How to Homeschool, Beginner and Beyond

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As an educating mom for over 25 years, I have the unique position of being both parent and teacher, simultaneously. This affords me with the privileged position of knowing my children as life-long learners in a grace-filled and intimate way. I am unlike any teacher they have had or would ever encounter in the future!

I also have the added advantage that, as a “Parent-Teacher,” I have the opportunity to sanctify our daily moments, in a most extraordinary way.

Write this down and repeat it:

My ultimate “professional training” to become my children’s primary educator comes directly from the grace of “YES” to marriage and “YES” to children.

I can do this!!

Since we are gifted abundantly with God’s grace, we can do this homeschooling thing! Yes!

However, grace builds on nature. Therefore you need to form habits accordingly, to be ready to receive and continue to grow in this life work.

For it is our life’s work.

When we say YES to home education, we say YES to becoming educators!

Photo by Ekrulila from Pexels

But maybe I am not qualified to teach my kids?

Not true!

Let’s begin with the truth. As a homeschool parent, you do not need to go to college to be trained and certified in an accredited education department. You also do not need to have gone to college. True!

Teachers are trained for classroom management. You are not leading a classroom. This homeschool thing is very different, and in a good way different!

If you have been trying to teach from home using the materials sent from your child’s school during the lockdown, you may have been feeling frustrated, lost, and unsure if you can homeschool.

The reality is that even with Zoom calls from the teacher, the lesson plans and assignments were designed for classroom use, not the home!

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What is the “Parent-Teacher” to do?

A parent who teaches at home differs from the classroom teacher in most cases. To begin with, the “parent-teacher” usually has only one student per grade, and teaches multiple grades, all at once! Yipes!!

I like to think of this akin to the old “one room school room” scenario.

So right out the gate, we are hit with a challenge few classroom teachers encounter, to develop curriculum strategies, and plans for each child, and for every subject. This is tough, and proves overwhelming. After all, there are just so many hours in the day, there is still laundry to do, and dinner to make.

How then?

Start small and simple! In this first year, you need to fuel the foundation that God’s graces will build upon.

This is where TRUST comes in. Do Less! Skip subjects and pare down!

It is far more beneficial to your child, and to you, to do few things well, rather than trying to be all things and end in frustration, burnout, and overwhelm.

Photo by Ekrulila from Pexels

How do you choose curriculum, what to do, with whom, and when?

It is important to stop here a moment, and know that majority of the home education curriculum products currently available are really designed for classroom use.

Even packaged programs have simply been adapted from the classroom model, and modified slightly for home use. Most often, such products are designed with the assumption that a teacher, formally trained in the subject, is to teach the curriculum.

This is one of the biggest frustrations I hear about from new and experienced moms.

AND while lesson plans may seem like a logical place to start, use them only as a road map which gives you the overview of the trip. Every year that you homeschool, especially this first year, needs to be about discovery! Use lesson plans for the general direction, but be certain to give time each week to the worthwhile little side trips.

The most memorable moments generally come from the times you stop to take notice of the scenery or, in particular, your blossoming child. By doing so you are learning all about them, and in turn they are learning your heart too!

Real Learning, Made Simple

If education for your child is all about checking off tasks, then it is just way too easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated, and worse, feel like a failure!

In my vast 25+ years of experience with my children, and consulting with hundreds of families, the truth is that real, lasting learning happens when we have developed a long range goal, respect the age, and ability of each individual child, move at their pace, and adapt our teaching style to meet that child’s learning style.

Let me say again, real learning only happens when we look at:

  • the long range goal for each child (will be different for each)
  • respect their age and emotional maturity
  • the particular gifts and strengths of each child
  • move at their pace (not what the “world” says)
  • adapt our teaching style to match the child’s learning style

Whew!

That takes TIME and TRUST in the process of discovery!

Just as we want to provide an education that teaches the child “how to fish” and not just hand him the fish, we need to recognize our need to learn “how to teach” so that we, too, become the “parent-teacher” we are called to be.

Start Here!

