Usually, about halfway through the school year, our local homeschooling group gets new members with questions about pulling their child(ren) out from school. This week, in one day our group received 12 questions from new homeschooling parents. There was several more throughout the week, but to receive 12 in 1 day was a new record.
I’ve been seeing more and more new homeschooling parents lately in my other on-line homeschooling groups as well. I can’t say I am shocked really. Our state I-Step scores this year were the lowest in 20 years.
In most cases, the parents pulled their child out from school do to learning issues, bullying, but more and more I am seeing children with anxiety disorders, and I am not talking about high school children either.
I try to answer questions when I can, but honestly I am so busy jumping through college hoops with Sky, there is no way I can answer them all. Most of the parents have no idea where to even start, and are coming from a “school” mindset. Their first question is usually always about curricula. A lot of the parents have little or no money to spend on a big package, they didn’t think they ever would be homeschooling.
I have been homeschooling for quite a while now, what you read here did not happen overnight. I too was once a newbie, terrified of the journey we set out on. I too, had a “school” mindset. I remember asking a parent, that I was lucky enough to meet face to face, about curricula, and lucky for me that mom used Charlotte Mason’s philosophy. She explained how reading, was learning, and how playing was learning. She explained how their children learned how to write, and how you did not need curricula to learn. I am so thankful for her advice. It has saved us big bucks!
I have never used curricula, it can be done, and homeschooling does not need to cost tons of money. So, paying her advice forward, hopefully this post will be helpful to someone.
For starters, we are a low income family (if you couldn’t already tell). Our home is under 1000 square feet. When the girls were little and shared a room, I took one of our bedrooms and made it into a schoolroom.
(Wow, this seems like ages ago.) Papa made everything (including the blocks), besides the dollhouse, that was mine as a child.
Well, guess what I discovered? We were never in our “schoolroom”.
We were in the kitchen,
we were outdoors,
and we were on the couch. Learning can not be contained to one room. So, we made the schoolroom back into a bedroom.
Does our home look like a “normal” home when walking inside? No, but then again we are not a “normal” family. Yes, I have chalkboards hanging on a kitchen wall, and games stacked up on top of our kitchen cabinets. There is a basket next to our kitchen table that contains workbooks, and notebooks, and folders, and you can not walk into a room without running into a bookshelf, or a stack of books, or movies, or video games. We are homeschoolers.
Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on curricula, I built a home library. I spent money on a laptop to get rid of our desktop computer. We purchased tablets for the girls (best investment of the year) to read e-books from the library (Yep, must have a library card) to save space for only our very favorite books (ones that get read over and over again). I purchased games, puzzles, art supplies, or any kind of kit that looks fun.
In order to get e-books, audio books, movies from your library (OverDrive.com), you need internet access. If you have the internet , you have access to a goldmine of free resources, like YouTube.
I love painless learning place mats. They fit perfectly in the corner of our kitchen table, and are laminated to take the abuse they get from constantly being pulled out, or placed over a wet spot where someone had their glass.
(You can see them hanging out in the corner, along with the workbook basket, on the left, and under that is home to our binders. Our kitchen table has bench seating that opens for storage of my cook binder, chalk, glue, pencils, scissors, individual chalkboards, sharpener, painting tablecloth, erasers, or anything that gets used a lot. Under the benches are decorated office copy paper boxes, where the box is spray painted and the lid is covered with material, that contain all our art supplies.)
If you have read here at all, you’ve seen pictures of our history timeline binders in action. I like binders because they hide all our paperwork, they take up less space than a real timeline running across our home, and are much easier to add information you might have forgotten. I was lucky Papa was able to snatch up boxes of binders for free, but Target seems to be the best place to buy binders.
If we have paperwork, that must mean we have a printer. Yes, along with a three hole puncher.
I use my chalkboards everyday. I have white boards, now residing on our refrigerator, but they just don’t look as cool, or pretty hanging on the wall as a chalkboard.
Now, the girls are old enough to know what interests them. They are able to research movies, books, even game consoles that they want, on their own. “Mom, I like these pens best. Mom, can we go to the bookstore? I want to buy the book Twilight. Dad, could you build me a bookshelf in my room?”
This is when the fun really begins. That’s when you can begin to relax, and realize everything will be alright. Honestly, the girls don’t need Papa and me as much anymore. They can cook, ask for directions, walk into a store and buy what they need, and get proper change back. They know how to find information when they need it. They know how to be independent, and that has always been my goal to begin with.
They will learn, we never stop learning. Life is a journey, just like homeschooling.
Give yourself a pat on the back, and take a deep breath. You can do this. It will not be easy, but I promise it will be worth it. Before you know it, you will find yourself where we are. You will find your rhythm, and confidence.
Peace for the journey.