Ideas For Beginners
- Read as many books as you can on home schooling, how children learn, and education. This is very important for new home schoolers. You will glean ideas from others that you can use in your own home. Research home education and why it is different than conventional schooling.
- Subscribe to newsletters. I highly recommend the UHEA newsletter to anyone who is seriously considering home schooling. Newsletters will be your lifeline. They offer current educational information just for home schoolers and keep you up-to-date on activities, meetings and legal issues. See the enclosed order form with this packet.
- Inform you family members of your decision by mail. This will give them time to think about your decision. You may want to enclose copies of articles found in this UHEA Information Packet. An excellent public relations tool for family, friends, church members and neighbors is the UHEA video, Home School: Another Choice.
- Conventions are tremendously helpful and important for new or investigating home schoolers. At conventions you will find a wealth of information presented by parents specifically geared towards home school families. Information obtained at conventions is very difficult to gather on your own. Call or write the UHEA and make sure your name is on the mailing list.
- Call your local UHEA District Leader and ask about local meetings. Attending local UHEA support group meetings and activities will give you an opportunity to meet other home schooling families. Many questions and concerns can be answered as well.
- Commit to home school for at least one year. It requires total commitment and some lifestyle changes to be successful, but is well worth the effort! Your first year will be the most difficult. It will be overwhelming at first, but as the months go by, you will gain confidence and it will be easier for you to visualize what your family needs.
- Write a schedule that allows flexibility. Avoid rigid time slots for subjects. Have input from your children. You will gain more ideas from reading home school books. Successful home school families don't copy the schedules of the public school classroom. You may want to read John Taylor Gatto's book, Dumbing Us Down, the Invisible Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling.
- If you enjoy structure, you can still have structured time and avoid structured learning. Give your children as much agency in their learning as possible within your structured time frame.
- Mom can still have her hobbies and interests! Life would be boring if a person wasn't allowed to develop their talents and interests! While my children read to me, I can knit or crochet. If we are working on spelling lists, I can sit and make manipulatives, games, or crafts. If you like to go walking, take the children with you, or take one or two children at a time and take turns. If you like to sew, involve your children. They can learn how. If you bake bread, make it a family learning time. My children are as autonomous as I allow them. If I have community service things to do, or need to make some important phone calls, or do some planning, they practice their instruments, work on art projects, or read about bugs and things.
- Home schooling does not cost a great deal of money. You can spend as much as you want or as little as you want! Most families use the library as their main resource. By attending conventions you will gather many ideas on how to teach your children at home without going broke.
- Moms need to be by themselves to recharge their batteries. When I've been busy with my children all day, I don't feel guilty leaving them with their father in the evening to pursue my own hobbies and interests. Teachers in conventional schooling get teacher development days, and so do you! If you are craving some quiet time for yourself, schedule time at your library without the children (or any other quiet place). Don't forget the children's father too! Home schooling can become all encompassing - using up every action and thought. It will settle down, and before you know it, it becomes a way of life.
Transition From Public School To Home School
If your children have been in a classroom setting they need time to unwind and unlearn how they learned. Many children who have been taught in a classroom setting expect you to tell them what to do every minute. In a structured classroom setting, the students rarely have any agency in their education. They don't know how to learn on their own.
Home school will be an adjustment for both you and the children. Talk to them about it, read to them some passages from home school books about how other children learn.
The first year is always the hardest. Every year will have its challenges, but it will not be as overwhelming as your first year is.
Children can be as independent as you allow them to be. For children to want to learn on their own doesn't happen overnight if they have been attending real school. To help children who have been entertained and told how to do everything, it helps to have them come up with a list of things to do for themselves. Have them refer to this list when they are bored, or can't decide what to do with themselves.
CHILDREN WILL BE BORED! They don't need to be entertained by you. In fact, it is harmful for their development to be constantly spoon-fed and entertained. In order to discover their talents and interests, they must search within themselves, and they can't do this if they are constantly being bombarded with stimuli.
