|"Am I qualified to homeschool my children?"
Tami's response: "Most parents are qualified to homeschool. It depends somewhat on the laws in your state or province. In my state, I am qualified to homeschool based soley on the fact that I have my high school diploma. I do have some college credits, but most of my teaching comes directly from my reliance on God to direct me. I have always naturally been a teacher and leader, so it was not a big stretch to teach my children. And I have learned so much alongside my children. It has been an education for me!"
"How much does it cost to homeschool?"
Tami's response: "The cost to homeschool can vary from a family that utilizes the internet and their local library for very little out of pocket costs. Some homeschool families go to the opposite end of the spectrum and pay to have their child's homeschool learning provided on satelitte dish or DVD. For my family of six children, I spend about $500 per year in textbooks and supplies. That is not a lot when you compare it to the cost of private school. I would spend more than $500 per year on school lunches, if I sent my children to a regular school."
"How do I start homeschooling?"
Tami's response: "Start reading everything you can about homeschooling. There are literally thousands of websites and groups online dedicated to homeschooling. It is a vast arena. One of my favorite sites to begin with is the Homeschool Legal Defense website. They have the laws for each of the 50 United States. And they keep up with ongoing litigation in each state.
Check to see what books your local library has on the topic of homeschooling. I sell a book on my website that is called, Homeschooling Methods. It gives a brief synopsis of many different ways you can homeschool successfully. Talk to your spouse throughout this process. Without both parents on board, you cannot start homeschooling. Talk to your friends and family. Most likely you will be able to talk to at least on person who knows someone who homeschools.
My best advice is to have a mission statement and know what your goals are for educating your children. This varies from family to family. But it will help guide you in choosing materials.
Ask questions. I welcome questions about homeschooling. Send your questions to me at email@example.com."
"What about socialization?"
Tami's response: "In all my 9 years of homeschooling, we have never had a problem with a lack of social opportunities. In most areas across the country, there are homeschool support groups. They exist to support you in your homeschool journey. Many of them provide field trips, enrichment classes, park days, and much more. If you are in an area without a homeschool support group, you can find opportunities to volunteer in your community. Another way that we have found many opportunities to be around others is through our local 4-H group. The ideas on ways to get together with other homeschoolers is limitless! My children can talk to people of all ages from young to old. And they are not socially awkward in any way."
"What about standardized testing?"
Tami's response: "All homeschool parents want the best for their children. Some states require annual standardized testing. Some states do not have this requirement, so some parents just opt to do the standardized testing to see what their child(ren) know. We have used the 1970 version of the California Achievement Test for many years. And it is a good test for a student who can read and follow directions independently. For a child with special needs, I would recommend a test such as the Woodcock-Johnson that is administered by a person trained to perform that assessment. I order my CAT test from Christian Liberty Press each year, and I have been pleased with their services. They are easy to work with, and they get the materials to you quickly. As a homeschool teacher, I am well aware of my students' best subjects and weak areas. But this test does give me a gauge to see how they are progressing from year to year."
How do I do it effectively on my own?""EM>
Tami's response: "It would depend on your definition of "effectively." From Dictionary.com, effectively means:"
ef⋅fec⋅tive /ɪˈfɛktɪv/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [i-fek-tiv] Show IPA –adjective 1. adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result: effective teaching methods; effective steps toward peace. 2. actually in operation or in force; functioning: The law becomes effective at midnight. 3. producing a deep or vivid impression; striking: an effective photograph. 4. prepared and available for service, esp. military service. –noun 5. a member of the armed forces fit for duty or active service. 6. the effective total of a military force. Origin: 1350–1400; ME < style="FONT-VARIANT: small-caps" href="http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=effect&db=luna">effect ) + -īvus -ive Related forms: ef⋅fec⋅tive⋅ly, adverb ef⋅fec⋅tive⋅ness, ef⋅fec⋅tiv⋅i⋅ty, noun
"This would also go back to my advice to have a mission statement and goals for your homeschool. What is the end result that you are trying to achieve in homeschooling? The goals will differ from family to family, and sometimes, it might even vary from student to student in your homeschool."
