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Homeschooling--Finding Your Way


by Katriena Knights

As homeschooling has become more and more popular, resources have become readily available. From online sites dedicated to getting you started and helping you fill out your curriculum to brick and mortar stores specializing in homeschool course books and other supplies, homeschooling information and resources have gone mainstream.

Getting Started

If you're new to homeschooling, this deluge of information can be overwhelming. The best place to start, though, is with your kids.

Whether you follow a traditional course of study, jump straight into unschooling, or follow a path somewhere in between, the most important element to focus on is how your kids react. If your kids aren't having fun, they're not going to learn as well, and if you're not enjoying your kids, then the most rewarding elements of schooling them will prove elusive.

It's okay to try more than one approach, especially in the beginning. If one curriculum doesn't click with your kids, try something else. If structured learning bores you and your children, try some unschooling, letting the needs of everyday activities bring the lessons to you. Or mix it up--use a structured approach on some subjects and a looser approach with others. You'll find the right mix when you realize your children are enjoying what they're doing, and still absorbing the knowledge you want them to have.

Some places to find helpful advice and information on getting started:

Homeschooling at About.com

Homeschooling Central

Home Education Magazine

Building a Program

Start with the basics--your core subjects. There are the three Rs, of course--reading, writing and arithmetic--and then science, social studies, and history. Some homeschool programs weave all these subjects together, such as in a literature-based program, where children's literature is used to teach all elements of the curriculum. Other programs separate the subjects in a more traditional manner, and still others use a combination of techniques.

Once you've found an approach that works for both you and your children, search out materials and techniques that will support your teaching techniques and your kids' learning styles.

Remember to think outside the box whenever possible--that's half the fun, as well as the advantage, of homeschooling. Look for more than just worksheets. Field trips, projects, arts and crafts, cooking--all these can be used as learning tools.

Examples of resources for specific lessons:

Focused on unit studies

Provides a variety of resources from lesson plans to daily planners to links to freeware.

Lists and reviews of various resources from Home Education Magazine.

These links are only a very limited example of what's available to help homeschoolers put together individual lesson plans. Even more ideas, resources and information can be found at your favorite bookstore or local library.

Beyond the Basics

In addition to the basic core subjects, your kids might want to explore extracurricular subjects such as music, foreign languages, computer programming, art, or any number of specific interests. One of the advantages of homeschooling is that you can give yourself and your kids the time and the freedom to explore anything that sparks their imagination. With this kind of experimentation, your kids could find lifelong hobbies or even develop skills that could lead to a fulfilling career.

Specialized skills such as these might move beyond what you feel comfortable teaching your kids on your own. Private teachers can help greatly in helping your kids develop specialized skills, especially once they've found areas they really love. Don't feel like you have to do all the teaching on your own. Some homeschool groups organize classes with experts, and in some states homeschool kids can sign up for specific classes at public school. A little research online or at your local library can help you discover your options. The possibilities are practically endless.

When you decide to homeschool your kids, you open up a brand new world of teaching, learning, and the gift of time spent with your children. It's a wonderful adventure--take the time to enjoy every minute of it.

Categories: School-Age, Tweens, Children,

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