3 Tips to Homeschool Better

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Homeschooling my daughter reminds me a lot of the early months of parenting where I had not a clue what I was doing.

A lot of people ask me about homeschooling as I'm still fairly new on this journey with my daughter. But, I can say that it reminds me most of my early months and years as a new mother. Remember that time when you were still trying to figure out what worked and you weren't caught up in a routine, so everything really was learned trial by error? Remember those times you grabbed a nap when your baby was sleeping so you could have those small precious moments to regroup because everything seemed to be going so fast? Well, that's how this journey has started out. It has been a whirlwind.

And, it hasn't stopped.

But, there were a myriad of reasons that I chose to homeschool, and giving up on homeschooling isn't an option merely because it is a challenge or it isn't convenient. I started this because I believe it is in my daughter's best interest.

For starters, it's important to understand that people homeschool for different reasons. Mine weren't because my daughter wasn't doing "well" in school. In fact, my daughter was tested as being "talented and gifted" when she was in public school. She made good grades throughout (though, honestly, she had started to check out the last year when she knew I was going to be homeschooling her the following Fall). But, despite being identified as being gifted, what that meant in her school was more rote work. She was sent home every day with more homework than my college students receive for month-long projects. If she was getting out of school at 3pm, after getting home an hour later, then she wasn't finishing homework until around 6 or 7pm which left dinner and then time to go to sleep. Homework was cutting into our family life. That meant, no extra-curricular activities, no family field trips after school, etc. And, this was taking its toll on my daughter's interest in school. Learning  wasn't as fun as it was in the early grades. It was becoming a chore.

And, that's what I was having a problem with. I think learning can and should be fun moreso than not. I also think that schools needs to take in consideration learning preferences, cultural difference and the cultural experience of the learner.  I began homeschooling because I not only wanted to have a cultural (read: African) focus, but also wanted her to have some flexibility in finding out different ways to learn and learning, most importantly, how to build skills in self-directed learning. I teach college students and I the students who take ownership of their learning process always do better in comparison to other students.

Albeit, our journey during the past few months has been bumpy as I've had to build my reserve in patience while balancing a college teaching job and my consultant work with homeschooling. A lot of stuff doesn't get done. But, wow, how I'm amazed with the tons of stuff that does get done.

This homeschooling journey reminds me most of the early days of parenting when I started to discover who my daughter was and learning my role in helping her discover who she is as well. Homeschooling reminds me that that process is ongoing.

So, if you are considering homeschooling for your family, here are some tips I suggest:

(1) Understand that Homeschooling Will Require Flexibility.

You will believe that because you are now responsible for leading the way when it comes to your child's education that you are in "charge" of everything. That is not the reality. In addition to the fact that you will NEED to build your support team, you will also HAVE to step back sometimes and assess who is the best person to be in charge of certain area, and sometimes that won't be you. I determined early that I would not be in "charge" of teaching science to my daughter. However, I would be in charge of finding the appropriate science course(s) for her and support her learning of science by assisting on home labs, making inquiry a part of other subjects so that she was prepared to engage in science classes as a participant, not an observer, etc. Some classes I signed her up for were not good-- and we saw that early on and withdrew. Plan B stepped in. One Plan B, when it came to Spanish,  was that I became the Spanish teacher suddenly after a bad experience at a center we had signed my daughter up for Spanish. And, wow, what fun that has become. I realized I hadn't given myself credit for how capable I am as a Spanish teacher. And, that is what flexibility is. Being open to doing something unexpected. Stepping out or in as necessary.

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