Thursday, 6 March 2014

A little more on homeschooling

Yesterday I talked about my decision to homeschool my 9 yr old. Today I want to share a few thing that I've learnt along the way (though I know I have so much more to learn yet) in hope to assist a couple of my friends who are also considering this move with their own children.

We each make this decision for different reasons yet from what I understand the majority of us struggle to make the transition without 'beating' ourselves up, doubting our ability and being unsure what is available out there to prevent our kids being 'held back'. A few check points to consider:

* We start our schooling at 10am
* We have a timetable that guides us, not dictates
* We cover 2 elements of numeracy and 2 elements of literacy a day plus reading
* We've set our basic subjects as numeracy, literacy, reading, religion (not just Lds), arts & crafts, homemaking (no surprise there, eh?!)
* I set up a jar where any questions Charley has on other subjects get written down then used for an additional lesson.
* Unless you are a complete hermit, the social side to our kids lives aren't as exclusive as you would think. E.g each Friday we meet with my mom for breakfast and whilst we are waiting our food Charley gets to play in the soft play area, sometimes there are other kids near his own age and sometimes he's happy playing with the little kids
* I hugely believe that kids need to be doing a sport. Charley is back in karate and potentially in a football team (once I have confirmation the new team will not be playing on Sundays). He has also started going swimming again which keeps his water skills/confidence up to date
* There are times my mom will invite Charley to stay with her for a couple of days, I have no problem with that b/c it's important to spend time with family (my older boys live there too) and she is a great source of information when he asks a question (he's big on questions)
* Don't think  you have to have a schoolroom if you don't have a place, rid yourself of the myth that you have to do the whole chalkboard v sit to attention thing, you probably aren't a trained teacher!
* Have fun with what you are doing, they will learn easier and enjoy more if they know you are ok about it
* If possible, set a shelf aside, organise labelled folders, stationary, a craft range and anything else you will use
* Be sure to sign up to a suitable site that specialises in lessons for homeschooled kids. I use for £59.99 per year for unlimited and a huge range of maths, english and science print offs. The community forum is great to chat with other parents who homeschool, get support, offer support, ask questions etc
* I find that increasing our family days out are important b/c being committed to so much indoors work you all need to get out and feel the fresh air!
* Still read at bedtime. That will always be your time.
* Take the help of the elective home school team, they are a great source of information and support
* Look for other homeschooled families in your area, joining up can also be a positive move
* BBC2 has some great programmes on early on the morning, sit and watch with your kids, make notes, talk about the programme content later or if that doesn't work, record it and use it when it suits
* I'm a huge believer in reading, I've always loved reading and I've tried to share that with my kids, dyslexia doesn't need to quash that love, just work with it (if you are dealing with dyslexia) in a confident way your child will enjoy. Charley will often read this blog, read my to-do lists and discuss them with me!
* Let people know you are homeschooling, set out clear rules on when you can have visitors and when you cant, or just go with the flow. I've chosen the latter b/c the people in my life are positive influences on Charley and often he's free to chill out for an hour or two.
* So long as your kids are happy with what they are learning (though maths/english should be a must) don't get in knots when your plans change, it's surprising how much more your kids will want to learn when you do it positively
* Decide when to stop 'official' learning for the day. We go till around 3 but no earlier. Sometimes we have gone till 5ish and only stopped b/c I needed to do dinner!

Charley is so much more relaxed lately, he asks questions that we'll talk about there and then or sometimes, if it requires more information it will go in the jar. If he struggles with something we have no clock to tell us time is up, we carry on till he's comfortable with it.

I'm by far an expert on all this, I'm just learning as I go but the fact that my son is still talking to me and hasn't threatened to leave home yet has got to be a plus, right?

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