With the global pandemic forcing cancellations and closings, many parents are pulling their kids from public and private schools to homeschool. But where do you begin? Can you even homeschool without a set curriculum?
The short answer to that last question is yes. Unlike homeschools of thirty years ago, we are blessed with a wealth of information at our fingertips through the Internet, smart televisions, and tablets. We can create a eclectic and powerful blend of curricula for any student, at any level, with tools found on the Internet and, quite possibly, our own homes.
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To homeschool, before you pull your child out of public school, you need to visit the website of your state’s department of education and search for homeschooling. States have different rules, and so you will want to follow what your state requires. As soon as you can, complete the paperwork and send it in, and you will most likely be required to give a name for your homeschool. This is relatively simple – just don’t use your last name, as that takes away a certain level of credibility, if your child goes to the same school as his or her last name.
As soon as you receive the documentation from the state announcing that your homeschool is active, print out the official statement from the Department of Education and take it to your child’s school. You will need this document to formally withdraw your child from that school. You are now a homeschooler! Congratulations!
Now let’s talk how you can homeschool. Don’t believe that you have to imitate public school; in this case, imitation is not flattery. You will want to take a few days off and ask your children what they want to do in their homeschool. If a child is allowed to learn a specific interest, there’s a high likelihood it will stick. For example, if a child is interested in chemistry, don’t say “Oh but you’re just in 10th grade; juniors take chemistry.” If a child is interested in chemistry, by all means, let him learn it! If you have a second-grader who loves trains, by all means – incorporate that into homeschool! There is a wealth of knowledge to be had about trains: spelling, math, science, history, all of it can be incorporated into a study of trains.
There are many online resources that are free or low-cost to use for curriculum to get started. The main thing is, you do not need to shell out hundreds of dollars to homeschool. Here are some resources:
Do you have a dictionary in your home? That can be a spelling book. You can do an Internet search for grade-level spelling words and, using the dictionary and other resources such as word search and crossword creators, have a complete spelling curriculum. Add in writing definitions (again, the dictionary) and sentences (that would be writing), then slide in writing the words multiple times each, both in print, in cursive, and typing them, and you have a multi-sensory spelling curriculum.
A simple grammar curriculum I use a great deal is from Schoolhouse Teachers. In addition to many other courses, their language arts and grammar courses are wonderful online resources to teach your child. At the end of the courses, they receive certificates of completion that document their progress. There are many self-paced courses and some are video-based.
In addition to Schoolhouse Teachers, 7Sisters Homeschool offers a no-busywork e-book-based curriculum from 20+ year veteran homeschool moms. They offer a huge amount of language arts and other subjects for several grade levels.
In addition to Schoolhouse Teacher’s phenomenal science resources, Home Science Tools offer first-rate science tools, equipment, and projects to supplement your curriculum. For curriculum, you can use Education.com for science projects and worksheets up to fifth grade (they also have many other subjects, too). Teachers Pay Teachers is a good site, too – you can do a search for any subject, including science, and choose the free option, to get a plethora of resources and worksheets ready to download and print. This site goes up through 12th grade.
In addition to Education.com and Teachers Pay Teachers, which also feature math worksheets, you can teach math with simple at-home instructions. All you need is paper and pencil to make worksheets for counting, addition, and subtraction, and you can download and print multiplication tables to use for multiplying and dividing. For young children, you don’t even need paper and pencil – just play, count, and play games to teach them numbers.
For higher maths, MathPlanet.com is an incredible, free online resource that offers courses in pre-algebra, Algebra I and II, Geometry, SAT, and ACT prep.
Reading to your children is the best way they will learn to read. Seriously. If they have books, there’s no need to visit the library or bookstore, or order books online. Just have them read their own books. You can read them too, then ask them questions to make sure they comprehend what they read. Audio books are great, too, for long car rides or just to play at home instead of having the television on. Don’t forget classic literature.
Want to ensure your child learns a foreign language? Schoolhouse Teachers offers incredible courses (many with video instruction) in French, Spanish, Latin, Latvian, American Sign, and English as a Second Language. Why not learn it with your child so you can practice together? My daughter, Laura, just told me she wants to learn Spanish next year in fifth grade – and I intend on learning it with her. I also would love to learn American Sign Language to better communicate with hearing impaired people at my church and in the community.
Who says physical education has to be a structured class? Go outside with your kids, and shoot some hoops. Talk a walk around the neighborhood. Have the kids time themselves while running races. There are so many things you can do with “PE” – just make it fun!
With so many activities being canceled or closed with the Coronavirus pandemic, extracurricular activities should really be examined heavily before diving into them. Still, this is a great time to show love to neighbors and friends. If you know of someone who is ill (it doesn’t have to be a pandemic), show some love to them by mowing their yard or taking their trash to the curb or dumpster. Service can be a big deal in homeschool. Baking, cooking, cleaning, and car maintenance can all be part of homeschool. In baking alone, reading, science, and math are all part and parcel of baking a cake, whether it’s from scratch or a box.
Homeschool is not just about academics – it’s learning how to deal with life, in the ups and downs. You cannot learn perseverance from a worksheet – it must be modeled. What better way to teach your kids determination than by homeschooling in the hard times?
© 2020 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Terrie Bentley McKee is an author and speaker who homeschools her youngest daughter. Married to her husband Greg, they have four children, all of whom have special needs of varying degrees. Terrie is a follower of Jesus Christ and tries to glorify God in all she does. To read more about her testimony, click here.
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