QUESTIONS ABOUT HOMESCHOOLING?
First of all, you are not alone. Before I started homeschooling, I had tons of questions, and a lot of generic answers, which I'm afraid didn't help me very much. A lot of the answers I got were the well meaning types such as, "you'll have to figure out what's right for your family", or "don't worry, everything will be fine". Those types of answers. So, I decided to compile a list of questions that I had in the beginning, that I didn't get concrete answers for. I wanted to give you honest answers; concrete answers, like I would have liked to have been told when I first pondered this idea in my head.
Please keep in mind, that I have homeschooled for only 2 1/2 years. I am nearly a newbie. So this comes from a semi-newbie' s point of view.
First question... 1) Where to start?? So many types of curriculum, so many approaches - what is the best and how to decide?
Yes, all the types of curriculum can be overwhelming. I had a difficult time initially adjusting to homeschooling because I had worked at a public school for many years. That was the only way I knew how to teach. That is the only way I had been trained to teach. So at first, I ran it like my classroom at school. Big Flop!!! My kids were tired, and sick of worksheets, and hated every minute of it. There was not much difference between home and school, and their friends were at school. I knew that I had been called to homeschool so I proceeded forward. This year, I finally got it, and Charlotte Mason helped me. She had more insight on a child's education, than anything I had ever read. She explained that children need real books, about real things, written by real people who had real life experiences, in order to learn. She also said that children need to see, and explore, and have the freedom to sit for hours watching things in nature, and enjoy learning about real life. These things they would hold dear to their hearts. Rich literature tells more about history, than any textbook IMHO. Books about astrologers, the first scientists, adventurers, the Bible. All these things tell real stories about real people that lived on this earth. Children remember these things, and they become a part of them for life. They don't forget them. Of course, in order for a child to have a well rounded education, one needs math, and there are many different math curriculum's out there. I use Forresman Wesley for my 6 YO, and I use Saxon for my oldest ds. I really like Saxon. He really knows what students need to learn math. It's not at all confusing, and very easy for even the slow learner to achieve. I chose Forresman Wesley for my 6 YO because of the hands-on activities, and colorful pages.
I am using A Beka for 6YO's reading program. It is quite advanced, so we are taking it very slowly. He is learning and grasping it in small amounts, but I enforce a no pressure atmosphere in my homeschool. There is no pressure to learn. If one of the kid's is struggling with a subject, and I see that they are getting frustrated, instead of pressuring them to push forward, we take a break from it for a week or two. Then we go back to it. Low and behold, in most cases they are ready to receive the information, and press forward, after that little break. Sometimes after a break, they will easily complete the assignment they struggled so hard with the first time. They just needed time to process it. My homeschool is run so totally different from when I started, and everyone is happier. Everyone is excited to learn more things, and about new people. They are enjoying learning, and IMHO that is when learning is cemented in their brains.
Second question: 2)? What to say to so many who express strong doubts (esp. parents, neighbors, etc.)
Okay, there will always be people out there that express doubts or opinions about what you feel is best for your child. At first, I was rather defensive. Now, they can have whatever opinion they want, but I know in my heart I am doing what is right for my kids, and no one can change that. For over a year, I didn't tell my parents that I was homeschooling, because they were so anti-homeschool. When I finally told them, they said that they had wondered if I was, and that of all their kids, they knew that I would be the one who could do it, and do a good job of it. They said that their opinions of homeschooling had changed dramatically, and that they thought that homeschooling was becoming so common, that it just wasn't an issue anymore. I find that people who are judgmental at first, only react that way, because they don't really know what we do. They always relay the most extreme cases, that they have heard of, but when they find out how very normal we are, and how normal our kids are, they usually end up asking me how I do it. Some have even considered homeschooling themselves after I have told them all the great things about it. I have had many people approach me and ask me questions about how to get started. I think if you approach people that are skeptical with an open mind, and not get defensive, they too will form an open mind, and be more accepting.
