Sometimes people ask me how I have the patience to homeschool my kids. Sometimes I ask myself that. The truth is, I don’t always have the patience. Some days are great. Some days are crap. But typically, it’s my favorite hat to wear as a mom (aside from the “Because I said so” hat). If you love homeschooling and are well-equipped for the job of arming your little soldiers to fight real world battles, then stop reading. Go give yourself an apple or slap a sticker on your hand. You don’t need my advice. You got this.
If you are new to the idea of home education, please read on. I’ve been teaching my kids for 15 years, am not a “certified teacher” and I did not get a college education. I am by no means an expert on homeschooling, but I do like to share some of my helpful hints to those just embarking on such an important and rewarding journey.
KNOW THE LAWS
In the United States, each state has different regulations for home education. First, you’ll need to find out what your states’ laws are, for example, how much time they must spend on school per week, and what curriculum you’re allowed to do. Click here to go to the Home School Legal Defense Association’s website and click on your state. In our awesome home state of Texas, we have two laws regarding home education:
So basically, after second grade, as long as you have a written (or online) curriculum, you are considered a “private school” (in Texas) and can pretty much do whatever you want. If, however, your child wishes to attend college after high school, you better make sure they are completing the required classes for admission.
TEACH AS A GROUP IF YOU CAN
Homeschooling can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re teaching multiples. I have four kids who I homeschool: a 12th grader, an 11th grader and two 8th graders. My two youngest are a year apart, one boy and one girl and I chose to teach them at the same level. My son, Finn, the older of the two, was not mentally ready for Kindergarten at age 5, so I started both Finn and Kate at Kindergarten at the same time (Finn was 6, Kate was 5). It has made life much easier for me and they can’t even tell a difference. And they have someone to cheat from when it’s test time.
At one point I had two 3rd graders, a 6th grader, and a 7th grader. I chose a fifth grade level science course for all of us to do together. Yes it was pretty easy for my older kids, but they still learned a lot; in fact, they retained most of the concepts in that class. Don’t listen to those who mock you or discourage you from doing things to make your life easier. When the teacher is happy, the students are usually happy, and that is when true learning comes!
STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES!
In addition to schooling them at the same level, I encourage you to step back from massive academics. If you are preparing to set sail and have never homeschooled before, my advice to you would be to STOP! Just stop with the school for a spell. Maybe six weeks, or six months. Your child is not going to “fall behind,” because education is not a race. Grab a few coffee table books for you to look through if you get bored. Read together, get exercise together, and if you are heading out on a boat, learn to sail together. Strengthen the bond between parent and child first, and it will make the road to learning together much smoother.
BE ONE DAY AHEAD OF YOUR CHILD
I’ve realized that I don’t have to know calculus when my kids are just learning their times tables. All I have to know is what they are going to learn tomorrow, so I can teach it to them. Take it one day at a time. Grab the textbook (or log on) and see what they will be doing tomorrow, so as to stay one day ahead of the kids. To read more about what curriculum we use, check out our web page on Homeschooling here or scroll back to the top menu and click on Homeschool.
If you’re like me you’ve probably forgotten much of what you learned in school. Don’t fret; but let your kids know you aren’t a genius, and that you two are now learning together. Ask them to have compassion on you as you refresh your memory on multiplying fractions and analyzing adverbs. And in turn, you will have compassion on them when they can’t figure out how to multiply said fractions. Showing them that you honestly struggle with some of the concepts will help them to see you as human, instead of as an infallible instructor ruling with an iron fist.
I literally could go on for days sharing my experiences and things I’ve learned over the last 15 years, but you need to stop reading now, and go watch our latest video on homeschooling (below); we share with you what curriculum we use and what a typical school day looks like for us. Then go spend some time browsing the HSLDA website. I encourage you to join the organization as they have a plethora of information for compliance and legislation, support groups, and current news stories. They have advisors and lawyers at your service should you ever be questioned by someone of authority. In 15 years, we’ve never been confronted; but then again, homeschooling is fairly common in the great state of Texas. HSLDA did not pay me to endorse them, I just really like their site and they’re a great resource to have in your back pocket…er, teacher’s handbook.