Many of us in this homeschool world are fairly new to the entire homeschool lifestyle. However, modern homeschooling has now been around long enough that some of the earlier U.S. homeschool students are having their own families, and are making the decision to homeschool their own children. After a recent conversation with Brittany Bonner, a homeschooling mom of three who started her homeschool career as a third grader, she was willing to offer advice to those newer to the homeschool life from her long term perspective.
Brittany’s Top 6 Nuggets of Wisdom:
1) Laws. Know the laws in your state, respect them. Know about HSLDA, be a member if you can-this is an investment in protecting what you are doing every day. Know that laws change, keep in mind that they may change around you.
2) Set clear and simple goals. Big broad ones and little basic ones. Examples: “I want homeschooling to bring our family closer together.” “I want my spouse to be involved or responsible for at least one area/subject.” “I want this year’s accomplishment to be that my child learns to…(play independently for set amount of time) (read fluently).” “I want my child to master an instrument over the course of their education at home.” “I want us to find ways to learn outdoors this year.” Etc., ad nauseam
3) Be flexible. Be willing to change what you are doing if you see that it isn’t working for your kid, for that one kid, for your family, or even for you. Maybe your family doesn’t wake up early in the morning. Maybe you don’t have to do every subject all school year-maybe science and history “take turns”. Maybe the curriculum you bought for kid 1 and thought would work for kid 2 is a bust on kid 2. Maybe you plan a 4 day school week because you like long weekends. Maybe you are a single homeschool parent and it looks radically different than the crowd. Roll with it. Keep moving. Keep GROWING.
4) Keep Records. Obviously to the level your state requires. My state doesn’t require me to keep or show any records, but I may move, the laws may change, or something might happen to me and my kids might need to integrate into the school system. Records can help. Whether it looks like lesson plans, grades, and samples (Good for you!), or more like a portfolio, or even like a bit of scraps stuffed in file folders behind the insurance folder…at minimum its memorabilia, and maximum its an opportunity to protect your family or your child.
5) Maximize the advantages you have as a homeschool family! Take off-season vacations! Direct your child’s study around their passion! Slow down when they need more time, let them advance in a subject if they are driven in it! Check out college credits for high school students! Use your every day as an opportunity to reaffirm the joy of learning! Play Jenga when you are looking at structures and building! Play High Ho Cherry O when learning to count! Give fractions lessons in the kitchen with measuring spoons! Teach how to change a tire on the side of the road! (And take pictures of that if you do because that would be worth seeing!) Don’t lock up learning in a room and close the door on it before dinner.
6) Let your children see you. Let them see you read. Let them see you still learning. Let them see you say, “I don’t know.” Let them see you say you are wrong, let them hear you say you are sorry. Let them see you frustrated. Let them see your embarrassing childhood pictures. Let them see you do something for someone else. It means the world to me that I can say I know my parents. That I can remember them being different than they are now-they have grown! I matured immeasurable when I recognized that my parents have made mistakes, that there are things they aren’t proud of, and that’s okay. Because I will make mistakes, and that’s okay. I trust God, I do my best. <3
Thanks, Brittany, for sharing your thoughts with our community!
If you want to learn more about Brittany’s life, you can check out her Real Homeschool Families post, or you can visit the Real Homeschool Families series to read about her family and other families living their unique homeschool life.
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