Third question: 3) How to address internal doubts - WILL my child succeed if I take this non traditional approach?? Will my child blame me exclusively for every doubt that she ever has about herself.? ("If only I'd gone to regular school, I'd already know/be/think.)
Yes...Yes... Yes... more than you will ever know. They will flourish like you could never have believed. No, your child will thank you for making school interesting and a positive experience for them. My 15 YO ds, who attended public school until 7th Grade, loves being homeschooled. He still has friends from his old school, that he sees when they get home from school. His best friend lives down the street from us. My ds is in school the same time as he, and when they are both done for the day, they are either here, or at his house. My 6YO, who has always been homeschooled, also has a friend down the street that is 6. He attends kindergarten at a public school. They play after school as well. Their friends don't think of them any
different than any of their other friends. My 15YO even has a girl who likes him that goes to his old school. She never really showed much interest when he attended school there, but now she likes to email him, and stuff.
I can totally relate to this paragraph, can you? (This is quote from an acquaintance, who is contemplating homeschooling, emailed me...)
"I live in a community where there is very little support or understanding. The schools are all rated very high and so the attitude is, "we have the best, why bother?"? There is also so much materialism (I'm the only one I know who cleans my own home and one of very few who?raises our children without a nanny) so much competition (how many activities can you sign your children up for?!), and so many condescending attitudes toward God and religion (for the uneducated, is the attitude, though I did just get my doctorate!)? I want the best for my children, but defining that in ways that aren't supported (or understood) by the community can be so hard.? BTW, that's why I do love reading your emails - so affirming! - and I have so much deep admiration for everyone who is part of this virtual community. "
My answer to her:
I live in the same sort of area. The public school that ds used to attend, was in a very wealthy part of town. Most of the students that attend the school come from very wealthy families. The school has a lot of money, and the students have a lot of high cost material possessions. This was very difficult for my son at first, because he wanted what they had, and we just couldn't afford all that fancy stuff. Even if we could afford it, I don't think 5th-7th graders need $200 cell phones, expensive I-pods, and laptop computers. He was always saying that so-in-so had this or that, or these expensive shoes, or cloths. It was making my ds very materialistic. Thank goodness he is no longer that way. People were very snobby there too, especially the parents. A lot of them go to our church too, and are snobs at church as well. Well, what comes around, goes around, their kids are snobs too. I'm just so glad that I don't have to deal with them anymore.
Last question: I'd like to address the socialization issue.?
It really depends on how you look at this question. We have a huge homeschooling support group, and coop in our town. This helps a lot, knowing other homeschool families in the area. Our group meets on a monthly basis, and the kids have a ball together. We are also in 4-H. Our is predominantly made up of homeschool kids. We consider them family. Our local YMCA hosts homeschool PE for the kids, 3x a week, and there are group field trips we take, picnics in the park, you name it. Our kids are very social, but with kids we want them to be social with. I am sure you can agree that you don't want your child to be social with every kid out there. Homeschooled kids are usually very polite, good natured, and are able to communicate with all age groups, where as some children who attend a school outside the home, can be the type of child we don't want our kids to be friends with. So you have to ask yourself this
question: Do you want your child to be friends with a few really nice kids, or a lot of kids, that are rude, obnoxious, and bullies? I mean, how many people do you hang out with on a regular basis? You probably have a few good friends, and a lot of acquaintances, right? That's perfectly normal. This is normal for your child too. In answer to your question about a child not having people to play with during the day, when his friends are at school, just tell them what I tell my kids, that you are in school too, and you can play with them after school. This works with no problem, with my kids.
So I hope I helped a little. It's hard being a newbie. I had so many questions at first, and had all the same one's you have. The only thing I can say is (and this is the truth) the longer you do it, the more comfortable it will become. Children are very perceptive, and know when we are unsure of ourselves. The more comfortable you become homeschooling the more comfortable they will be learning.