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Saturday, January 19, 2008

How to Homeschool (NFAHM lost files)

The Lost FilesPrologue
What a Difference A Year Makes Part 1
Chapter 1: What a Difference A Year Makes Part 2
Chapter 2: Background Influences
Chapter 3: What Am I doing? Part 1
Chapter 3: What Am I doing? Part 2
Chapter 4: Best Laid Plans.... Part 1
Chapter 4: Best Laid Plans.... Part 2
Chapter 5: Socialization? Part 1
Chapter 5: Socialization? Part 2
Chapter 6 : I thought I already knew my children! Part 1
Chapter 6 : I thought I already knew my children! Part 2
Chapter 7 : Leaving the School System Part 1
Chapter 7 : Leaving the School System Part 2
Chapter 8: Choosing Curriculum Part 1
Chapter 8: Choosing Curriculum Part 2
Chapter 9: A Typical Homeschooling Day? Part 1
Chapter 9 : A Typical Homeschooling Day? Part 2
Chapter 10 : Homeschool Burn-out
Chapter 11 : At Their Own Pace
Chapter 12 : A tailored Education
Chapter 13 :How To Homeschool


If, you have decided to homeschool, or at least are giving it a great deal of consideration. There are many things to deliberate. First, you have to find out about the legalities of homeschooling in your state. Next, you have to decide how you are going to homeschool your child. Lastly, you need to tailor your homeschooling choices to the specific needs and strengths of your children.

Homeschooling is regulated by the state and controlled by local school boards. Many local school boards may give you the impression that you need to ask permission to homeschool, the truth is you do not. Repeatedly, the local school districts have taken steps to approve or deny homeschool letter of intent forms. They do this by calling them "applications". They are not applications. They are letters of intention, simply stating that you intend to homeschool your child. You do not need approval in any state to homeschool. In fact, .homeschooling has always been legal in all 50 states. It has been a bit of a fight to get the various members of the education and social services establishment to accept that fact, but great progress has been made. Currently about two-thirds of the states have specific laws authorizing and regulating homeschooling. In the balance of the states, homeschoolers may legally operate as a small private school or provide .equivalent instruction.. The details vary considerably from state to state and opinions about the law vary from district to district.. (Michael Farris HSLDA.ORG)

Some states are more restrictive than others are. The amount of restrictions vary greatly, from one state just assuming that you are homeschooling if you do not send your children to school, to other states mandating that you form a private school, complete with all the paperwork involved if you choose to homeschool. Currently the least restrictive states are Alaska, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Texas. The most Restrictive States to homeschool in are Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia. To find out where your state stands on homeschooling rules and regulations you stand you need to do a quick internet search on www.hslda.org or www.homeschool.com .

There are as many ways to homeschool a child as there are children. No two are alike, so no approach is alike. However, there are some basic schools of thought or methods when it comes to homeschooling approaches.

One of these approaches is Classical Education. It is one of the more known and a popular approach for college bound homeschoolers. Based on the Trivium (consisting to three phases), an educational model that used for centuries, Classical education focuses on the learning stages of children as they mature. Because children are particularly adept at memorization during the Grammar Phase, a child learns subjects like history and science through facts. During the next stage, the logic phase, which children usually hit in grades seven through 8th, their propensity for arguing is taken into account, and they take the facts previously learned and order the facts into statements and arguments. This is when children start to think independently. Finally, in the Rhetoric stage, once a student has obtained knowledge of the facts and developed the ability to argue those facts, he then learns the skill of communicating those arguments to others. The most popular and probably the best book available today to get you started on a Classical education is The Well-Trained Mind by Jesse Wise and Susan Wise-Bauer.

There is also the Unit studies approach, which involves teaching all subjects through projects, or units. For example, you might decide to learn about lizards. You would then plan a unit study in which you will pull together all of the information you can find about lizards. From this information you will use, spelling and vocabulary works, biology of lizards, art projects. If you are creative, you may even be able to create a math lesson using lizards. Only your imagination will limit you. Once the unit is complete, you will want to cement the knowledge with a field trip to a lizard exhibit.

Probably the most radical form of homeschooling is unschooling. Unschooling means child led learning. Within the unschooling movement, there are many sub-groups. Unschooling parents supply whatever learning tools a child asks for as they ask for them. This means the child has shown interest and readiness in a subject and is therefore to tackle it. Some unschoolers still teach the child to read and do math, some completely leave the child alone to learn these things for themselves. In the end, I have found, in speaking with children who were unschooled that they all did eventually learn to read, spell correctly, write coherently, and perform math problems on varied levels. To learn more about unschooling, look for books by John Holt.

In addition to these, there are many more forms of homeschooling, but they are all combinations of the three types mentioned above. For example, the Charlotte Mason method is a cross between classical homeschooling and unschooling. Using this method, one would give their child brief daily lessons in addition to uninterrupted free time. This would enable the student to pursue individual, discovery-based learning activities. The premise is learning should be fun, not burdensome, so children can develop a love of learning for its own sake. This approach best describes how my children and I are currently homeschooling. We spend 3 hours a day on music practice, and online learning programs, assigned reading, and writing. Then they have at least 4 afternoons a week to explore their own interests.

As I just mentioned, I use online learning tools and programs instruct my children each morning. We do this because our family enjoys technology. There may be a family interested in a similar homeschooling approach that has philosophical reasons not to use technology, and so has no computer or other electronics in the home. That is fine, they would use books and lesson plans to teach their children instead.


Once you input your own family lifestyle and personality into your homeschool plan, along with allowing for your child.s personal learning styles and needs, you will find that you homeschool unlike any other family you ever meet. Because of this, you should never follow to the law, anyone else.s homeschooling plan. Developing your family.s homeschooling process may be a difficult and sometimes lonely path to follow, but in the end, you will be happy that you did the work yourself.

You should be aware that your homeschool plan will very likely change from the day you start homeschooling to the end of the first year, and will continue to evolve over time. It will very likely change drastically. Personally, I started out the year determined to do unit studies. It did not take me long to figure out that I lacked that kind of organizational skill, and that my children needed an interactive program to hold their attention. Unit studies are a great idea, but they were just not for us. Unfortunately, there is no way for you to know in advance whether an approach will work unless you try it.

I will now pass on the best advice given to me before I started homeschooling. It is to keep your money in your pocket the first year. Homeschool curriculums are expensive, ranging from $500 to $2000+ a year. You would be much better off piecing your curriculum together the first year, until you figure out what will work for you. If you choose to use the internet, you can actually find tons or unit studies, lesson plans, and online learning games for free. Homeschooling does not have to cost a fortune.

Purchasing a pre-made curriculum can make your life easy, but if it does not work for your child, it can also be a very expensive mistake. (I previously wrote this several years ago)

Read more Notes From a Homeschooling Mom

Visit Free Home Ed. Homeschool For Free!

1 comment:

Homeschooling Online said...

Andrea - Great summary of the different approaches to homeschooling. For completeness, I would mention "school at home" which is parents who simply recreate the school (text-book, tests, and standards-based) curriculum at home. John.