Your Homeschooling Questions Answered – Part 2

Continuing to answer the questions I received from an informal poll to find out what you would want to ask a homeschooler. Yesterday we covered understanding why, the rules, qualifications, the nitty-gritty, and socialization.

I asked some non-homeschoolers what questions they would like to ask a homeschooler. Here is the continued list of their questions along with my answers.

6. Homeschooling Styles

Traditional school has public, private, Catholic etc. Are there different kinds of homeschooling? What is unschooling?

Yes, there are a lot of homeschooling styles – more than I probably am personally aware of! Here are the main ones though:

  • Traditional: This is basically following the model of school at home. Textbooks and structured learning with a parent or teacher leading the instructional portion and following a set curriculum.
  • Classical: Dividing childhood up into three segments based on their natural abilities, this language-centred method involves a lot of rote fact learning in the early years when children love memorization, followed by application of logic in the middle years and rhetoric in more advanced grades.
  • Charlotte Mason: Following the teachings of Charlotte Mason, who believed that children should love to learn and as teachers we should facilitate that. This method uses living books – typically fiction books that bring people and events to life.
  • Unit Studies: Deep focusing on one topic at a time and connecting other subjects such as science, history, language, etc together based on that one subject.
  • Unschooling: Also referred to as child-led learning, unschooling allows a child’s interest, passions, and life experiences be the driving force behind their education, instead of a curriculum plan. This approach is completely counter to the traditional methods of schooling.
  • Eclectic: Combining the parts of any of the above methods, or using their own style, this method involves a mix and match approach to learning, personalizing everything to the child’s learning.

Is it religious based?

The origins of the modern homeschooling movement were founded in Christianity, it is true. But today, there is a quickly growing secular or other faith-based part of the homeschooling community. It’s no longer all about faith or religion, but more about a child’s educational needs. More resources are available for secular homeschoolers than there used to be as well.

7. Curriculum & Costs

How much does it cost to home school?

The cost of homeschool varies from free to thousands of dollars, depending on what you choose to use, how much work you are wanting to put into it, and what extras you want to get or be involved with.

Are you purchasing a grade curriculum each year? Do you use textbooks? How/can you create your own curriculum?

Again, the answer to this question is completely dependent on how a family chooses to homeschool. Those who want to follow a more traditional school ideal tend to look for curriculum that comes in a packaged box set for the grade they are in. This usually includes a teacher’s guide, workbooks, texts and other materials you need. However, it is completely possible to make your own curriculum. Thanks to the wide resources of the Internet, you can find and piece together just about anything. Combined with library resources, a field trip or two, and things in your community – putting together your own plan isn’t too hard. It’s just a trade off of time to plan for convenience.

8. Success & Failure

How do you know your child is progressing accordingly to provincial standards? What do you do if your child does not learn well with you as opposed to a teacher, and what if they fall behind?

One of the hardest things to grasp, even for homeschoolers, is that you don’t HAVE to follow the provincial standards. Every child learns at their own pace; they will excel at some things and struggle with others – and that’s OK! Working at their own speed means that you have your child’s best interests at heart and is one of the major reasons that homeschooling is a fantastic way to educate your child.

As a homeschooler, it is incredibly hard to NOT compare your child to other kids their own age or to the pre-ordained checklist of things they “should” know by a specific age. However, if you are really concerned about making sure your child, each province has their curriculum expectations online for you to read through. You can use it as a base for the courses and activities you do in your year.

If you and your child are not working well as a teacher and student, here are some suggestions:

  • It could be that you need to approach learning from a different angle. Try something fresh and new. Try a different homeschool style. Get hands-on.
  • Ask your child what you can do to work better together – their insights might surprise you.
  • Look for outside resources, courses, and classes. Have someone else teach for a while. There are a lot of great online classes you can take advantage of.
  • Take a break. Back off the formal schooling and allow your child to explore for a while on their own. They might learn more than you expect.
  • Try school. It might feel like you’ve failed or surrendered, but if it’s in the best interests of your child’s learning and your parent/child relationship – send them off to a brick and mortar school. If it doesn’t work out, you can bring them home again. It might even make them appreciate your homeschooling efforts more.

9. Post-Secondary

How easy is it for a child to be admitted to a post-secondary college or university after being home-schooled? How does it work for homeschooled kids going to university?

More and more university and colleges are opening their doors to accept homeschooled students more easily. Each school has its own set of requirements. Some ways that homeschoolers deal with the post-secondary plan are to:

  • Work backwards – planning the courses they take to specifically match those of the program they want to enter in post-secondary
  • Get a diploma – by taking officially accredited courses online or through correspondence classes for their high school years
  • Go to school – just for their 6 grade 12 credits
  • Find another way in – wait until they are accepted as mature students, go to an open university and then transfer credits into another program when ready, go part-time, etc.
  • Skip it – and do something else instead – apprenticing, enterpreneuring, adventuring, trade school. University and College aren’t the only options.

10. Time For Mom

Do you ever get overwhelmed with how much time you spend with your children? How do you make sure you have time for yourself either personally or professionally? What about your sanity?

These are great (and important!) questions. As a homeschool parent, you spend a lot of time with your kids. It can get overwhelming at times. Your house isn’t empty often and it can be harder to have a clean home since there are kids are home all day.

It’s vital that homeschooling parents have a network – that’s why we stress finding a local support group. Taking even a short time to chat with other parents who understand can seriously help re-energize yourself when things are stressful. Taking breaks and having fun with your kids is helpful too.

One key (other than a spouse/partner you gives you off time!) is to schedule it in. If it’s part of the routine for mom to have some alone time from 8-9am, or for her to work from 12-3 every day while the kids play independently, then it will be easier to maintain that.

As for sanity… well…. I’m not sure I can speak from experience. It’s quite possible mine left a long, long time ago.

I hope that these 2 days have really helped you get some insight into the world of homeschooling. If you are curious more about the details of how to homeschool in Canada – please sign up to my “thinking about / new to homeschooling” email list, where you will get a copy of my ebook that goes much more in depth.

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