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Beginning the Homeschooling Process

Excerpted from The Homeschooling Almanac 2002-03 by Mary and Michael Leppert.

Copyright 2002, 2010 by Modern Media. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Once you have done whatever soul-searching, planning, and arranging you have to do to decide to homeschool, you are ready to contemplate a new future and tackle the basic elements involved in the process.

Say “Adios” to the “Hi/Good-bye” Life

If your family has been living the rat-race routine of school and work with its “hi/good-bye” level of communication, take some time off and relax! I strongly urge any parent who has just taken a child out of school to spend at least a week or two getting to know each other again before jumping into the academic routine. Throw out schedules and routines as much as possible for a while. (If you can’t live “open-ended,” expand your former schedule to make room for your new freedom!) Re-think your life and time values; find out your child’s values. You have a clean slate and a piece of chalk, so to speak; if you make a “mistake,” erase and write over it! Avoid starting the first week with “schooling.” You might instead go to a good museum at 11:00 a.m. Monday, when it is quiet and virtually empty. Have lunch together out in a world that may be novel to your child. Show him what fun can be had in this newfound, free world of maturity. Let him see that important matters go on “out here.” Go to the library or a large bookstore and let him browse as long as he wants. These experiences may rekindle curiosity in a subject not taught in school, and he may feel the spark of desire for learning! He may find a number of topics to explore that would never be possible in school.

In the ensuing days, take hikes or have picnics; do the things you could not do when you were working and he was in school. Get to know each other well. Enjoy being his parent and help him enjoy being your child. He will soon respond favorably to being treated in a more mature fashion than he was in the school world. If you talk to him with your faith and belief in him showing through, he will rise to your expectations. Give it time, lots of time—maybe even a year. Your day is now determined more by the rising and setting of the sun than by clocks and schedules. You aren’t in the hamster-wheel anymore, so let it sink in . . . and enjoy it!

When Michael quit his day job to work full-time at home, it took us over a year to completely adjust to the fact that he was indeed free from someone else’s time clock—not just between jobs or on a long vacation! His “commute” was from one end of the house to the other. His work uniform was no longer a suit and tie. Although we had always enjoyed each other’s company, we had never been together seven days a week except briefly between jobs. We had to make new room for one another and restructure our time and space boundaries. It took some quarreling and discomfort, but now we love nearly every minute. You and your child will have to do the same sort of re-adjusting and re-thinking your former values and schedules. Your child will have the freedom and responsibility of living with his teacher(s); you will have the duty of knowing when to teach and when to be just Mom or Dad.

Define Your Homeschooling Philosophy

Let us assume that to homeschool in your state, you must simply notify the superintendent of your child’s school that she is leaving and you will be homeschooling. Now, what do you do? You first need to determine what homeschooling philosophy you believe in at this time. Unlike what you may be used to from school experience, you need not make hard-and-fast decisions when you teach your own child. No career-track nail-biting, no college-prep or “general education” track decisions will shape the next few years. Nothing is written in stone. You can decide today to be a strict curriculum devotee, following an absolute schoolwork schedule from 8:00 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday, only to find next month that you and your child hate this “school-brought-home” routine and want a freer approach. Then you may explore the techniques and theories written about and utilized by such educators and teachers as Charlotte Mason, Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore (http://www.moorefoundation.com/), and John Holt (http://www.holtgws.com/).

As you discover more about your child and yourself, you may interject more of your personalities into your homeschooling efforts. After all, this family you have built and maintained is your “world,” and its road(s) to academic excellence are as uniquely individual as is your daily diet, wardrobe, and vacations. Above all, be yourselves! ML & ML
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