible, invite her into your real world. Invite her to help you manage the household, plan meals, cook meals, shop, garden, pay bills, budget, etc. If you have a home-based business, you could try to include her in something with that. Real world experiences are a high priority in my opinion. They are meaningful and necessary when she is the manager of her own household.
  • I would get your hands on this book: Project Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners http://www.amazon.com/Project-Based-Homeschooling-Mentoring-Self-Directed-Learners/dp/1475239068/ref=lh_ni_t?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=AR5O9XYIZHIE5
  • Regarding SUCCESS: I think one of the first things that you need to seek is “what is your definition of success”. I know this will sound harsh but making your homeschool to be exactly like “regular” school is a poor definition of success; there’s obviously a reason thatyou don’t want them in “regular” school so I would advise using “regular” school to measure your homeschool against. So, take some time to research, read (and pray, if you do) to decide what your definition of success is. And, this may sound radical but your children are their own persons so you may want to consider that they will develop their own definition of what success is for themselves no matter what the parents’ hopes and dreams are for them are — at some point, they will choose their own life path (hopefully based on the gifts and talents and plan that God has given them). Technically, our children do not belong to us — they belong to themselves. We, as parents, in fact, are stewards of them until they are of age to steward their own lives.”
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