“Wow, I could never do that,” say most people when I tell them that I home school my children. Questioning them generally reveals that a lot of parents feel inadequate to home educate. They think that if they don’t have a university degree or if they never took algebra or if they cannot speak a foreign language, then they are ill-equipped to teach these things to their kids.
But home schooling doesn’t require that you actually teach your children everything – as long as you provide the means by which the child learns. As home schooling mom of six Lori Murafka-Orme puts it, “I will admit I’m not able to teach everything… that’s okay. It’s important to recognize your weaknesses and figure out ways around them.” Perhaps you’ve gotten up the courage to take the plunge, remove your children from a conventional school setting and home school them; but you have no clue where to begin.
Following are a few ideas to get you going:
Networking - New home schoolers must network. Visit a support group. To find one, ask at your public library or do a Web search. Join one that fits the needs and personalities of your family. Make friends for yourself and your children. Home schooling mom Christie Clark feels that, especially for the first five years, a support group is a necessity. “The amount of support and encouragement,” she says, “is imperative.”
In addition to the support group, there are several ways for you to find educational opportunities for your children.
Co-ops - For several years, my family hosted a small co-op in our home. Two other families joined us every Friday to study language, science, history and nutrition. All our children were close in age, making the lessons easier to prepare. Each mom taught either what she felt comfortable with or had certain qualifications to teach. We changed classes with each semester. If you cannot find an established co-op, and would like to start your own, I recommend the booklet, The Only Homeschool Co-op Booklet You Need to Start Your Very Own Best Co-op Ever! by home schooling parent Karen Lange.
Bartering - Lorene left an engineering career when she had her first child. She teaches algebra for moms that feel unqualified to do so in exchange for other services. Holly, an accomplished artist, teaches art to home schoolers. Mike hosts a chess club in his home. How do you find these parents willing to share their knowledge with more than their own children? Network – meet people and make your needs (and strengths) known.
Community service - My daughter wanted to learn cake decorating. We found a class at a craft store in a nearby city. She took several classes there and excelled in each one. My son wants to learn photography. Our local Parks and Recreation Department offers just the course. We struggled to learn Spanish together as a family. We were unsure of ourselves and inconsistent. Then we saw an ad in the paper for free Spanish classes offered at a local church. The instructor? A retired Spanish professor wanting to make a difference. We are now well on our way to understanding our Hispanic neighbors.|
Private tutors - Some families hire private tutors for the subjects with which they feel uncomfortable. Murafka-Orme feels that what works best for her family is to pay for services or to participate in co-ops that charge a fee. “This way, everyone is on the same page and knows the expectations being set,” she says. To find tutors, ask older home schooling moms in your support group or call local schools. Many teachers moonlight tutoring and some may recommend their brightest students for the job.
Finally, remember the local library. Library personnel generally keep abreast of community affairs and are always willing to help. When we moved, I first asked at the library. The woman at the desk gave me the phone number of the leader for a local support group. The rest is history.
Online resources to consider
The Homeschool Lounge is a place for home school moms to connect for support, encouragement, fellowship and fun – www.thehomeschoollounge.com
Parent at the Helm was created by veteran home schooling parent Linda Dobson – www.parentatthehelm.com
Freelance writer and home schooling mother, Carol has been teaching her children at home for 18 years. Her blog, www.everythinghomewithcarol.com, offers encouragement for those that are new to home schooling or have been at it for a while.
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