It’s September, and for some of you this is a time to consider the homeschooling option, in addition to public and private school possibilities, to see which educational choice best fits your family. Perhaps your kids are very young, but you are delaying preschool and gathering more information about homeschooling. Or perhaps your kids are already in school, but something isn’t feeling or working right and homeschooling might be a good alternative.
Here are a few of my suggestions on how to take the plunge (or just test the waters) into homeschooling.
Go To A Homeschool Park Day
More broadly, connect with your local homeschool group by joining its online community or attending events, but park days in particular are a great way to meet a variety of homeschooling families and begin to form connections. Almost all local homeschool groups have at least one weekly park gathering, and some groups even have themed park days (e.g., Young Homeschoolers meet-ups). Meeting the same families week after week and watching kids build friendships is very rewarding, and can often lead to spin-off playgroups and homeschool co-ops with like-minded families.
Learn More About Homeschooling
My favorite books about homeschooling [include] Free to Learn by Peter Gray, Learning all the Time by John Holt and Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto . In particular, Nancy Wallace’s books, Better Than School and Child’s Work, are gems if you can find them at your local library. There are also countless websites and blogs that can shed light on many different homeschooling approaches.
Think About Your Approach
What type of homeschooling approach seems to fit best with your family’s rhythms and your learners’ needs? Are you more comfortable with a school-at-home approach to homeschooling? If so, there is an abundance of packaged homeschooling curricula available for purchase to take much of the guess-work out of homeschooling. Would you prefer a more child-centered, community-based learning approach? If so, unschooling might work better for you and your learners.
Trust Your Children
Trust that your children’s inner curiosity will lead to a fulfilling homeschooling experience that will challenge their intellect and deepen their knowledge, strengthen family and community connections and trigger an unquenchable thirst for learning.
Trust your singular gift of knowing your children’s needs, interests, strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else. Trust that you are perfectly positioned to facilitate your children’s learning by cultivating a rich learning environment, both at home and in the community, using a variety of accessible resources. Trust that homeschooling will offer your family the freedom, flexibility and focus on individualized learning to create a robust and engaging learning environment.
Try It Out
Experiment with homeschooling and its different approaches and see if it works for your family. Take it year-by-year, child-by-child and see how it goes.
Homeschooling is an option worth considering among the other schooling choices available. These simple start-up steps can help you begin to decide if homeschooling will fit your family.
Reprinted with permission from City Kids Homeschooling.
Kerry McDonald, M.Ed, lives in Cambridge with her husband and four children. She is passionate about child-led unschooling, Attachment Parenting, homebirthing, holistic health and natural, organic living. Kerry has a Master’s degree in Education from Harvard University.