How to Create a Holistic Homeschool Environment and Maximize Your Family’s Decision to Homeschool
How I parented my children and prepared them for the world with the experiences I provided for them was always a major factor in my decisions as a mother.
For that reason, I homeschooled my four children on and off for several years before finally making it permanent. I had homeschooled my daughter and youngest son for preschool and in between a couple of private and public school experiences prior to 2009 when homeschool became our final family education option for all the kids.
My focus in the beginning was creating a relaxed family-oriented schedule that ensured each child’s whole person was nurtured. I didn’t want stress or pressing deadlines to complicate our experience. I did want a definite sense of freedom, creativity and health to be the main focus.
When considering homeschooling, it is imperative to consider your main priorities for your child/children. Academic goals are only a part of homeschooling.
Contemplate what type of people you want them to become. How can you help them achieve their very best, love themselves and others, and feel the liberty and confidence to pursue life and purpose and retain their innocence for as long as possible?
The world is literally at your disposal to use for training, teaching, inspiration and example. Homeschooling families have the freedom to use their senses practically to learn, which increases retention a hundred fold in comparison with just rote book learning.
To start your journey as a homeschooling family, understand that there is no perfect day, or prepared day to take children out of public or private school, if they have previously been enrolled in one or the other.
If you have made this choice and are moving forward, in the state of Texas, you owe no one any explanation. You may go to your child’s school and disenroll them with only the information that they are now going to be homeschooled. You do not even have to relay that information, but it is recommended.
(If you are in other states, please check online with homeschooling communities and get advice on how to disengage from the public school system. Times have changed and public school, even private schools are not the exemplary options they once were.)
If you are curious about or even considering homeschooling, whether for one child or five, the following are some simple ways to get started and to integrate this new lifestyle into your home.
First Things First
In any new endeavour, there remains an ending of the previous and a beginning for the new.
Following disenrollment, I recommend at least a one to two week, even up to a month, of rest from education. No school. Kids and parents need to decompartmentalize and let their brain flow as naturally as it was meant to do. This will prepare everyone for their new life and create the opportunity to reconnect and bond together.
- Go on a trip, sleep in. Make breakfast together, or dinner. Have pillow fights. Tickle. Read, read, read. Life is on your time now. Make the very best of it. Live this new path your way.
- Devise a loose lifeplan for your family that includes everyone’s needs. This will be comprised of appointments, errands, family activities (incorporate homeschooling subjects and goals into these plans, if this is something you would like) and future goals for family, school and any work requirements for either or both parents.
- If Dad or Mom is the main or only person working, he/she can also provide any homeschooling learning experience of your choice briefly in the evening, on days off, or on the weekend.
Homeschooling offers the huge benefit of using your family life and activities outside the home as learning and exciting experiences for you and your children.
Create your Homeschool Schedule.
You may use your break to create one, or wait until the break is over. Your schedule to teach, however you choose to, should be approached with loose structure:
Be aware that homeschooling allows a child to absorb and retain knowledge much faster, so there is NO need for a 7–8 hour school day. A 2–3 hour day for the younger ones and 3–4 hour day for the older ones.)
Activities to include in your day:
1. Instructional time (you teaching/guiding, explaining and mentoring)
2. Study/Read time (kids independently using books or online learning and time for you to read to them, as well. Be available to them for questions or explanations.)
3. Breaks/Snacks (Think walks and outside time. Snack/meal time can be used to teach food prep and cooking skills.)
4. Hands On Work time (online and/or workbooks)
Embracing a new mindset
Start and end time are up to you. Which days of the week to homeschool are up to you. The daily inclusions noted above are just suggestions.
Trust your instincts and create your own education experience based on what you know your child does and does not like, what they are good at, what they need work in, and on their physical, emotional and mental needs.
Add what you would like to introduce them to: music, art, sports,…anything and everything that will broaden and enhance their minds and their lives.
Consider adding outside structured activities such as acting, dancing, singing, tennis, swimming. There are many scholarships for homeschooling families.
Allow creativity and flexibility to be foremost in your days.
- School may be in the park one day, or at a concert another day or swimming at the pool another day. Life itself is a teacher.
(I used trips to Galveston and to NASA for building on the ocean facts my elementary children were working on and to introduce all the kids to complicated science and space learning through a NASA tour.)
- We went on nature walks. Use the weekly grocery store trips to teach money handling and economic at any age. Visit an Indian Reservation.
- Remember you are the compass for your homeschool experience, not other parents, the school board, laws or misunderstanding family members or nosy neighbors.
- Live life on your terms not by someone else’s standards,…but do create and live by standards for yourself so you are building daily towards the goals you want for yourself and your children.
- Gather the supplies you need for just the first 2–4 weeks. Do not go all out as you will soon see what you do and do not need. And needs change quickly.
- You may want store bought science kits or to collect jars and use recyclables for learning. You may want structured curriculum or you may want workbooks from HPB or Barnes and Noble or something else entirely.
- We used online school resources which I loved and which really helped develop critical thinking skills in all the kids.
- I also used school books bought at Half Price Books…many a tax return went to these expenses and I was proud to do it. I loved choosing the books and including the kids in the choices
Check out all your options:
- For learning materials, there are books that can be bought online or at used bookstores. There are online schools, such as K-12, Time4Learning.com or Ashford University and many others.
- Or, you can create your own for some or all the subjects. This takes alot of work and dedication. Curriculum and worksheets can also be downloaded from a few sites online that cost only $30–50 per year. I loved these.
- A combination of all these options best suited my situation. Also see SchoolHouseTeachers.com
In keeping with all of the suggested ways for your family to love and grow in homeschooling, I have one final suggestion: make a list of all the places you would like to go as a family, especially places that can enhance learning. Seaworld, SixFlags, Nature museums and IMAX all have homeschooling days where you can get a huge discount on tickets for Homeschool Day.
Research this as well, as many places in Texas offer a Homeschooling Day.
Finally, I would definitely recommend coming up with a name for your Homeschool. It officializes your endeavour and sometimes is necessary for some activities and discounts (and the 20% off at HPB!)
The foundational idea of homeschooling is to have the family regain its place and authority in the world as the primary upbringers of its own children.
This is accomplished through the wise and diverse use of the world’s resources in a wall free, wide open classroom and is successful through the intimate, educational, and relational interaction of parents and their children.
Understanding that homeschooling is not an option for all families, I still attest that the opportunity to gain homeschooling benefits is always open to all. Evenings and/or weekends can still be used as character building, educational occasions using many of the ideas stated above.
Homeschooling in its natural form, is a nontraditional mindset, an approach to child rearing that is adaptable in so many ways for any family.
The suggestions I have offered will help to organize the beginning of your voyage and help to maximize both your immediate experiences and the final outcomes of your family’s homeschooling adventures.