Do you hate History? Did you watch the clock tick off each minute as your teacher droned on? Did you suffer through dry readings, memorize meaningless dates, and answer pointless review questions? Do you dread subjecting your child to the same boring process?
If so, I’m sorry. Believe me, it doesn’t have to be that way!
While in college I have a vivid memory of sitting in the library studying with some friends for an upcoming test for World Civilization. We were reviewing English history during the 1500’s. My friends were struggling with dates, names and seemingly unrelated events.
I wasn’t struggling. The reason… in high school I had read a series of historical novels set in the courts of England. Nothing boring or dry there. There had been romance, court intrigue, religious conflicts, betrayal, heroes and villains. I’d cried for Queen Catherine as she watched her marriage and family crumble because she couldn’t produce a male heir, and was horrified as her daughter, Bloody Mary, turned her reign into one marked by revenge, fanaticism and bloodshed.
I wrestled with the issues that caused England to break from the Catholic church and was fascinated by the complex and fragile allegiances that were formed to consolidate power. The characters I met were complicated individuals who were forced to make decisions that would affect whole countries, individuals often beset with self-doubt and questions. I found myself caught up in their dilemmas wondering what I would do, what they should do…and rarely finding a satisfactory answer. (more…)
The first and biggest mistake many of us make is teaching a curriculum, not a child.
Let’s take math. Our child needs to learn mathematical concepts, so we choose a math program. Then, almost universally, we become focused on the curriculum instead of the student.
Have you ever become hyper focused on your child finishing that day’s math page. We hound them by saying, “Pay attention, we have to finish this!” We threaten and bribe to keep them on task.
The shift is subtle, but the math lesson is no longer about the child learning the material, it’s about getting the lesson done. After all, our accompanying teacher’s manual says we need to do 4 lessons a week, with one day for testing! The curriculum has become our focus.
Completing the lesson, or the entire book, is of no value if your child didn’t master the concepts in the lesson. This shift in focus is sneaky, we don’t recognize it happening until 3 months down the line when we realize our child is hopelessly lost. (more…)
I LOVE September. Forget the whole ‘January is a new year’ business, it’s the start of a new school year I love. So here is my list of what needs to be done as you begin the new school year.
Most of us want to jump straight into ordering curriculum, but there is some important work to be done before that. Arrange for some quiet, distraction free time and grab your notebook and pen. Go to a park, the library or Starbucks and think through the following:
- What are your goals for the year for each of your children?
- What are your child’s strengths…where do they struggle?
- What worked last year that you want to build on this year?
- What didn’t work last year?
- How has your family’s needs changed…financially? Ages of children? New High Schooler?
2. Make an ‘overall’ plan.
- Decide on what curriculum you need to purchase this year. (If you need ideas for elementary school children you can check out my post here.)
- Make sure you’ve covered the basics: Reading, writing, math, history, science.
- Decide on any classes your children will be participating in, either with your homeschool group, music lessons etc.
- Are your children going to be playing sports? If not, how are you covering PE?
- If you have High Schoolers, make sure your students are on track to have the necessary courses to graduate in your state.
3. Purchase Curriculum
- If saving money is a priority check into used curriculums on Craigslist and ebay. Also, ask around in your homeschool group…perhaps you can purchase used, make a trade, or borrow. Instead of purchasing readers check out the library. I’ll be posting an article soon about how to save money on curriculum, if you want to know when it’s posted you can subscribe to my email list, or like me on Facebook. New articles will be there.
4. Plan for the next 3 months
- Dividing up specific assignments for the entire year is a recipe for disaster. Trust me, and the legions of other homeschool moms who’ve slaved over constructing year schedules. Schedule is done and then, bam, in Octobe a bad case of the flu worked its’ way into your household, and now you are hopelessly behind, and you have dates and plans and pages to finish. There are too many variables to be sure where you will be next February so hold off on a whole year plan.
- 3 months is a doable option. You’ve planned ahead, but adjusting isn’t a mammoth task.
- So for now, look at your curriculum and figure out what you want to have done by Thanksgiving and then break it up for each week. I find breaking it up into days is just too tedious. If I know what I need to get through this week, I’m good.
5. Enroll your child in any additional classes, music lessons, sports they will be participating in.
6. Join HSLDA. Just do it. Even if you never need their services, you are supporting other homeschool parents who are fighting for their rights to homeschool…and those cases protect your rights. (For those who don’t know HSLDA is the Home School Legal Defense Association. Your membership is basically legal insurance. The attorneys at HSLDA do a phenomenal job fighting for the rights of homeschoolers. Check them out.)
7. Set up your ‘homeschool’ area
- It’s fun to surf Pinterest looking at people’s homeschool rooms, HOWEVER, a dedicated room is not necessary!
- I never had the space for a homeschool room, so we homeschooled at the dining room table and the living room couches. We had bookshelves of books sprinkled throughout the house, and each child had a box that contained all they needed. In the morning they could grab their box and get to work.
- So organize what spaces you have to accomodate schooling, but a fancy set up won’t make your school any more or less successful.
9. Find a support group
- I think it’s best to find a local group of families that you can join. Having a support network, a place to go with ideas, friends to call who understand the frustrations is critical for success.
- If you can’t find a local group, find an online community of homeschoolers. The key is to have a place to go for encouragement, ideas, and
Get New Homeschool Year Checklist