Sunday, September 13, 2015

How to ACTUALLY START homeschooling, like actually.

     I have had so much positive feedback from my two latest posts on Dear New Homeschool Mom and How to choose curriculum but that has led to an overwhelming amount of people contacting me and saying "But HOW do you ACTUALLY start"?!?!?!  Here is my attempt to guide you.  Take what you like, ditch the rest, I won't be offended.

      As a Homeschool Mom I will:

  • Start slow and ease into things.
  • I will not overwhelm myself or my children by not adhering to the first thing.
  • Keep everything simple.  From curric to storage, take the path of least resistance.
  • I will keep realistic expectation of myself and my children.
  • I will not call myself or my children a failure if things do not go quite right.
  • I will remember that reading/writing/and comprehension are 3 SEPARATE things and do not need to be learned together.
  • I don't need to be good at math, there are computer programs for that.
  • Some days/weeks/months will be really hard and others will be really great.
  • I might have to back off from school and deal with "heart issues" from time to time.
  • Homeschooling should not look or feel like "public school at home"
  • Make any changes in your schedule, wake up time, chore chart, ect. a week before hand.  Get those kinks worked out BEFORE school starts.
Each child has a "school box".  They fit 2 to a
 shelf on my Ikea book shelf.  Each childs box
holds their specific books.
ORSH curric goes on one of "my" shelves.

  • Are you legal?  Have you researched the laws in your state?  Have you done what you need to do in order to be legal?  Make sure this side of things is good to go!  If you need to fill out a "declaration of intent" (or any similar form) to turn into the state, make 3 copies, sign them all.  Turn one into the state, one goes in your file box and one in your car.  (the last one is less about "proving your children are not truant" and more about "having documentation" in order to get the teachers discount at places like Barnes and Nobles and Joanns =)
  • If you do not legally need to register with the state OR IF you do not need to register a child until they are a certain age/grade (e.g. in WA you do not need to do anything until your child's 8th birthday)  Print off a piece of paper that states you are homeschooling and under what law/code exempts you from having to notify anyone.  Print, sign and place in your file box)
  • All Tablets ready!.

  • If you have any computer programs you are using, Make sure they are loaded on your computer, your kids have their discs and passwords.  Bookmark online programs and write down a master list of websites and programs and put in a handy spot... like on the wall above the computers ;)
  • Get all your curric into a specified place.  Mine are on my ikea bookshelf.  I have a spot for all my "One Room SchoolHouse" stuff and then each child also has their own "school box" for individual work.  For us, that is math books or cd's, LA books, Handwriting books, Spelling Books, Math multiplication grids (older kids), Geography (highschoolers), personal bible studies if not doing group stuff, and general work binders.
    Bought these at BIG LOTS
    they are the PERFECT size!
  • If you have ordered A LOT of curriculum/subjects.  Pare it down for an easy start.  I like starting with our wonderful Language arts books from Queens (so awesome!  One lesson for each day of the school year and no teachers manual needed!) and math.  Within the first week you can add the rest of your LA stuff if you have extras.  We add in handwriting (K-junior high) and spelling (3rd/4th grade on up). Get into that groove, then add in, say, science the next week and then history.  Keep adding in your subjects.  If you feel like you have reached a doable limit but still "have more" consider chucking the rest or saving it for summer.  Another thought is to make a "one year" program into a "two year" program in order to lesson the load
    I hate running out of supplies
    when they are needed.  This
    really helps make sure things
    run smoothly!
  • If you have something that requires "supplies", like, say, science, go through the book, get a tote and fill it with all the supplies you need.  This way you have them ready when you hot that lesson.  Put the tote in a closet where kids can not reach and take down when needed =)
    When I had toddlers in the
    home, I always had totes
    with lids =)
  • Make sure you craft and school supplies are in order.  Crayons, glue sticks, scissors, pencils, colored pencils.  Label things with words(not pictures silly- get the little kids used to WORDS) to make things super easy.


     This is the hard part because your schedule will morph and change through the years.

     Lots of school age kids already:  If you already have older children I would suggest checking out my Block Scheduling/4 day work weeks.  This is what works for me with my 10 kiddos!

