Homeschooling Tricks of the Trade

Making the decision to homeschool does not come lightly. Understanding the ramifications of teaching children in the home on their education, their development as people and citizens, the impact on the parent’s income and personal time as well as the affect on the home environment itself is paramount to making the right choice. A journey that continues from that first step until graduation and beyond, homechooling success is dependant on through planning, correct understanding, utilizing available resources and an iron determination.

The reasons a parent might choose to homeschool their offspring are many, and typically include influences of religious convictions and a strong desire to dictate the course of education, as well as to filter what their children are exposed to in the way of philosophy and peer pressure.

The Home in Homeschool

Many homeschool families are faced with a major shift in their home environment as the normally separate places, home and school, blend into one. There know needs to be dedicated areas to do work, hold supplies and textbooks when not in use, and generally be a “classroom.” Creative parent teachers everywhere make double use of existing space, holding class at the dinning room table, or on the living room floor, or on the lawn. The mystery novels on the family bookshelf share real estate with math texts and encyclopedias. Room decorations take on a decidedly scholastic slant as a map of the United States serves double duty as reference and poster.

One advantage many traditionally schooled children have over homeschoolers is the ability to be different people in different places. At school they are under pressure to perform, to follow the rules of the institution, and to navigate the sometimes turbulent waters of peerdom. When they come home after school, they are safe; they have their routines and responsibilities, but it is with their family, and there is always the comfort of their favorite comfy chair or the seclusion of the bedroom to escape too.

When the home looks like a school, being able to tap into the comfort and security of the home becomes difficult. By taking a few extra steps this problem can be eliminated.

And Everything In Its Place

Having a bookshelf with doors that close, or that can be discreetly hid behind a nice curtain or blinds, keeps the clutter at bay. A glance in that direction of the house won’t reveal anything at all that suggests “school.” Making posters double-sided can turn that map of the U.S. into a child’s favorite movie poster with a simple flip, and sticking to regimented “school” time will let the child know when to look forward to a recess. With a little advance preparation, parents can make the transition form school to home in as little as a few minutes every day.

What About Work?

Homeschooling can take its toll on many aspects of home life; work is no exception. Whether the parents work outside of the home or not, the impact on work life is perceptible. For those who work for others outside the home, a dialog with the boss can go a long way towards understanding when you need time off for a field trip, a special occasion, or to “substitute” for a day when the at-home parent is ill or needs a break.

For those who teach their kids at home and work from the same place, juggling a teaching schedule with a work schedule can be a daunting task; but a similar approach may prove beneficial. Having a dialog, this time with the kids, can set up understanding. Explaining that there will be times when “Mommy has to work” and making sure the child is occupied with either scholastic or recreational activity will help to get the job done. If the children are older and the type of work allows it, then engaging their assistance can help the job get done faster, and it is educational too.

Special Needs

Making the leap into homeschooling is sometimes less of a decision and more of a necessity. While many who chose to school at home for religious or social reasons may feel it is a necessity, those whose children are special needs may not have any choice at all.

There are resources available le for those special needs parents searching for support in homeschooling. The National Association for Child Development (http://www.nacd.org/) historically helps special needs children; some other resources would include Family Village (http://www.familyvillage.wisc.edu/index.htmlx) and NATHHAN (http://www.nathhan.com/,).

The homeschooling community is self-supporting; parents are willing and eager to share experiences and tips, and sometimes even trade teaching roles. The same can be said of parents whose children may have the same special needs; when those two universes meet, there are resources to be found everywhere.

The Internet

Whatever the family situation, homeschoolers need help to get the job done. The best place to find resources for learning is the Internet, with thousands of sites dedicated to one field of study or another, as well as resources and references aplenty.

There are sites that will take a homeschool family from start to finish with complete curriculums, grading done by staff teachers, and everything from certificates to mortarboards and gowns for sale.

Many local and state government sites provide online information on what steps are needed to register children as homeschoolers and which tests and measures are needed to continue them as such.

Some sites are dedicated to homeschooling itself, and are treasure troves of links and articles and shared experiences on everything from how to administer tests to children with AD/HD to suggestions for alternatives to traditional graduations ceremonies. Some good examples of these sites are Everything Homeschooling (http://www.everythinghomeschooling.com/) and Homefires (http://www.homefires.com/.)

Reference sites, such as Bartleby (http://www.bartleby.com/), the Internet Public Library (http://www.ipl.org/) and Merriam-Webster Dictionary (http://www.m-w.com/) offer students the ability to look up the complete works of William Shakespeare, find a reference book on the Theory of Relativity or look up the spelling of parsimonious.

Other sites provide great utility when needing to perform a specific function, such as calculate the distance from the sun to the moon, or convert grams to ounces; check out www.calculator.com for an example.

Be Prepared�To Be Rewarded

Homeschooling is a sacrefice; the parent has to learn enough to keep up with their children, ensure they are meeting whatever state requirements exist, spend their days teaching and pulling double duty, and getting very little time to themselves. The rewards, of course, must outweigh the sacrifices or there would not be such a large homeschooling community in America. With advance preparation and utilizing the resources available to you, all the while keeping in mind that the home is a home as well as a school, the journey you take with your children will be engaging, satisfying and ultimately rewarding for everyone.

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