"You need to know where you want to go in order to map out an educational plan. The goals of our homeschool cannot by judged by someone else, since they may desire a different outcome. Of course, we all want to cover the basics (reading, writing, and arithmetic). But you will want to gear your student's education toward the goal of preparing him or her for adulthood."
"In closing, I encourage you to now compare yourself and your homeschool to someone else's standard, but spend some time digging deep within yourself to establish a mission statement and goals."
"How to choose the right homeschool packet for my kindergartner?"
Tami's response: "Since you have already read my post about your mission statement and educational goals, I will jump right in and answer that you should choose your child's curriculum based on their learning style. Each person learns things different. Some learn by sight (visual learner). Some people learn by sound (auditory learner). And some people learn by doing (kinesthetic learner). Of course, there are those people who learn with a mixture of any of these three styles. What I have learned is that I am a visual learner. And I had to adjust the way I taught to fit my child who is an auditory learner. I also have a kinesthetic learner. And I have an visual learner. Once I adjusted my expectations on how to present the material, I looked for curriculum that fit my child's way of learning. I would not give my kinesthetic learner a stack of workbooks. What I did was research, research, research. And I found a program that matched his strong suit in hands-on learning."
"How do I balance it all (school, church, house, husband, social, etc.)
Tami responds: "Balance in life in general is a juggling act for most moms. When you add in the job of being a homeschool mom, you add a full-time job to your plate. I have found that I do the best with balance when I focus on God, my husband, my family, and then others, in that order. My days are more ordered, if I give God my time first thing in the morning.
Husband: My husband and I talk several times during the day, and we also schedule date nights as our budget allows. In the times when our budget was lean, we had date night at home after the children went to bed. We make it a point to connect with one another frequently. I read the book, The Power of a Praying Wife many years ago, and it still has an impact on my marriage.
House hold: I have to have a schedule in order to get through the day. We have check off sheets in several places. We have a chore chart. Each child has two daily chores listed on the chore chart. I have a laundry chart that tells us what type of laundry needs to be washed on a given day along with the name of the person who is responsible for laundry that day. That person must sort, wash, dry, fold or hang, and put away the laundry on his or her assigned day. Then we have an evening chart that lists who is responsible for the evening dinner dishes and clean up. We assign one older person to one younger person each day of the week. I also keep a calendar handy, so we know when appointments are scheduled.
School: Each child has a section in our school cabinet for his or her school books. They know that they have to work in each of their books in the stack each day, and they know that we will do some sort of hands-on activity each school day. We have to hold school 180 days out of each calendar year according to NC law. I always allow for a week in each school year for sickness. I have a check off sheet that I use to keep track of our school days.
Church: We attend church nearly every service. If we miss a service, it is usually due to sickness. I have learned what I can and cannot add to my responsibilities at church. Currently, I am a Sunday School teacher, and I am the Vacation Bible School Director. There have been years when I was unable to do a physical job for the church, but I have always been a prayer warrior for our church, and that serves a very good purpose. Learn to say, "No."
Social: This is an area that is most lacking as far as socialization for me. I have taken the children on various homeschool acitivties throughout the years. And they have friends that we see regularly. But I do not have an activity that is exclusively mine. With six children in the home, I just do not have the time or money to devote to a hobby or social event for myself. In closing, I have learned to rely on God for everything, including our schedule and activities, and He takes care of a lot of the things that I juggle on a daily basis. "
"How do I homeschool multiple ages?"
Tami's response: "This year I am homeschooling children from age 2 to 18. This presents some challenges. What I have found is that the younger children need me to give them my undivided attention for a short time at the beginning of the day in order to "fill their love tanks." Once I have spent some time with the younger ones, they are more apt to spend some time playing quietly with toys and activities while I work with my older children. I highly recommend the book Preschool Activities in a Bag. It gives ideas for activities that you can assemble ahead of time for your younger children." "I also have the older children work on subjects that they can complete with little assistance from me while I am spending time with the younger children. Once I have the younger children occupied with an activity, I will work one-on-one with the older children as needed." "Of my school-aged children, the ones who need me the most are the beginning readers. I have to spend a lot of time on phonics instruction with my 5 and 6 yr olds. So I have to factor that time into my schedule, and sometimes I will spend this intensive instruction time with the child during the younger children's nap time." "Another strategy I have for teaching multiple ages is to combine teaching as much as possible. All of the children in middle school and below are on the same topic in Bible, history, and science. Each child receives an assignment in reading or writing based on his age. But the overall teaching of the topic is the same. I have found KONOS to be the best curriculum for multi-age teaching."