So instead, BEFORE you do anything, like buy curriculum, or research educational philosophies, pause, pour a cup of coffee or tea, and write down your “WHY.”

Here is a helpful prompt sheet I have often shared with the homeschooling families I coach. Download it now! And take out a pretty pen and write! The act of writing alone brings clarity and peace!!!

Then write out just ONE Goal per child for this year!

YES, I said just one. I wrote another post, called Homeschool Success, on the reason for doing this, works like a charm to keep you focused and making daily progress! Go ahead and read it too!

The next step is to print off my planning grids in my handy Get Ready Planning Guide, which are basic general road maps for the three basic groups of ages! I include approximate times a week and time per day for each. Jot down some ideas, but highlight the section that pertains to the ONE GOAL for each child.

Meet other homeschooling families

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If you are brand new to home education, please begin by seeking other home educating families in your area, or groups online like the one I just opened up! We need each other! I could never had made it without those dear moms who took me under their wings that first year!

Ask these families about their journey, and their approach to home education. I can help here too, and connect you to families in your area. My BRAND NEW community called Catholic Homeschool Community, is a safe place where we can travel this year together with fellow newbies and helpful veterans! Join us this year!

It is  so vital to have a connection to other families, to share in prayer, and support for this new adventure you about to embark upon. Many places have support groups locally, that meet regularly for Mass and fellowship (may be hard to find this year!) Try to meet some of these families to find friends that mesh with your family’s goal for education! (By the way, the new Catholic Homeschool Community can help you find local families too!)

The moms I met in my first year have continued to be my very best friends for LIFE, they are dear soul sisters in Christ whom I cherish! AND their children in turn became our children’s best friends too!

Find out about regulations for homeschooling in your area

A great place to locate this kind of information is Home School Legal Defense…here is the link: http://www.hslda.org/laws or call your local Department of Education and ask about the regulations for homeschooling. Local support groups can also point you in the right direction. If you have trouble getting help…please feel free to call us and we can find you contacts in your area.

Keep it simple…

Take time to review each week’s lessons and gather materials. Just a few hours once a week is well worth it! It cuts the edge off any undue stress of not being prepared for the week.

In addition, you can take advantage of wonderful, helpful options, such as local classes, on-line classes (we especially love using Homeschool Connections) and co-ops. Look into these as options to help, not as distractions from the time you need to be at home teaching your children.

Learn from your mistakes and don’t try to be too organized. Give your family and yourself time to adjust to this new rhythm of life. Each year, we always find a new schedule is needed as the children’s needs change each and every year as do the family dynamics. We usually take at least a month or two to iron out each new school year schedule!

If you must read about homeschooling, start small…

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In conjunction with meeting other home educating families, begin small with some minor cursory reading and research on methodology of education. I beg you please, do not get bogged down, or overwhelmed by the choices. Undoubtedly one of them will speak to your heart as the best match for your family, just not now! Take your time!

I can recommend reading Laura Berquist’s book, Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum, where she outlines a road map for a Catholic Classical curriculum. Pay attention in particular to her rich literature emphasis. Also read Maureen Wittmann’s For the Love of Literature, a treasure trove of annotated recommendations for a literature-rich curriculum (with many of the books we love).

Are you seeing the trend here…make time to have your children, and you READ, READ, READ this year as the foundation to a life-long love of reading.

Most importantly, enjoy your children and pray together often, the time together will be well spent. The choice to homeschool ultimately brings the family closer together, and passes on the parent’s values and beliefs, in a way no other type of education can afford.

Here is the link to join the community!

You will be in my daily prayers!

Keep in touch and let me know how you are doing!

Get updates for the next post!

1 Comment

  1. Katie Westen

    I have been Homeschooling my 8 children for 14 years. My eldest is 15 ,and youngest is 6.
    Paola, thankyou for your blog and involvement with the Catholic Homeschool Conference. My only sadness is that, I did not have these amazing, affirming resources years ago. I feel more prepared mentally for this great adventure with my children this year, than I have ever been. The responsibility is great, and I’m still not totally ready for school to start, but with His grace and my small fiat, we will be blessed.

    Reply

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