As things unfold and uncertainty sets in about what the next school year is going to look like, I know a lot of people are asking themselves if homeschooling might not be a better option than the distance learning/half day school option that is being floated out by a number of states and counties. (Wondering what school might look like in the fall? This teacher has a few thoughts about it.)
Allow me to start by saying this. Distance Learning is NOT Homeschooling. It’s very, very different. Distance learning is teacher led and parent enforced. It is working for some and not working at all for others. Homeschooling is parent led and parent enforced. You get to decide who does what and when they do it.
People get super frustrated when homeschoolers say “Homeschool is not for everyone.” But honestly, it isn’t. You have to be willing and have the bandwidth to figure out a curriculum for your kids. You have to be willing and have the bandwidth to create lessons and teach them. You have to be willing and have the bandwidth to be flexible and go with the flow when the flow needs to shift. Not everyone has that available to them right now (or ever). THAT IS 100% FINE.
But if that sounds like something more appealing to you than monitoring distance learning, then, my friend, read on, because I’ve been doing this for two years now and I’d be delighted to share with you a few things I’ve learned.
Here’s my hard earned homeschool wisdom
So, this is a ton of homeschool information. Please know, that we started out knowing nothing and we figured it out as we went. It’s much less overwhelming than it seems. Please know, there are as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschoolers. This is a sampling of what WE do. I’m sharing it here to give YOU and idea of what you could do if you so choose. I am NOT telling you what do to, just trying to offer options. (Are we clear? Because, you know, people are touchy these days…)
I would recommend starting out by contacting the district to see what resources they offer for homeschooling. You SHOULD have access to whatever resources your public school has available to them such as library and special ed resources, but districts have different rules.
First things first,
The key thing to remember about homeschooling is that it isn’t “school” at home, it’s learning at home. It takes a while to get away from the whole “we have to do what they do at school, at home.” It’s more flexible in many ways. There’s a period of “deschooling” that can take anywhere up to 6 months where everyone learns to adjust away from “I’m going to learn what I’m supposed to learn when I’m supposed to learn it” towards “I’m going to learn what I want to learn” and from “School happens from 8-3 with these breaks and these subjects” to “learning can happen anytime anywhere and we are going to do it more intuitively and less rigidly.
(We have stuck to the state mandated curriculum for math so the kids could transition back should they eventually desire, everything else has been more fluid.)
It helps to know that (at least for our school district) a day of homeschool is 4 hours of learning, including sports, kitchen science, art etc. which leaves a lot of time for hobbies and fun, which often turn out to be educational anyway.
Now for the Resources:
There are a TON of online resources for subjects that you don’t want to/can’t teach yourselves. I know a lot of people who use this to do their own version of virtual school: https://www.time4learning.com/ (You can find the various state laws around homeschooling there. DON’T just start homeschooling without letting your district know. Your child will be considered truant.)
Math: We used to use Kahn academy for math , we have friends who use Aleks. Our kids didn’t do well with online math. For the youngest, it was going in one eye and right back out the other and the other just got frustrated with it all, so we just got the textbooks they use at the public school and work our way through them.
Science: For science we’ve been using MelScience heavily supplemented by lessons that I researched online and put together. We got a few friends together once a week and did science together.
We also attend science lectures when we can. (Santa Cruz offers many, but there are also a ton online.)
I rely a lot on YouTube educational videos like Crash Course Kids and Crash Course to supplement lessons that I do. There’s a wealth of information on YouTube, especially for science and history.
Language Arts: For language arts, I mostly just have the kids read a bunch and write some kind of book report (either something about a favorite character, or the themes, or fill out a worksheet with basic questions.) then, depending on what issues I see in their writing, I do a lesson on the problem. It helps that I’m an English major and writer by trade… If they aren’t taking a creative writing class through our hybrid school, I give them prompts, which they usually ignore to write their own thing.
We also do Spelling Workbooks and Grammar Workbooks.
State Standards: If you are worried that you aren’t meeting state standards, you can get them from your state’s government website to compare to what you’re doing.
Standards aren’t mandatory, but can be helpful to keep an eye on in case you want your kids to transition back to public school eventually.
More Online Resources: This company offers a TON of really cool online classes, if you want to supplement: https://outschool.com/
TeachersPayTeachers is where teachers can sell their lesson plans. I’ve found a lot of really cool worksheeets and lessons here.
The Internet, duh…there’s a TON of stuff out there for homeschooling parents. It truly is amazing.
OK, I know that was a lot. Feel free to ask me about any of it or if you need anything else! You can find me on Facebook.
If you’d like to add something, please feel free to leave a comment.