"What does the perfect homeschool day look like?"
Tami's response: "Every homeschool day is different. Each day we start out our morning with breakfast, getting dressed, and morning chores. Then we move into the school portion of the morning. I will spend tie with my little ones while my older ones begin their math fact sheets. I am able to answer questions and get them started on their math lessons as they complete the fact sheets. As each child completes a subject he or she moves on to the next subject. I am always available to help explain new material. At some point, we will break from individual studies to work on our group studies in Bible, history, and science. We usually finish our studies by noon. We prepare lunch, finish up chores from the morning, and clean the kitchen. The little ones have nap or rest time after lunch. And the older children pursue other interests, including music practice. I normally spend time in the afternoons working in my home office. And my oldest child usually begins dinner preparations. We eat dinner together as a family most nights, and the evenings are free time." "That is a loose schedule for us. The children know what to expect with our schedule. But we find that it often has adjustments as we have doctor's appointments throughout the month. We also spend most of the day on Friday doing acts of service for others. I schedule our paperwork school days for 180 days of school per calendar year, and I do not count these service days as school days. I do count field trip days as school days, just as a normal school would count them."
"How do I make it more fun and still keep them focused on what needs to be done?"
Tami's response: "Over the years, I have found that my children remember more about a topic if we do a hands-on project that is related to the subject at hand. This is usually accomplished as apart of a unit study. Over the years, I have used many different unit studies, including KONOS, Five in a Row, Hands of a Child, Amanda Bennett Unit Studies, Knowledge Box Central, and more." "A prime example of their retention of a subject would be my son who was in 3rd grade. During his annual testing, I had him tested in science and history knowledge. He scored a 9th grade level in science and history that year. This was due mainly to the topics we studied, but he retained the information."
"Do colleges admit homeschool graduates?"
Tami's answer: "Yes, colleges admit homeschoolers. In many cases, colleges recruit homeschool students. Many colleges have realized that homeschool graduates are smart, self-starters who do very well on the college level." "I would suggest that you read a bit about the Colfax family for further proof. Do a search for Colfax Homeschooling, and you will find several links, including links to their book on Amazon.com." "Many homeschoolers receive scholarships for college, and it is worth you while to research and plan for college as your student begins his or her high school years."
"How do I teach a child with learning disabilities?"
Tami's response: "There are many websites and publishers who specialize in homeschooling a child with special abilities. I, personally, have homeschooled children with ADD, ADHD, poor visual acuity, and dyslexia." "I have done a lot of reading and researching online and at conventions. There are programs available for you. It just takes a little digging to find what fits your child's needs." "We used the services of an occupational therapist for a while, and she was a vast resource for me in finding materials for my son." "There is also a small group based in North Carolina called GIFTSNC, Inc. They have a lot of resources and a Yahoo Group. You will find parents that homeschool their children with special needs to be more than willing to help you find resources." "Homeschooling a child with special needs is a special blessing, and it is something that I am glad I was able to do with my son."
"Can I homeschool an only child?"
Tami's response: "I can answer that question with a resounding, "Yes." You can homeschool an only child. There are perks to homeschooling an only child. Your student will have one-on-one instruction. You will also get to know one another quite well, since your attention is not divided among several children." "I have a very close friend who is homeschooling her only child. And it has been a blessing to the whole family. My friend's husband works a job with a lot of shift changes. Homeschooling their daughter has enabled him to have a relationship with her that he might have missed out on, if she had a traditional schedule and was gone for most of the day." "A dear friend of mine, Donna Connor, wrote a book called, Homeschooling Only One. It is very insightful for those who are considering homeschooling an only child or who is currently homeschooling an only child. You will find many resources on her blog that I linked to." "One thing that I have taken from all the reading I have done on homeschooling an only child is that you need to incorporate outside activities for both of you to have a social outlet of some kind."
