Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Beginning the Homeschool Journey: The New Homeschooler's Questionnaire Cheat Sheet

Thanks for stopping back by on day three of my how to start homeschooling posts!  I mentioned that yesterday was my most important post, but I believe that today will actually give you the most information.  What I want to do is to go more in depth with the questions I gave you yesterday, in case you need more help with your answers.  And, even if you know your answers, this will maybe give you some addition ideas to help you on your way.

1.  Why did you decide to homeschool?  There are a million and one reasons for why families decide to homeschool, so I won't give you the list.  What I DO want you to do is write it down.  Maybe, you just liked the idea and so you don't have a good 'reason,' but I would still challenge you to dig deeper into why homeschooling sounded better to you then sending your children to a public or private school.

This information is very important in setting the ground work for your homeschool environment.  If you are homeschooling because you want your children to be more academically challenged, you want to be sure you are finding curriculum to do that.  If you want more time with your children, you may want to choose a curriculum that is well planned out so you can focus on your kids and not lesson planning.  If you are a family on the go with sports or other activities, you will want to find one that is easy to travel with-maybe that uses a DVD or CD that can travel with you in the car...the list goes on, but be sure to take the time to set out this foundation for your homeschool.

2.  Have your children been in public school (or private for that matter)?  If so, for how long? This is going to make a difference in your homeschool at the start.  Depending on your child, there is going to be a 'deschooling' time that is just a normal part of bringing them home.  The average amount of time is one month for every year they were in public school.  Even if it seems all they wanted to do was come home, they will still be used to school and have some withdrawals.  For the years they have been in school, home has been playtime, so doing school when they think they should be playing will be a bit of an adjustment.

Another thing to consider, especially with slightly older children, is that the school system has to make themselves seem just a little bit smarter and more authoritative then mom and dad at home in order to keep the peace and the kids listening to them at school.  This WILL come into play when you are teaching them at home, so be prepared for it and understand where it is coming from.  It will take sometime for your children to accept that you do know enough to teach them, and they need to listen to you.

3.  Are your children at, above, or below grade level? This is, again, for the child coming home from school.  Sometimes, families choose to homeschool for a non-academic reason.  So, they pull out their child from 3rd grade, and buy 3rd grade curriculum, only to find out that their child is really only reading at a 1st grade level, or needs math at a 5th grade level.  While, you may still have this happen, I would suggest having your child take a placement test before you make any decisions or purchases.  One place I like to recommend is Calvert's placement tests.  They are free, and available for immediate download.  Mom and Dad grade the tests form K-3 and you can send in the tests for 4-8th to be graded (but you could look over them yourself if you would rather).

4-7.  What are your goals for the year?  These include your academic goals, extra curricular goals, your CHILD's goals, and your spouses goals.  Homeschooling should be a TEAM effort.  So, get together and find out what everyone on the team (Mom, Dad, and child) are hoping to gain for the year.  Be sure to set realistic goals, but be willing to at least discuss the lofty goals to see if they could become long-term goals.

If you don't know what you are aiming for, you will not succeed in hitting them.  And, you will be forever running around picking up all the things that look fun and educational.  Next thing you know you will have a room full of books and no one will be learning anything!

Breakdown into as many areas as needed.  Math goals, reading goals, science goals, etc.  Get as specific as you can.  Saying 'I want Joe to be better at math' will not help you write lesson plans.  But, 'I want Joe to be able to do 2 digit addition and subtraction' will give you the direction you need to write your math goals.

And, sometimes, there will be one goal-'teach Beth to read' that will trump every other thing on your list.  But, again, break it down so that you can see success in your journey.  'Our goal is to teach Beth to sound out CVC words.'  Then, you will know when you have achieved your goal so that you can write a new one :).

8.  What do you want school to 'look like' at your home?  For so long, school has been a place that you go to.  Away from your home.  We have a stereotypical impression that school is a large room with many small desks, one big desk, a black or white board, books, windows, some bulletin boards, maybe a few carpet've been there, right?  So when I say school at home, people are trying to figure out how to make an area of their home LOOK like a school.  But, the fact that you are now 'homeschooling' means that you have already changed the meaning of school all together.  Remember that schools are simply buildings that have been used to accommodate the teaching of LARGE numbers of children.  So, unless you have 20 kids (which very few us do) you likely do not need to recreate a school in your home.

Now, it doesn't mean you can't have desks or bulletin boards, many of us like the way that looks and feels.  But, you are trying to accommodate the teaching of only YOUR children in your home.  So-base your school around your children and your space options.  I love looking at this collection of school spaces.  Be careful, some of these moms have been schooling for a loooong time, and have worked on these spaces forever.  So, it's not something to easily recreate.

But what school 'looks like' goes so much farther then just a classroom.  Do you want your children to learn from textbooks, or picture books, or the internet, or do you want them to just go out and touch all the flowers and learn about them by looking?  Do you want school to start at 8 and end at 12 and then go about your other life commitments, or do you want school to be just 'part of life' students picking up a book that interests them and then they pursue it?  (or somewhere in the middle)  The options are endless.  But, in order to give your family some direction, you need to figure out what you think will work BEST for them.

9-10.  Do you like schedules, do you like planning?  Flat out, homeschooling takes some planning, but some styles of learning take a lot more planning then others.  You can avoid some planning by simply buying a box of curriculum that tells you when to teach what.  Some others give you some direction and then you plan the rest.  But, if you know if you want help teaching and planning, you will want to look for curricula that has some of the ground work already done for you.

11.  What are your state's requirements?  While this is *technically* the most important question on this list, I purposefully waited until last.  There are going to be some rules in your state that you have to abide by. But, figure out how to make your family's goals and ideas fit with the guidelines rather then using the guidelines to set your goals.  To find out what the laws in your state are, check out the HSLDA's website.  They have a nice list for each state.

I know I have really just scratched the surface of all the questions and information available to you.  But, I wanted to give you some starting points.  With these goals in hand, it can really help you to narrow down not only which curriculum to purchase (or not), but help you with deciding which co-op activities to join and which other things to incorporate to your school, home, and lives.

Have you come up with more questions? Feel free to ask away! I have a burden for new homeschooling moms and families.  I really want to encourage you in anyway possible, so if you have questions, need help or what ideas, please comment or feel free to email me!!

Also, be sure to check out our Schoolhouse Crew blog hop, there are so many great articles to help you on your homeschool journey!!

Thanks for stopping by!
God Bless,

Summer Blog Hop


Tara Mitchell said...

This is very helpful information. It inspired me to create a "Homeschool {Starting Out}" board on Pinterest for new homeschoolers. This is my first pin on that board.

Lisa @ Our Country Road said...

Thank you!! I hope it will be helpful for new families!