“Should we homeschool?” Every time I open Facebook, I see the question, and any time, I have a conversation with moms, I hear it, too?
What should we do about school this year?
I’ll be honest and tell you I have no idea what’s best, but I thought I might be able to offer a little bit of experience and advice for those of you who are considering homeschooling as an option this year.
It can be one overwhelming decision, followed by many more overwhelming ones. First, you have to decide to homeschool then you have to decide HOW to homeschool.
What curriculum should you use? Which method will work best? How can you manage to do it all when you have multiple kids?
I homeschooled our oldest daughter from 3rd grade through 7th, adding our other children in as they came along, and my suggestions are pretty simple.
First, take a deep breath and relax.
I have homeschooled, taught traditional high school classes, taught GED classes and, most recently, taught in a homeschool “school” setting. No matter the setting or system, I always found that some parts of the curriculum just had to go because we simply couldn’t do it all. There were only so many hours in a day.
School activities took time away from class. Students were absent. Weather days kept everyone at home or in the hallways.
And, in the middle of all those things, as a school teacher, I still divided my time between anywhere from 20-35 students at a time, seven times a day.
Why do I say that? Because one of the things I knew going in to homeschooling was the fact that if I could offer my kids a few hours of focused, one-on-one instruction, they would still be receiving more than they would get six hours a day in school.
And they did.
We rarely had to do school all day long to get everything done, and we usually took the whole month of December off and finished the year in April.
Choosing Curriculum & Planning Ahead
By choosing curriculum carefully and planning ahead. I’m not known for planning and much more prone to do things spontaneously, but when it comes to school, I like to map everything out ahead of time so I know what needs to be done by what date, leaving plenty of room to readjust if needed. It works in my classroom as well as it did in our homeschool.
As for curriculum, choosing to use My Father’s World was a key to our homeschooling success. I have four kids so the family learning cycle was a huge reason we chose to use MFW. Teaching one history lesson instead of four was a no-brainer for me. The teacher’s manual includes daily plans that are detailed so it’s perfect for busy parents. I also loved that the curriculum is based on reading so, as kids get older and become more independent, they complete their work more independently, too. If you need to teach multiple ages in your homeschool, I can’t recommend My Father’s World highly enough.
Teaching Textbooks proved to be the best math curriculum for us for the exact same reason. I helped my daughter with her work as needed, but most of her learning was done independently while I taught phonics to the little ones.
What if you are working full-time or from home and really can’t be the one doing all the teaching?
This past year, I taught at the school our kids had been attending, a school that uses the A Beka Master Video program. I had no idea what to expect, but let me tell you, the videos are exceptional because the teachers are exceptional. Yes, there are some who are more “boring” than others, but the teachers I watched with my students every day were some of the best teachers I’ve ever seen. The students learn and review and learn and review and then learn and review some more.
If I were not able to (or even just felt inadequate to) teach my children, I would definitely consider A Beka videos. They can be streamed online, and the curriculum in complete, meaning tests and quizzes are available, making your prep time minimal to none. The program is challenging, as well, so you can be sure your kids are getting a quality education if you follow it.
That’s the key to any of it, really.
The Key is Commitment
Whichever curriculum you choose, the key is to follow it. If you decide to homeschool, you are making a commitment to follow through and do it. Every day will not be perfect, but there are plenty of days when kids in traditional schools do nothing. I happens, and when those days happen in homeschooling, you might just be meeting a much more important goal: spending time with your children.
Will they have enough social interaction?
Do any of us have enough social interaction these days?
No, seriously, one of the biggest concerns people often have about homeschooling is that kids won’t have enough social interaction, and during these times, that concern is even greater. Kids need friends, but we never had trouble finding them when we homeschooled. We were part of a very active homeschool group and a church with a thriving kids’ ministry. In addition, sports and other extra-curricular activities offer opportunities to make friends.
Being homeschooled just means that, often, your best friends are your family, and what is wrong with that?
My Homeschool Recommendations
We are still planning to return to our little school this fall, but if that should change, I will use the following curriculum in our homeschool:
If you are considering homeschooling this year and have any questions, I’d love to hear from you and help you out if I can! If you’re a veteran homeschooler, leave a comment with some sound advice for newbies!
For more information about homeschooling, check out these posts!