Monday, August 30, 2010

Dos and Don'ts for a successful homeschool experience #8

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.

#8 DO become an advocate for homeschooling and unschooling. As a parent you will always be your child's best advocate. This includes advocating for your child whether they participate in group sports, family activities, clubs, summer camp, relationships and even at the doctor's office. In order to become a strong homeschooling parent who is able to provide the environment and opportunities where your child can learn in freedom, you need to know as much about homeschooling as you can. Read books on the subject. Talk with veteran homeschoolers. Learn the homeschooling laws in ALL the states because our borders are not invisible when dealing with school officials and the laws vary from one extreme to the other in each state. This way you can inform friends and family members, including those out of state, about your rights and possibly their rights too. It may dawn on them that they too have unalienable rights as parents and they too need to become stronger advocates for their own children. The more people you empower around you the easier it will be for you to homeschool in peace. The more you know about homeschooling, its history, its benefits and its outcome the stronger an advocate you'll become, not only for your child but for your constitutional rights as well.

#8 DON'T hang out with other people who are not like-minded about child rearing and homeschooling. It is never a good thing to waste time arguing, pleading or trying to convince the naysayers that your decision to homeschool was made with the best intentions and you are determined to see it through. Find others who support that decision and actively help you accomplish your homeschooling goals. Even if close family members, at the very least, are not willing to encourage you then it may be time to put some distance between you and them. Family members cannot be expected to praise your efforts when many times even the parent will not see the fruits of their homeschooling labor until their child is older and shows noticeable progress. We discovered a great way to gauge whether our homeschooling journey was succeeding or not was to visit grandma's house when all the cousins came to visit. Our children stood out with better manners, the ability to talk in depth with the various generations about more meaningful subjects, and their presence was by far more calm than their schooled cousins. You don't need an organized support group but what you do need is just a few friends and family members who actively engage in your homeschooling endeavors with encouragement or hands-on participation. Remember, it works both ways so if grandma wants to be a part of your homeschool success story then let her bring her expertise and experience to the mix. She'll be happy to pass on her information and your child will bridge the generation gap with a new found interest and respect for a beloved grandmother.

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