     If you are just starting school (ever) with say a kindy or first grader.  I suggest the following.  First read this on 3 hour limits and this on schooling when they are ready... you may also need or want to check out this one on schooling with babies and toddlers in the home.   Next, consider these things:
3 kids "playing" Stratego

  • Do school when its convenient for your family:  If you have younger kids, you may want to save school time for when they are taking a nap.
  • Make sure your house is ready for it.  Pick up and get ready for the day, this way you are not trying to function in a mess.
  • Break it up during the day:  Your 30 minutes of "reading" may be during bath time.  Or 20 min of math while you make lunch.
  • Be willing to "call it" if it's not working.
IF you do HAVE TO HAVE a schedule to look at, pick a 2 or 3 hour block of time that is normally peaceful in your home.  let's say:

  • 8-8:15/30 LA (phonics/book work/reading/handwriting)
  • 10-20 min break because you can.
  • 8:50-9:05/20 MATH. 
  • 10-20 min break... because, again, you can (use these breaks to tend littles, flip laundry ect)  If you are a "snack time" family, this is a good spot for that too =)
  • 10-11 SCI/HIS.  Read some books, watch a video, take a walk.  Honestly, I do not stress these areas until MUCH OLDER.  My little kids do them because my older kids do.  I love Queen's Sci curric because they are enjoyable and doable across multiple ages, they are so great that I would even do them if I did not have older kids.  With History I still would not do anything formal until they were 4th ish grades if I did not have big kids in my home.  Teaching "ORSH" make it so that I teach from the top down.  The younger kids do things with us but when it gets "long" I let them go play.
  • 11-12/LUNCH and you are done.  If you did not get to anything earlier you can do it after lunch.  Or save the whole routine for when littles are down for naps.

Some days are just going to suck.  There is no better way of saying that.  BUT DON"T FREAK OUT!!  "Mama said there'd be days like this" and she was right!  Sometimes those days become weeks or months.  Get through whatever is going on in your life and then reset and start again.

What about starting when your child is behind???
     Behind what?  I know it's hard when they are "behind" but that really is subjective depending on who you are comparing them to.  If you or your child are discouraged by being "behind" I would suggest a few things.

A10 with his Spelling Workout

  1. Pick out curriculum that is more subjective and doesn't use grades.  Another reason I love Queens.  It's all by progressive levels and not grades.  You can use them for EVERYTHING except math.  Progressive curriculum is encouraging for you and for your child.  In spelling I love "Modern Curriculum Presses "Spelling Workout""  They go by "letters" and not grades. Queen's, Mystery of History and Story of the world are all great for history that offers "levels" within the application and not by grade.  Math is different, it just is.  I like Teaching Textbooks and have found that my kids who were "behind" in math were quickly able to catch up and move ahead using this program and Khan Academy. Another curriculum I am LOVING is the "do it yourself homeschool journals".  These are especially good for new learners that should not be bogged down and for older kids to keep the love of learning going! 
  2. Look at your childs learning over the scope of allllllll the grades they have left and not just "this year".  If they are "not good" in math then they prolly won't want or need to go beyond algebra so if it takes them from 6th grade-12th grade to pass algebra- who cares?  If your child really struggles with LA then hone in on making sure they have the basic skills and can navigate Language arts (reading/writing) capably but don't stress if they only produce one or two good essays a year in highschool.
  3. It's okay to acknowledge that not all kids are going to be "college" material AND that college isn't worth what it use to be.  There are also trade schools, certificates and general jobs out there.  Many, Many, Many of these pay really well- more than many college degrees!  Be realistic at what your childs academic and personality potential is.  Don't push them to be who they aren't, instead helped them to be "the best version of themselves".
  4. taking time out for a bike ride
  5. Don't let "being behind" discourage you from the get go.  This will not be good for any of you.  Instead look at it as what it is, the CHANCE to iron things out, let your child learn in their best environment and to move forward at their pace.
Alrighty folks!  If I think of anything else to add I will but for now ;) That's all I got!

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