My husband and I probably put more time into making the decision to homeschool our kids than the decision to actually HAVE the kids. Well maybe just the second kid. There was no discussion there. Aaaaanyway, I previously discussed our family’s reasons for homeschooling. This is a big decision that should not be taken lightly. You are now the teacher and you need come up with an educational plan for your kids. This can be very overwhelming and your first reaction may be to PANIC, but with a little bit of research and brainstorming your family can establish an educational philosophy and method of instruction. Here is the process I went through.
Step 1: What are the homeschooling laws in your state? Before you can plan any curriculum, find out what your state requires of homeschoolers. Some states have mandated state testing. Others require the parent to have a college degree. In order to keep your homeschooling freedoms you must adhere to the states requirements. Our family is very lucky in that we live in Wisconsin which has one of the most reasonable homeschooling laws. There is no testing required and we do not need to follow the school districts curriculum. What IS required is 875 hours of instruction between the ages of 6 and 18, along with a plan of instruction. It is a blessing to have such freedom but a lot of stress comes with it. Because our state requires no testing and has no curriculum to follow, I have to develop our own. Now how am I supposed to do that.
Step 2 – Research Research Research. Search out homeschool blogs. Search out teaching blogs, children’s activity blogs, homeschool family blogs. The library is also a fantastic resource. They have books for homeschooling and can also point you in the direction of the local homeschooling group. Connect with other homeschoolers to find out about social activities and co-ops. Read about methods of instruction. Read about the typical day in the life of a homeschooler. Read other homeschoolers recommendations. If you are like me, then you will have a mish mash of all sorts of information and not know how to connect all of it.
Step 3 – Method of instruction. During my research, I was reading the common core standards for each grade. I was an education major in college and that is what we were taught to start your instruction from. As I was reading them, I thought to myself, “I don’t want to teach my kids this way. I may as well send them to school!” But what other ways are there? I was at a stand still at this point, curriculum wise, but luckily one of the books I had checked out from the library had an “Approach to Learning” quiz. It included 8 methods of instruction (traditional, Charlotte Mason, classical, unit study, unschooling, independent study, eclectic, and umbrella program) and 31 “I prefer” questions relating to scheduling, curriculum, grammar, field trips, etc. You can read more about these methods in “100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.“After completing the quiz and using the formula given, you will have a basic understanding of which method of instruction your family would benefit the most from. We scored somewhere between unit study and unschooling, which basically means our ideal teaching setting would be a “classroom” setting enriched with real world experiences.
Step 4 – Educational Philosophy An educational philosophy is a broad, long-term goal or outcome for your homeschooling. (I think some people may have this defined before figuring their method of instruction, but this is the way it happened for our family.) I would define ours as exposing our children be to many different subjects to help them find their niche in life and instill in them a love of learning. This is our basic goal and I’m certain the way to meet that goal will change from year to year. It is our jumping off point and a place to begin.