Avoid the temptation to plug in an electronic game or video to entertain them. There are times when watching videos are helpful and educational, but don't use the TV to eliminate boredom.
Type up a schedule for your children to follow. Allow as much agency as possible. Change the schedule every few months and allow for more flexibility, and every few months gradually wean your children from depending on you so much.
How can a father become involved in their child's education? From our point of view, it is difficult for fathers to become heavily involved in structured teaching situations. From a wife's perspective, I don't assign my husband to teach certain subjects. My husband's most important role, besides being a Father, Husband, and Son, is chief breadwinner. I have never expected him to do any formal teaching. Being a father and taking advantage of the time he is around our children, he automatically answers their questions, or involves them in what he happens to be doing at that moment.
I feel that a husband can provide better support for the "teaching mother" by providing financially for the family, involving the children in his work around the home, talking to the children and sharing informal knowledge (simply answering their many questions will help considerably), and SUPPORTING THEIR WIVES. Karl has been supportive of me since the day we decided to home school. The first thing he did was listen to me read him bits and pieces of home school books, educational books, how children learn books, etc. He learned right along with me, whether he wanted to or not! Actually, he wanted to learn everything he could about home school. He attended conventions with me, and for the first few years, we could only afford to attend every other year. He came to seminars, support group meetings, and met with other home schoolers. Because of his involvement in my interests, they were his, too. Other fathers lend their support to their wives by tending the children while the wife attends support group meetings. This is something parents must discuss, then do that with which they feel comfortable.
Fathers need to understand how children learn and not require a certain amount of work sheets and textbook learning to be done every day. The best father is supportive of the child's mother, and shows support by providing inspirational insight, prayers, reading and attending some meetings, and being a partner rather than a boss. He will continue to date his wife, too.
The happiest home school families I've seen are the ones where the father is interested in is children's activities and projects, and is supportive rather than critical of his wife. Husbands need to be involved in a way that best suits the needs of the family. After all, parenthood is a partnership!
- Although some families choose not to have anything at all to do with the public school system, others use the public schools as a resource. Textbooks, paper supplies, and other resources can be available by contacting the principal. Some principals bend over backwards to help home school families. Others would like to avoid them. It is not a requirement on the part of the principal to help home school families. Some will, some won't. But if you would like to use school materials, contact the principal to set an appointment to discuss your needs.
- Students may attend public schools part-time. Many home school families enroll their children in junior high or high school classes such as orchestra, band, chemistry, language, algebra, etc.
- Sign your children up for community education classes to supplement your home school.
- Local private schools and businesses offer classes. Computer stores generally teach classes, or know someone who does, on a variety of computer topics.
- Tutors can be hired for subjects you find hard to deal with. Even top-notch high school students can make good tutors and aren't as expensive as college or community tutors.
- Parent Education Resource Centers (PERC) offer a wide variety of games and educational tools, curriculum and helps that you can check out free of charge. To find out if there is a PERC near you, contact your local library.
- School districts have textbook dumps, a place where textbooks go that aren't used anymore. Many home school families know of where these places are. Contact your district leader, or inquire at your support group meetings for more information.
- Older children may wish to use a correspondence course. They are quite structured and expensive but they fill the needs of some families. For more information, see The Home School Resource by Karl and Betty Pearson, Teach Your Own by John Holt, or Home School Burnout by Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore (see your local library, or purchase from private educational suppliers).
- Your public library is the best and least expensive resource! If your local library is small or doesn't have home school books, you may want to seriously consider paying a fee to use a larger library in your area. It will be well worth the fee you pay. Many home schoolers purchase only a math textbook and use the libraries as their main curriculum source. Classes taught at conventions show you how this is done.
- 4-H offers many individual projects and educational materials. Your local Scouting office has great educational resources, and County Extension agencies and offices offer classes and educational books and pamphlets which are great resources.