Getting Started in Homeschooling
Firmly Planted welcomes you to the wonderful world of home education. It is our prayer that you will find this season in the life of your family to be better than you ever imagined. To that end, we are providing you with some answers to FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions), as well as links to help you surf the internet with skill and purpose!
Remember: YOU CAN DO IT! Firmly Planted offers many resources to encourage and educate you as you homeschool your children.
Visit You Can Homeschool for wonderful information and useful tips on getting started.
Jay and Heidi St. John, Founders of Firmly Planted Family and Firmly Planted Homeschool Co-ops
What is Homeschooling?
Homeschooling means to educate your children at home rather then in public or private school. It exists in a myriad of ways:
Unschooling or child-led education
School at home is when you purchase the textbooks for all subjects & follow much the same pattern as a traditional school.
Another approach that is gaining in popularity called the Classical Approach or Trivium. This approach concentrates on the roots of Western Civilization, emphasizing history, classic languages (Latin and Greek) and becoming a clear, effective communicator.
The Montessori Method is named after its founder, Maria Montessori. This method is very sensitive to the child's direction and uses a lot of manipulatives.
Unit studies are a way of integrating most (if not all) subjects under a single topic of study. For example, if you were studying Ancient Greece, you would cover:
- the history of Greece,
- the science of that time period,
- practice writing skills through reports, short stories, etc. based on what you have learned,
- and reading by reading the mythology of the times.
Many people also use a mixture of the above or sign up with a satellite school, which can help with designing a curriculum, having the security of a teacher you can communicate with, writing transcripts, etc.
Wall Street Journal 3/22/08
"Home-schooled students are routinely high performers on standardized academic tests, beating their public school peers on average by as much as 30 percentile points, regardless of the subject. They perform well on tests like the SAT - and colleges actively recruit them both for their high scores and the diversity they bring to campus."
- 1. Are parents qualified to teach their children?
Answer: Yes, most parents have what it takes to homeschool their children. Parents love their children more and know them better than anyone else. They also want the best for their children. It is this love, knowledge and desire that makes the parent well suited to be the teacher for their children. That said, it does take effort to learn how to homeschool. The first thing we study is our children. The better we understand them, the better we will be able to teach them. We also need to study educational philosophies, learning styles, curricula (what kind and what's available) and how to teach different subjects. So, parents who love their children and are willing to put forth the effort make the best teachers for their children.
- 2. What about socialization?
Answer: This is one of the most commonly asked questions about homeschooling. The truth is that homeschoolers are generally better socialized than children who go to institutional schools. Parents are the best socializers, teaching their children how to get along with others. Many people have the misconception that homeschoolers are isolated and kept away from other children. This is not true for most homeschoolers. Homeschoolers have many opportunities weekly to be with people outside their family. One difference is that homeschoolers have an opportunity to socialize with people of all ages, not just their age mates. Therefore they learn to get along with different ages. The age barrier is not as strong with homeschooled children as it usually is with children who go to school. Studies bear this truth out. There have been several studies to evaluate the socialization of homeschooled children and they have all shown that the homeschooled students have social skills on a par with or better than students taught in a classroom. Homeschool students tend to be more inclusive of people who are different from themselves, and homeschool graduates believe that homeschooling better prepared them to engage the real world.
- 3. When can we start homeschooling?
Answer: That depends on what you really mean by that question. If you mean when can you actually start working with your child, that process begins at birth. As you parent your child, doing all of the things that a good parent should do, you are homeschooling. There are appropriate learning activities at all ages, and there are books available to teach a parent about these stages of development and what can be done at each stage. The time to start book work, such as reading, writing and arithmetic depends on the readiness of your child. In Oregon, the compulsory attendance age is seven. In Washington, it is eight. So, if you have started in the early years, the year that your child turns seven or eight you need to notify the state that you are opening a homeschool. For older children, it is recommended that you notify the state in the middle of the summer before the school year starts.
- 4. Where do we get our books?
Answer: Homeschoolers generally get their curriculum and other resources from two main sources, book fairs and catalogs. There are a few bookstores that carry homeschool materials; check with a local support group about this availability. Don't forget the public library. Wise homeschoolers will get to know how to use and what's available at their library. We are their best patrons. Annual curriculum exhibits are also run throughout the region. The internet has become an invaluable tool for buying used curriculum and other wonderful Homeschooling tools. Ebay and Addall.com are among the favorites. Be sure to ask a seasoned homeschooler where he or she buys her books!
- 5. How do I know what books to buy?
Answer: There is no simple answer to this question. There are many good products for homeschoolers to consider. Homeschool parents must study and research to determine the best curriculum for their family. There are books that describe the resources available. It is a good idea to talk to other homeschoolers about what has been successful and unsuccessful for them. Parents need to select leaning materials that fit their child's learning style and their family. Be sure to check out our curriculum link on this site for wonderful links as well.
You can find out what the law is regarding homeschooling in your state by visiting HSLDA's website. Simply follow this link and click on the state you live in.