The topic for this month’s Sonlight Blog party is Share the best homeschooling advice you have been given. What would you advise new homeschoolers?
When I first started homeschooling, I only knew of one other family in my town that was homeschooling, and since we were new to the area I didn’t even know her very well. Needless to say I didn’t have a lot of advice given to me. I found the most of my information through reading books about homeschooling.
Perhaps that is why the first piece of advice I give to someone who is considering homeschooling is to read up on the subject. Many books have come out since I first did my research but I’ll share the ones that resonated with me the most. One of my favorites was Educating the WholeHearted Child
by Clay and Sally Clarkson. Another one is The Three R’s
by Ruth Beechick. And I read all three of Dr. Raymond Moore’s books. Better Late Than Early
really helped me a lot when my son wasn’t reading at the same time as his peers. (He is considered to be the father of the homeschooling movement. I was happy to be able to hear him speak at the FPEA convention in Orlando years ago. He was 82 at the time!). I also enjoyed reading Homeschooling for Excellence
by David and Micki Colfax. Not so much as a how-to for our family, but as inspiration that I wouldn’t mess up my kids if we did this crazy thing!
Once they’ve done some reading they’ll notice that there are several different philosophies of education and the next step is to decide what method to follow. This will help narrow down the many options for curriculum that are out there. Many people, when they first start homeschooling, start out with textbooks. I’ve never used them (except in my own schooling). I prefer the “living books” method, or literature method, or natural learning, or Charlotte Mason (all basically the same). Because of this we use Sonlight. (Curious?Request a catalog at www.sonlight.com
. (Tip: lots of great articles in the catalog and on the website.) You might want to check out a homeschool convention
near you to see curriculum up close.
The next step is for them to check out their state’s homeschool organization. In Florida it’s FPEA
which has a guide to homeschooling in Florida. Just google “homeschooling in [your state].” It’s also a good idea to see if there is a more local organization. (Try “homeschooling in [your city].)We have one called HERI
which services NE Florida and has information on support groups. I do recommend getting involved in some sort of group – or even better, start your own!
That’s my “getting started” advice. My other tidbits of advice are, in no particular order…
- don’t try to recreate school at home. You are embarking on a new adventure. Don’t feel like you need to “copy the experts.”
- cut yourself lots of slack. I’m firmly convinced that as long as you spend some time reading aloud to your kids and do some math type of stuff and don’t park your kids in front of the TV/computer/gaming console all day, they will learn.
- start of small. You can buy the big complete package, but don’t start out trying to do all the subjects at once. Again, focus on the 3 R’s and then add in some of the other stuff. Utilize block scheduling when possible (science two days a week and history two days a week.)
- involve the little ones. If you give them your attention FIRST they will be happier and will fight less for your attention.
- use siblings as co-teachers. Have an older child read to a younger child, explain the math lesson, entertain the baby while you work with your struggling reader.
- keep the toddler/preschooler at home (don’t send him to daycare/VPK!) and let him listen in to the read alouds. Let him trace letters/shapes, do puzzles, cut coupons, sort beans (15 bean soup bags)/legos. String pasta, beads, cheerios.
- involve your kids in your chores, especially when they are small. Let them “help” even when their help can be messy and imperfect. It will pay out later. Trust me.
Best wishes for a great learning adventure!