Full-time Homeschooling Thoughts

Here’s sharing my thoughts after getting through the first week of full-time homeschooling with my 7th grader. Also, here’s offering a few tips I gathered along the way as an integral part of my brood’s school journey.

When things get tough and rough, don’t give up just yet. Instead, regroup and make sure you partner with an institution that offers a great parent support system and has education specialists who are always available to lend you not only the academic support but also the emotional lift that you and your student will need along the way. You will especially require both if you’re new to homeschooling. Find a partner school that has established mental health mechanism or counseling team. My family’s blessed to have the progressively growing charter school to accompany us on this journey.

My 7th-grader and I were a bit nervous starting on this new journey, but seeing the energy in the homeschool team of Springs when we attended the annual homeschool kick-off conference, we knew it’s going to be another spectacular year of wonderful learning.

My family has had a great experience with our charter school, Springs Charter School. The teachers and the administrative leadership and staff in the Murrieta Student Center became our community and family. If you’re conflicted or nervous about homeschooling, try a blended program first. The blended Montessori Academy experience of classroom instruction and homeschool we had over the many years among my four children, two of whom are already in college and the oldest is graduating in April 2019, have provided my 7th grader and I the effective strategic tools and confidence that we are now utilizing in our full-time homeschooling efforts.

And here’s another highly essential point and tip numero uno when you decide the homeschool route: don’t draw your strength and personal inspiration from someone’s generalities. It may be tempting to do so especially if you and your student are a little lost on how best to navigate your new world of learning. Don’t fall for it. Their story may or may not connect to your journey. Just the same the latter remains yours alone. Instead, find the right blend and harmony to yours and your student’s voice and build upon it. It’s imperative to your success and to your sanity (and your kid’s) that you make it your goal to Create Your Own Story.

Why have you decided to homeschool? Is it just a preference? A need? An experiment? A curiosity? A philosophical or religious decision? Do you see it as a means or the goal of education? Can you do this? Can your student do this? Is this right for you?

If you’re new to homeschooling, the first thing you have to do before you even start assembling your lesson plan is to gather up your applicable specifics and transform those into an affirmation that you can stand on. Here’s mine:

Having been raised by a public school teacher, having a background in the academic setting, having received an excellent training and experience in organizational management, having experienced the challenges of frequent geographical relocations while still a part of the military community, having learned from a few failed homeschool strategies, and being openly receptive to opportunities and resources for effective homeschooling are responsible for shaping and evolving my homeschool principles, philosophies, paradigm, and strategies.

This year is the first year that I am doing full-time homeschooling, although I should say that the ”full-time” reference may not be an accurate description. Aren’t parents involved with their children’s education all the time anyway?

My adventure with my 7th-grader to full-time homeschooling began last week, August 27! Although last week was a fruitful start of the academic year for us, we’re still adjusting a little bit and still experimenting on a few things. For the first week of September, Caly and I have decided to devote a good portion of her academic learning to assessment tests. Performance Diagnostic tests are a valuable tool in SMART goal setting and lesson planning.

I’m far from being a superwoman. I’m just aware of the importance of having a SMART plan and strategies that also place a level of importance on effective and healthy pacing.

Caly and I have managed to do a two-weeks worth of academic head-start. It didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t something that she’s forced to do. I’ve always given her a wide leeway in terms of time management and order of priorities with an exception on Language Arts (particularly reading and writing) and Mathematics. Those two subjects are on the non-negotiable list. We are also cleverly creative, practical, and holistic in our learning approach. And since we’re ahead of the schedule, for now, the pressure is low and the opportunities for the enjoyment of the process is high.

Based on my homeschooling experience and what I have been learning through the years of acting as my children’s educational COO, I wrote down eight guidelines.

Guide to Developing Homeschool Strategies:

1. You can’t teach your student everything, so don’t even try. You are only creating a stressful learning environment for your student and your family if you think pouring in more knowledge is better for the child.

2. Keep things simple. Create SMART goals.

3. Encourage passion. Your student’s passion is linked to her uniqueness and not to your idea of success and happiness.

4. The goal is to develop a love of learning. When your student is deeply in love with learning, you will see a motivation turning into goals, and goals into successes. Let her love of learning be the driving force of your child’s education instead of achievement.

5. Help your student develop critical thinking skills. Again, the goal is to help her develop a love of learning that’ll encourage her to become an independent learner. Your goal as a homeschool educator is to provide and allow opportunities for learning and not to dictate, impart or manipulate knowledge.

6. How would you define a successful day, week, semester, or year of homeschooling? Understand that success is not only multi-dimensional, it is also NOT a one-way path. So if your only idea of academic success is valedictorian standards, college education, or a narrow view and application of faith-based education, you’re in for a rude awakening. A speaker from Spring’s Charter School recent annual homeschool event says this, ”If success is a one-way path then we’re fighting for a spot that not everyone can fill.”

Here’s a video link of Ken Robinson’s lecture that will help revolutionize the perception of what education should look like for our children, https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms/discussion.

7. Doing something productive together all the time doesn’t mean there’s productivity or progress. Make space in your calendar for doing nothing or exploring something unimportant. And here’s a paradigm that’s worth shifting to: Some failures are successes in the making. What you conclude as a disaster may actually be the best opportunity for you to learn new and better things and start fresh.

8. There’s no one-size-fits-all methodology. Hence, never compare your homeschooling with that of another. Doing so will rob you of peace, joy, and wisdom.

If you’re a fellow homeschooler, enjoy the journey!

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