You're here because you're going to homeschool your kid, thinking about it, or already homeschooling and not happy. If you're a happy homeschool parent you don't need to read this.
You're in for some relief because I'm sharing what I have learned from education experts, successful homeschool moms, books and books...blogs and more blogs, and my own experiences homeschooling condensed into something NOT overwhelming as all that. This may change the way you look at the education of your child, as going on a journey to find the best way to educate my children did that for me.
I wrote this for you, but what spurred me into sharing my strong beliefs was my awesome sister who has a son failing in public school, just barely was told he has ADD, has five kids and is really busy. She has thought about home-schooling for a few years now, but is too overwhelmed to give it a try.
There are many obstacles we are all going to face. To get over our hurdles we have to either take them down, step by step, or get around them. The option to give up or keep doing what isn't working, is choosing to fail, and this obliterates potential. It's the biggest regret people have when they look back on their life. Once you know how to face your challenges, step by step, it isn't overwhelming. Most of the time we're focused on trying to get over our obstacles, instead of breaking it down so we can get over them. Let me share a personal experience with my kid to show you what I'm talking about.
There are 3 things that have to happen to overcome any obstacle you face.
1. Realize there's a problem. I waited years for the school to help my son's speech problem, because I trusted they would. I had already taken action to put him in their speech program. I finally realized nothing was changing and if I wanted something to change I would have to do something different about it.
2. Obtain access to the tools to overcome the problem. At the time we really couldn't afford to take him to a great speech therapist several days a week. So I looked for free resources first and found Youtube videos specific to his speech problem. The videos were shared by licensed speech therapists. I tested out the information I had learned with my son to see if it would help, and it did.
3. Break it down. First, I couldn't expect that their would be no work involved. However it would be very overwhelming if I implemented everything all at the same time. We started by practicing the correct way to pronounce the letter with the correct tongue placement. Daily he practiced this over and over as long as he wanted. Then I corrected him when he said it wrong and asked him to say the correct way back to me. After just a month he had no trace of a speech problem. Hurdle obliterated!
This same strategy will work for kids who hate to read, have behavior issues, have been diagnosed with any "disorder," and even works to get my laundry and dishes done. Obstacles are not created equal. Sometimes kids are going to have a really heavy backpack like a lifetime disorder...and they will need to implement the same strategies to make their backpack light enough to carry or become stronger so they can get over other obstacles.
Homeschooling is unique. You have the opportunity to tailor the education of your child to their needs, interests, capacities, and passions. You can focus on your child's strengths to overcome their weaknesses. You have the opportunity to spend more time with them and build a stronger relationship. So if you can, why not take advantage of this wonderful opportunity? I'm not saying everyone, homeschool your kids, but it's not a disadvantage to your kids...like a lot of people tend to think.
Before you lay out all your excuses for why you can't, I want you to see homeschool from the perspective I have learned to see it from. It makes all the difference.
1. You're not the teacher. Most people think as soon as they homeschool that they are the teacher. Picture a classroom teacher trying to teach and do dishes and now shred it. You're the facilitator. Your job is to figure out the easiest way to help your child learn the things they NEED to be happy and successful, not spend over half of your day trying to pull off mom and teacher.
You do this successfully by pulling from resources where you can to make it easy for both of your NEEDS to be met. You're child is going to get most of their education from other resources, not you. Personally, I teach my kids art because I love it and I know I'm good at it. But I still pull from other art resources to teach them art. If they have questions about any subject they can check with me if I'm available or the internet for example, if I'm not. If there are free resources, use them, as long as they work for your kid. If you have to pay for an expert, do it, as long as it works for your kid. If you need to take a break for your sanity, do it! You're in control of the facilitating...this means you choose to find, keep, shift, or let go of what is or is not working. Don't give this control away when you can have it...makes no sense.
2. Don't be a dictator. Well high five, you think you're in charge, but warning your kids will shove it in your face with rebellion because they can. Look I'm not assuming anything here, but if you are going around being the Hitler of your house, nobody in your house will be happy. If you hit your kids, they will hate you, not respect you. If you demand them to do their work, they will sit there until you force them...and I bet you can imagine some results here...like possibly hating school. Is it a war that you're aiming for? Then stop turning things into one. The war won't stop until you make it stop. We are always telling our kids to do stuff but rewarding them for bad behavior, leaving out the why, shifting the consequences to ourselves, and worse of all being bad examples.
If your kids are not punks, there is a reason, you get what I just said. You listen to them and have empathy. You have built a good relationship with them so they trust, respect and listen to you. They need to know that you are on the same team as them. Your goal is to BUILD a great Relationship. You want them to love you, listen to you, respect you, and confide in you...they want that from you too, so give it to them first and they will give it back to you.
3. Your kid is unique. Your kids most important NEED, is to learn what makes them and their lives unique and how they can use it to live happily. What's the point if all other needs are taken care of, if they don't see how they are needed in the world. This is why suicides rates are climbing. We need to forget about trying to fit our kids into the standardized box! This is the worst thing we could ever do to them. Don't even get me started on grading. Einstein is the perfect example we got it all wrong because the dude was a genius, contributed tons to our benefit, yet had autistic tendencies, had a hard time in school, and couldn't read until eight!