"Can I homeschool if I have a long-term illness?"
Tami's response: "Yes, you can. It will take some planning on your part, but you can homeschool if you or one of your children has a long-term illness." "I have a friend who has a debilitating disease. And she is able to homeschool, because she has trained her children well, and because she has a plan that her children know how to follow when she has a day when she cannot get out of bed." "I have had another friend who homeschooled through years of cancer treatment. She is no longer with us, but her children can look back at the time she was able to spend with them homeschooling. From what I have read, her children have continued to be homeschooled by dear friends in their local homeschool group." "I have personally homeschooled while on bedrest with difficult pregnancies. And I have homeschooled children with on-going medical issues. It takes persistence and flexibility, but it can be done." "I would suggest that you network with homeschool families in your area. They can be an excellent resource for you."
"Are homeschool groups necessary?"
Tami's response: "Homeschool groups are not an absolute necessity, but they are helpful in the homeschool journey." "I have been a part of local homeschool groups, co-op homeschool groups, state homeschool groups, and internet homeschool groups. Each of these gave me something of value in my homeschool experiences." "My children have enjoyed the various experiences with homeschool groups as well. They have made friends that share similar values. And for me, having a mom's homeschool support group has been invaluable." "When I am having a down day, I can turn to my homeschool friends for encouragement. This is true of my relationships in person and online. If I did not have a local homeschool group, I could get along with my online homeschool groups. I just prefer having local friends to go to when needed." "As far as statewide homeschool groups, I have been a memeber of our statewide group for a number of years. They keep up with legislation in my state, and we band together when bills are introduced to our legislature that threaten our homeschool freedoms." "So I highly recommend being involved in some level in a homeschool support group whether it be in person or online."
"Can I homeschool through high school?"
"Yes, you can!"
"Many people are intimidated to homeschool through the high school years. It has been one of the biggest blessings of my life to homeschool my daughter through high school. Of course, I was nervous as that time approached for her, but looking back now that she is weeks away from graduation, I can say that it was not nearly as hard as I thought it would be."
"I did a lot of reading and research on homeschooling a high schooler. And there are so many resources available for high school that we had to make decisions on what to use for her. This is a good problem to have. Especially since I have a son who is approaching high school. Some of our curriculum choices will be different for him, as we help him choose studies to complement what he wants to do after high school."
"There are also online options for homeschooling a high schooler. And in many states, a high school student can take courses at the community college level. These courses can be counted both as high school credits and college credits. I know of many homeschool students who graduate from high school and community college at the same time. It is worth looking into in your area."
"You can also look into internships and other experiences for your high school students. The choices are endless. I spent a lot of time reading of the accomplishments of the current graduating class in my statewide homeschool group newsletter, and many of the graduates have had missionary experiences during high school."
"Homeschooling in high school is what you and your student make of it. Just be aware of requirements in your state for high school. And also prayerfully consider your child's plans for adulthood."
"Why attend a homeschool convention?"
"Most, if not all 50 states, have a homeschool convention each year. I have always viewed it as a time of renewal for my role as a homeschool mom. For many years my husband would volunteer to watch the children for the whole week-end while I attened our state homeschool convention. Now that we own a homeschool business, attending the convention is a family affair."
"Speaking from my experience as a homeschool mom, I found the speakers at the convention to be so uplifting and informative. Even if I could not attend all of the speakers, I could buy a CD of the talks to take home with me. There were times when I took my older children as particpants, and they enjoyed the talks that were just for teens. It was uplifting to them to meet other homeschooled teens. Our convention even has events scheduled for the teens two of the nights of convention."
"The vendor hall at the bookfair is also a wonderful opportunity for you to view products in person. I have spent many an hour looking at books and buying books in the vendor hall. Many of the vendors are homeschool families, and it is nice to be able to support their endeavors. And I enjoy being able to purchase materials that were written with homeschoolers in mind. I encourage you to buy from the vendors at the conventions when at all possible. I have found as a vendor that it is very expensive to attend these shows, and it is such a blessing when you receive sales that make your investment worthwhile."
"So I encourage you to attend a homeschool convention. It is a great way to recharge your batteries."