Monday, April 26, 2010

DOs and DON'Ts for a successful homeschool experience #4

The following DOs and DON'Ts for a successful homeschool experience are being presented in a series to allow for digestion and discussion. After homeschooling/unschooling my own children for over 22 years I've discovered what worked and what didn't work for us was universal. Feel free to add your comments and concerns or ask questions.

#4 DO get organized. This means organizing all aspects of your life not just your homeschooling. Make a space in your home (not a class room) where you can keep most of your homeschooling supplies including books and writing materials. A corner of your child's bedroom will do for this. As your child grows this space will evolve with age appropriate supplies. When the children are young it can be used as a play area. Preteen children can use the space as a reading nook and teenagers can use the space as a home office or study space for college courses. Designate chores to keep the household running smoothly. As children outgrow school supplies and clothing organize a yearly tag sale to rid yourself of the clutter and bring in some extra income. It is much easier to stay organized when there is less 'stuff' everywhere. Use storage bins for the keepsakes. Get a file cabinet for all your important paperwork. Get individual file boxes for each child and teach them how to use it. Having friends and company over for visits is fine but try not to become the neighborhood hang out. A house full of constant chaos can throw organization to the wind. Make a schedule but try not to over-schedule your life. If you have 10 children and they each have a friend over for a weekend that would be poor scheduling. Take turns having a buddy over for a play day. Prioritize! Establish needs and wants and make sure your children know the difference. Communicate with each other about everything and include the details. No one is a mind reader. It's easier to stay organized when life is less hectic.

#4 DON'T bring all that educational baggage you learned in college as an education major to your homeschool. This is a real pet peeve for me. What you learned in college doesn't necessarily apply to real life parenting. Keep your educational theory to yourself and don't experiment on your own child to see if it works. As an education major you were trained to deal with a class room full of
immature, inexperienced, impressionable strangers. If you have decided to homeschool you need to leave that training at the door and focus on being a patient, nurturing parent who loves their child unconditionally.  You are teaching your child NOT a student. You both live in a home NOT a sterile classroom. I've discovered some of the best homeschooling parents are high school dropouts. They tend to be much more creative and far more open to various methods when teaching their children. Better yet, don't use that educational theory baggage you learned in college in your public school classroom either!

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