We’re not quite done with this school year yet, but I’ve started planning for next year. I went to the OCHEC convention with several items in mind and I’ve gotten a couple of emails just this week about different places with upcoming curriculum sales. As I said last week, even if the list of things you truly need is short, the list of things you want can be endless.
This week, I’m sharing five things you DON’T have to have to be a homeschooler.
- A teaching degree: (Disclaimer: I have a teaching degree.) I taught fifth graders for six years and was even my school’s teacher of the year one year. I enjoyed it, and I’d like to think I was pretty good at it. It doesn’t really help a lot when it comes to teaching my own kids, though. A lot of classroom teaching is about crowd control. I don’t say that to belittle what teachers do, because they have an important job, and if they can’t get the kids to behave and participate, the kids aren’t going to learn. When it comes to actual teaching, though, the best way to be successful is to know your students and how they learn. You probably know your kids better than anyone, so don’t worry about the fact that I took a class on bulletin boards and overhead projector presentations and you didn’t. Your child will be fine. The two reasons I have appreciated my classroom teaching experience? Having an idea of what’s “normal” has saved me from panic a few times—and made me proud a few times, too. Also, it’s nice to be able to pull out all the manipulatives and games and books from my classroom days!
- A school room: (Disclaimer: I have a school room.) A school room is fabulous for storing all of your books and supplies. It is a relief not to have to clear the table of schoolwork every night before dinner. I love being able to easily access my materials, even if they aren’t being used at the moment. All that aside, though, you don’t need a school room. One of our favorite places to read and discuss is the couch. Not having the latest Ikea set-up with matching baskets and cushions is not going to prevent your child from becoming a successful doctor/lawyer/business person/whatever. Your kids can work anywhere that works for you, and creative storage solutions abound on Pinterest. Don’t let the lack of a separate room deter you from a great adventure!
- Outside classes: (Disclaimer: My son has taken outside classes.) Everyone who doesn’t homeschool seems very concerned about homeschoolers getting enough socialization, and as homeschooling has increased in popularity, more and more classes are available. It’s easy to buy into the idea that our kids need to have outside classes. If they want to and you want to, that’s one thing, but if you’re doing things you don’t enjoy just because you think you should, that’s another. At the start of this year, I knew my son would be in speech at some point, but I didn’t know the details. I signed him up for PE, which was once a week, and then decided on geography class taught by another mom twice a month. Speech turned out to be twice a week and then the PE teacher added in another day of class. Can I tell you how excited we are to be done with speech and almost done with geography? It’s ridiculous how giddy we both are at the prospect of having just PE next year—the class he enjoys the most and is the easiest place to entertain my daughter while we wait. Signing up for too much also limits your freedom to be spontaneous, which just stinks.
- A packaged curriculum: (No disclaimer here.) If a packaged curriculum is what is best for your family, there is nothing wrong with it. They can provide structure and support that can be very important if you are just starting out and are unsure of what to do and where to start. They can be great if you’ve got several children and very limited time to plan. There is a place for packaged products. If you don’t want to use one, or if you can’t afford one, though, there are so many resources out there that you don’t need one to successfully homeschool. Take the time to find blogs of moms with similar philosophies and you will find more ideas than you have time to implement. Use your library and good books. You know your children better than anyone and you can tailor their education to fit their needs.
- A strict allegiance to one educational philosophy: (Again, no disclaimer.) If you read a book or two on homeschooling, you start to see how some people want to put everyone in a box—exactly what homeschooling is NOT about! It’s okay to agree with some of Charlotte Mason’s ideas but still primarily use a packaged curriculum. It’s okay to pick and choose what fits you and your family, because unless you created the philosophy, you’re probably not going to agree with every single thing!
You can do this!