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How About Homeschooling?

May 19, 2008
I am guessing you aren't happy with the schooling your kids are getting, for whatever reason. You've suggested homeschooling to yourself. But you can't imagine yourself doing it because you aren't superwoman, able to juggle lessons and other mom duties.

Guess what the main qualification is: it's love for your kids. You CAN do it if you are dedicated to them. You can learn the skills you need gradually, as you need them, the same way you learned mothering skills. Jugglers start this way, first juggling just one item, then two, then later three.

Homeschooling may even be easier than not homeschooling. Instead of driving your several children to several same-age activities after school, you'll be able to concentrate on activities you can all do together.

In addition, kids in school often have plenty of homework and need help from you in the evening. If you homeschool, you get all that out of the way in the morning, and your evenings are free.

Large families often enjoy doing unit studies. These are large topics, for instance ancient Egypt, which can be treated differently for various ages.Your read-aloud could be a book called Mara, Daughter of the Nile. A young child might write sentences about it; an older child might create a paper. They all might work on an art project, such as a scroll with hieroglyphics. Math can be worked in too--figuring the height of a pyramid using similar triangles. The unit could be capped with a visit to the art museum. Such unit studies might last a month, and are commonly available for purchase.

Other options include using workbooks and curriculum so that each child has something to work on that is appropriate for his age. These all come with an answer key--you don't need to be a college graduate to make sure your kid is getting the right answer. In fact, many homeschoolers do almost no direct teaching--their kids learn from the book or workbook. (This is a great study skill for college!)

There are also correspondence schools that do all the teaching for you, if your child needs that.

How do you structure your day? Many families do the tougher studying in the morning, leaving the afternoon for projects or play. There are plenty of organizations these days with daytime classes for homeschoolers, if you want to sign up for something outside the home. You could even send your kids to organized sports with schooled kids in the late afternoon, if you are willing to do some driving! Watch out how much of that you sign up for though! You have to be careful to avoid burnout.

But you do want your children to be "socialized." Here's a question homeschoolers get all the time: "Aren't you worried about socialization for your child?" Here's the answer: you have the ability to choose whom your child socializes with, unlike parents of schooled children. You do have to go out of your way to set it up. And you can count socialization with adults--that's the best kind, after all. Adults are generally well-mannered and kind. Unsupervised schoolkids often are not. Homeschooled kids are usually quite comfortable talking to adults! Don't you want your kids to be like that?

A homeschool co-op is one of the best solutions to the need for socialization. If you meet once a week with other homeschoolers for class or field trips, your child gets well-supervised social interaction, and can learn and grow socially in a way that a schooled child cannot. Bullying is simply not a problem for homeschoolers! So how do you find a co-op? You have to ask other homeschoolers. If your area has a homeschooling convention, by all means go to it, and go to workshops if they have any. You need to network with other homeschoolers until you find or can create a co-op.

Something else you will need is support. You need someone to talk to who is going through the same challenges. The Internet has been quite a blessing to homeschool moms, who can support each other online. There are many discussion forums attached to homeschooling Web sites, for instance, www.welltrainedmind.com. There are email groups for homechoolers too--look through the groups at groups.yahoo.com.

Here's the answer to the homeschooling question: You can do it!
About the Author
Phyllis Wheeler writes fun computer science curriculums for self-study. Check out her free lesson on Internet information searching, the Internet Scavenger Hunt! And take a look at a sampling of articles on homeschooling she has for you.
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