We need everybody to contribute. In the end it doesn't matter what you look like, how crappy your parents are, what country you're from, what disabilities you have, or how much money you make that determines a happy life. We all have lots of things to overcome and the goal is happiness. If a PhD will make you happy and allow you to contribute, go for it!!! The key to happiness is contributing to the world. Your kid can work at fast food or be a doctor and be happy, if it's a good fit for them.
4. The brain is a muscle...not potential set at birth. As soon as parents realize that their kid is either catching on quick or having troubles with something educational, it gets personal. What results is blame, comparison, despair, or denial. If you have gone through one of these things, you're like every parent. We have these feelings because we want the survival of our kids and what's best for them. We get scared when they start to fail and happy when they excel. There is not a single person in the world that excels at everything. But even so, there are people all over the world that don't let obstacles stop them from excelling. Teach your kids the Growth Mindset and they will understand that progress takes effort. They will learn they have control over what they do, as they face their own obstacles.
5. Education is not a destination. Want to race to have the kid with the most potential?! Eventually your kid is going to stop running the race and ask where the hell am I going? I'm here to tell you it's not a race. You can't push a kid into a lifestyle that wasn't their choice and expect happiness to follow. You also can't expect them to know where they want to go if you never gave them the choice. Most of the time all the sudden High School graduates get to direct their own life and have no idea what they want to pursue, yet now it costs them thousands of dollars and their most advantageous years.
They have to learn what makes them unique, to listen to themselves, become self-motivated and choose their life and now is the best time to give them that opportunity. As their interests peak in things, as the facilitator, you put resources in front of them that will help them move forward. You make sure they know and understand where they are headed. If you're worried your kid isn't interested in anything, just take the time to get to know them, and stop fighting against who they are. Your kid was born a learner and they will learn more about themselves, if you let go of the reins and give them to your kid.
In a classroom we are telling kids what to learn and losing resources. If you're homeschooling you have way more opportunities to follow your kids interests, so take advantage of it!
Start at their level. Time and time again I have seen kids who haven't learned to master and complete one level, expected to grasp the next one successfully. The opposite is also prevalent, like kindergartners who know how to read doing the same things as kids learning to read. This makes absolutely no sense to me. No, we aren't at the same level in subjects, do we have to keep freaking out about it and holding back kids or desperately trying to catch them up? My job isn't to make my kids like every other kid so they fit into some stupid percentage on a waste of a tree. Start where your child is at and find the resources that will help them excel at the pace that works best for them. If something is too hard, this indicates changing the pace, curriculum, or even the way to approach the subject. Don't ever, ever, do it for them. If you won't listen to me, listen to Maria Montessori one of the world's leading experts in education, "teach them to do it themselves." I see this all the time with arts and crafts...the parent taking over because it's too hard for the kid. If they want to cut with scissors but don't know how...let them cut crappy, please, they will get better at it.
Crush the perfect mindset. After all I have said, don't expect yourself to do all of the above, all the time. You're not perfect...either am I...either are your kids...and everyone else on the earth. Expect imperfect. Your homeschool experience isn't going to be perfect, either are the resources you find, either are your vacations!! So let's get over it, move forward and enjoy what is great instead. Now enjoy the feeling of a huge weight lifted off your shoulders...sigh.
So now are you ready to learn to be an awesome facilitator?! Here is what you do...
1. Learn what your kids are passionate about, ask them, watch them, write them down.
2. Learn about their learning style. Are they good listeners? Do they write things down? Do they love to read? Do they draw? Do they like colorful stuff? Do they hate to be cold? Do they have troubles concentrating with noise? Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask about everything to figure out what makes it easier for them to learn. Each kid is different.
3. Now search on the internet, ask friends, forums and use the easiest methods you can to find what curriculum, books, people and places fit their learning style and/or passions.
4. Make goals with your kids input. Make goals that fit their pace. Make the little things an accomplishment with small rewards and the big things with big rewards. Choose rewards your both okay with. I don't care if people think bribing is bad, it works. I reward myself daily for doing the dishes I hate with a small treat. If I didn't, I wouldn't get excited about doing the dishes. It can be made into the most simple math formula ever kid does work = reward. If your kid likes electronics (what kid doesn't?), give it only when they accomplished the task that gets that reward. This is not about creating a war. It's about creating an opportunity or a good consequence to reaching their goals.
Don't be confusing. If you give them the same reward without the work, it no longer becomes a reward. I'm asking you to kindly give me a million dollars, even if you made all the effort...if you don't I'll start screaming. Now do you see how wrong it is to give a reward without the effort, why it changes the expectations and causes you pain. Isn't that what we do all the time? We work to give our kids everything while they sit and play on their electronics...when what we really want them to be doing is cleaning or doing home-work. This makes no sense, so stop doing it.
That's it!! My goodness you made it through this long post but you bi-passed all the years of research it took me to get this info. One time I read the Love and Logic Magic for Kids and was so frazzled by the end that I took the book and summarized it into a poster on my fridge so I wouldn't go crazy implementing it. Good gracious I'm not going to remember what to say, if such and such happens. If you get it, but just need it simplified into one sentence reminders, just copy the pic below. I hope this helps you and your family have more happy memories.
If you have a moment, leave a comment on how something I mentioned that made a difference in your homeschool. Feel free to ask me any homeschool questions you have as well.