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Homeschooling Starts In Many Different Places

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Homeschooling Starts In Many Different Places

By Linda Dobson

homeschoolingFor some folks, the decision to pursue homeschooling is a piece of cake compared to actually facing the first day of complete responsibility for their children’s education. I know: I’ve been there. There can never be a definitive “how to” book for this occasion, no matter how loudly a title may shout it. Why? Because that momentous “first day” – and, for that matter, all subsequent days – are unique to each family. Let’s meet just a few of the broad “groups” of new homeschoolers to help you understand how the experience that all call by the same name – homeschooling – starts from many different places.

The Many Starting Points of Homeschooling

Let’s begin with the I-Always-Knew-I-Would family. They’ve known since their first child was born – and maybe even before – this was the only way to fly. For them, the first day of homeschooling is not the first day of school during the year their child turns five or six years old. Rather, their child simply turns five or six during the learning rhythm of day-to-day life, and they’re well aware from the get-go that each day provides opportunity and experience galore for learning. There is no easily recognizable first day of homeschooling for this family.

The Oh-No-He’s-Almost-School-Aged family makes the decision to homeschool when the day to sign up for kindergarten looms ever closer. Likely, friends and acquaintances with children the same age busily go about the rituals associated with starting school: taking their children to “readiness tests”; buying new clothes; checking bus schedules; making sure all vaccinations are up to date. The Oh-No-He’s-Almost-School-Aged family is less likely to recognize the learning rhythm of all the days that have passed before and enter into what may be termed “substitute” rituals: a quest to find the magical list that outlines what all the other kindergartners will be learning that year (aka curriculum); a frantic materials- and book-buying spree; a series of late-night “Are we doing the right thing?” conversations; a tenth phone call making sure they’ve got the right day and time for the next homeschool support group meeting. For the Oh-No-He’s-Almost-School-Aged family, there will be a first day of homeschooling, and it will be a “happening.”

The first day of homeschooling is different still for the I-Don’t-Want-Him-in-School-Anymore family. Each of this group’s families has their own reasons for this, be it religious, philosophical, academic, social, growing fear for their child’s safety, or an intricate combination of some or all of the above. One or several of their children have gone to school for a year, maybe a few years. Their children are still quite young but even in this relatively short time period, the family has grown assimilated to the school routine. The I-Don’t-Want-Him-in-School-Anymore family will not only have a first day of homeschool “happening,” this family is likely to make sure it starts on time and occurs in specific subject areas at specific times of the day, to boot – just like school!

See also “The Best Thing about Home Is That It Isn’t a School at All

And last, meet the My-(Pre)Teen-Is-Coming-Out-of-School family. They have spent a long time in the school routine, and their child may be bored or overwhelmed academically, ditto for socially, acting out, caving in to peer pressure, or sensing that school isn’t all there is. The idea to homeschool may have been Mom’s or Dad’s, or it may just as easily have been suggest to them by their child.

This child may have many strong ideas about where he wants to go with homeschooling and jump right in with little or no help or guidance from parents. Another teen, used to having others set the learning schedule and agenda, could easily require – or even demand – strong guidance from a parent. In either case, the first day of homeschooling is different here than it is in the I-Don’t-Want-Him-in-School-Anymore family’s house, as an increasingly independent teen approaches everything differently than an elementary school-aged child does.

Different Homeschooling Starting Points Send Each Family On Its Own Path

We could go on, but from even these few examples you can begin to see how many varied places there are from which a family begins its homeschooling journey. Homeschooling is neither easier nor harder for any one of these broad groups of new homeschoolers; it’s simply different. And with so many different starting points, you can begin to see how each family will soon be traveling its own homeschooling path in its own way.

Adapted from Linda Dobson’s classic, The Homeschooling Book of Answers: The 101 Most Important Questions Answered by Homeschooling’s Most Respected Voices
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