This was originally published at UniversalPreschool.com’s blog in 2012, shortly before we dropped our son off at UC Berkeley and all too quickly said good-by. He was on his own, and our days of homeschooling him were over. Two years later, we watched him graduate with a degree in molecular and cell biology. It was one of the most exciting days in this homeschool mom’s life!
It seems like just yesterday that I was explaining to disapproving people that no, my son was not in preschool. They were pretty convinced that he wouldn’t be “ready,” whatever that meant.
Although he never went to pre-school (or K-12 either), he is about to graduate from community college and is preparing to transfer to a university. He’ll soon be moving out, and the last few months have been a time for me to reflect on his life and mine. Here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about:
Do I have regrets? Sure! There are things I never got around to doing, and I wish I’d found the time. We’re all going to feel that way when our babies are ready to leave home! I didn’t wake up thinking, “Oh goodie, another glorious day with my three-year-old.” No, I’ll confess that I’d wake up early and tiptoe down the hall, in the hope of just a bit of time alone. He’d hear me and joyfully begin his day before I was ready!
At times he cried, got mad, and generally tried my patience. Some days seemed so long! Now I look back and think it was a good time in our lives, and so worth it.
The preschool years are challenging, but it gets easier, and the reward that comes from helping our children flourish is priceless. Take plenty of pictures, save a few treasures, and jot down some cute things they say so you can remember!
Someday I hope that you too will look back and say “No regrets. It was time well spent and worth the trouble.”
I love witnessing “lightbulb” moments in homeschooling parents. It happened again recently to a mom who returned her child to school after trying homeschooling a few years ago. She has started homeschooling again, and wrote the following note to me.
I’m sharing it with her permission, and with her child’s name removed. Her struggles with homeschooling (and why she decided to send her child to school) are common, and she describes her new understanding beautifully!
I think the first go around with homeschool two years ago wasn’t with xxx but with me and my “schoolie mindset”. I thought I had to schedule xxx’s day to make sure he was learning something. I had us so scheduled, and things divided into “educational” and “not educational” that even the educational stuff that xxx once liked became “school”. I’d ask him if he wanted to watch Discovery Channel with me and he would be like, “isn’t that science? I just did that.”
So right now, I am thrilled to say that at this moment in time we are happily deschooling and may do so for several months to come. We have a lot of road blocks that traditional created so getting through the “mind junk” is goal #1.
I am starting to pull back and when I do I see that xxx is really learning by doing the things he loves. . . .
It’s a process and a struggle to understand how homeschooling can be different from school. Her big breakthrough was when she realized that schoolishness was making him not want to learn anything extra because he’d already studied that subject. I hope her experience encourages you!
Helping your child develop his/her fine and gross motor skills is critical, yet often overlooked. It’s not on the end-of-the-year public school standardized test, so there may not be time in school unless a child is labeled as having special needs.
Learning to hop, balance, catch, skip, and cut are just a few physical skills that will help a child strengthen his ability to learn. Fortunately, practicing them is fun, and I found a terrific site that has loads of suggestions!
The Anonymous OT is written by a pediatric occupational therapist who offers tips on helping all children develop important skills. While there are some special needs categories that may help some of you with a specific problem, I’m going to suggest that the Fine Motor Skills and Gross Motor Skills categories are good places for everyone to begin. You’ll find lots of educational ideas for teaching your children the way they learn best – by moving and playing!
These are the skills that will help with reading, writing, and learning. They are better than a workbook, and a lot more fun!
**Special note to a few of you. Do any of the following descriptions describe you?
Ok, if you need proof that your child did something to promote learning today, take a picture! Journal activities. And if you’re worried that it’s all looking like a bunch of party games and way too much fun, just look at who compiled the list. A professional. Someone who is hired to help kids make their bodies and brains work better. It’s all about learning.Karen Taylor shares homeschooling comments and links on Facebook, Pinterest, and this blog. Click on the buttons at the top of this page to subscribe so that you don’t miss them!
You think you want to homeschool, but you’re not ready. You may never be. And if you’re a perfectionist, it’s even worse, because your plans will never be perfect enough. So just do it. Jump in and declare that you are homeschooling and then worry about the rest after you’ve taken your first trip to the park and baked some cookies or whatever you like to do for fun.
Don’t go to the State Department of Education or local school for your homeschooling information. You want accurate information from a state organization that specializes in your state and supports your desire to homeschool. Every responsible state organization is going to have easy-to-understand information, and they’ll give it to you for free without scaring you. Your homeschooling friends can help, and if you live in California, I can too.
Schools like to perpetuate the myth that a child who misses even a day of school will forever be behind. Oh, gasp, just think of the important wisdom he might miss . . . not! It’s convenient for schools to have every child there every day, and they also don’t collect funding for a child if he’s absent. So that’s what this is all about. As a homeschooler, you have plenty of time, and it’s ok not to keep regular school hours – in fact, it can be a good thing! You also have a full year to accomplish what you want, so be easy on yourself. Your child won’t fall behind.
As a homeschooler, grade level can be a thing of the past. Let your child be in the same grade as is typical for his age, for purely social reasons. And then teach your child what he needs to know, whether it’s below or above grade level. The important thing is that progress is being made, and you’ll enjoy the freedom of not worrying about whether he is ahead or behind, but just that he is learning what is right for him today.
Ok, you don’t really need to use a pencil, but you need to be able to easily change (or erase!) those plans. No one can possibly imagine what their child might need to know 6 months from now! Make a rough outline if you want (or don’t) but be willing to change often because you’re going to need to adjust. If you are unwilling to bend, you will be miserable, and you’ll also miss some wonderful learning moments!
Don’t just find a group, go to their weekly park days and field trips, and contribute your great ideas. Get involved. This is your support group, and your kids may need the friends, but so do you! If you don’t like the group (it happens), start your own group and soon parents will hear about it and gladly attend.
Trust that it’s going to be ok. Sure, you’re nervous! And you’re not ready. But you know you can do it. Take it one day at a time.
I share homeschooling comments and links on Facebook, Pinterest, and this blog. Click on the buttons at the top of this page to subscribe so that you don’t miss them! Here are some of my recent blog posts for new homeschoolers. Just remember, you can do it! I hope you have a great homeschooling year!
The Gifted Homeschool Forum is keeping a running list of the other “Homeschooling: Where & How to Begin” links as they are submitted.
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