Here’s what you might be doing, as an adult learner, tackling the new subject called, Homeschooling 101. You have spent time thinking about your educational options and have landed on homeschooling even though your understanding is limited. Now what?
1. You begin to talk to others in your close circles about your decision and see if there is any direct knowledge on the subject from people you know well. You let go of some of the stereotypes or preconceived ideas you have and open your mind to really understand what it’s all about. You wonder if you can still homeschool even though you don’t have child prodigies nor does your family look like you all walked off an off–the-grid farm. You’re just a regular mom with average kids. With not many good educational options.
2. You go to your friend Google and begin rudimentary searches. “How to homeschool”, “Best homeschool curriculum”, and “Can I homeschool in VA?”. You read and start noting similarities and differences in the advice you’re receiving. You check out a couple books from the library, download the free guides. You listen to podcasts, watch the webinars, all the while taking notes of things you hear that make you think. You sign up for the email list. You screenshot the quotes that inspire you. You join the Facebook groups and pages and read all the questions and answer threads that others have posted. It’s all so much information, but you dig through it because you want to learn.
You can’t begin to learn a new topic until you’ve learned the new vocabulary of that field. So you make notes of new terms that you’ve never heard before (What’s unschooling? Who’s Charlotte Mason? What is a lap book?). You become more comfortable using those words. I love the idea of a unit-study approach for science.
3. Once you’ve gathered all the basic information from a variety of sources, you begin to think of how all this information applies to your life and to your kids. You let all of it process in your brain and think about all this new information. Sit and simmer.
4. You find people who are homeschooling or who have been homeschooled and begin asking them questions about what you have read and learned.*** You ask about their experiences and hear their perspectives. You take notes and take pictures of curriculum they show you. You breathe a sigh of relief when you realize you don’t have to know it all yet. Even regular folks with no college degree have figured it out and their kids have turned out okay! And you realize that homeschool families vary widely from each other and there is no one stereotype they all fall into. You start to see what homeschooling could really look like for your family. The pieces start to come together in your head.
5. You spend some more time beginning to make a plan for your homeschool based on your beginner’s knowledge. You decide what curriculum you want to use and what your goals are for your kids. You make lists, spreadsheets, write post-it notes, make bookmarks on your web browser. You wonder if you’ve planned and prepared enough.
6. You jump in.
This is like your internship. It’s time to take the knowledge you have and put it into practice. You know you won’t get it all right because an internship is when you’re supposed to learn on the job. You continue to learn, study, and talk to others after you have jumped in. You ask better questions now that you’re in it. Ah, that’s what they meant about being flexible.
7. Now you have gained a good amount of experience though trial and error in your own family. You’re doing the work. You begin to form your own opinions and philosophy about how you do home education. You find yourself sharing your experiences and resources with others in your circle. You encourage new homeschoolers with what you have learned in the process.
8. You become confident in your knowledge to execute your new job. Even though though there is still much to learn, you’re not as scared. But because you’re passionate about this new subject, you are always open to learning more. You enjoy talking to others who are homeschooling to see how they are doing it. When you come up against a challenge, you go back to Step 3. You grow your connections so that you can share more resources and make your home education that much more profitable and enjoyable for you and your kids.
This is the same basic process you are asking your kids to do, especially your older, more independent learners.
You’re asking your kids to research, think, gather information, take notes, and make conclusions about whatever topic they’re studying. The learning process includes reading, listening, watching, talking to others who have more knowledge. They will learn to ask good questions and sift through answers. Then they go “do” whatever is involved in that field of study. If they get really into their field of study, they develop deeper knowledge and begin to share what they know with others.
So Mom (and Dad!), your steps of learning about homeschooling is going to help you guide your kids through that same process. If you can learn and do things you’ve never done before, so can your kids. Fill them in with where you are in this process. As you model these steps of independent learning, your kids will have a great example as they jump into whatever new topics they will be studying, you’ll relate to them when they feel overwhelmed and underqualified or just confused. You’ll remind them if they are determined to learn something, they can learn it. You will help them find the resources and ask the right questions.
I also know that for many of you, this process has been pretty much a summer crash course. And we all know that it’s hard to retain information from a summer crash course. But, it’s better than nothing. If you go through the first few steps quickly, that’s okay. Even after you officially start homeschooling, you can always go back and catch up on any information you missed or forget. That’s life.
This is home education, where everyone can be a learner, even the teacher 🙂 Especially the teacher.
*** Note, it’s best to hold off asking basic questions of real people until you’ve done some rudimentary research. If you know the very basics of a topic, you will be able to ask better questions, get better answers, and be more efficient with the time of others who do have the knowledge you need. I love helping people who have already done their homework and begun studying. It makes the conversation so much easier and more beneficial for both parties!