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Considering Homeschooling?

There have been quite a few families asking about homeschooling in the past month, so I felt that I needed to write a page on homeschooling.  Debbie and myself organised a home school encouragement morning in Harare yesterday. It was so inspiring to see so many young families braving this adventure!

This is where I would start:
1. Pray and ask God to guide you, direct you in making the right decision and to meet the right people. If it is God`s plan for your family, you and your  husband will be convicted! Then Trust Him!

2. Meet other families who are home schooling, see how they do it, what their education philosophy is, ask questions, get advise. You are NOT alone, there is support out there. You need to find it!

3. Read books on how to home school and support to help you.
Sally Clarkson - Educating the wholehearted child, Seasons of a Mother`s heart, The mission of Motherhood
Karen Andreola - A Charlotte Mason Companion
Elaine Cooper - When children love to learn
Ruth Beechick - You can teach your child successfully, The 3 R`s
Raymond and Dorothy Moore - The successful family home school handbook, Better late than early
You can purchase books on www.christianbook.com

4. Define goals for your children. What do you want to achieve in your H.S journey? What is your family`s vision? What is your main purpose?

5. Research different materials/resources/curriculums and make a choice. Be careful here, there are thousands of resources to research and this can be very intimidating! There are also some very academic programs out there (for the academic child) so ask others who have used them for advise. (Abeka, Switch on school house). You may have a slower learner and this program may not suite him? You may also not wish to choose any particular program - see options below.

Option1: You can either choose a set curriculum and you follow along with the material as it is set out for you. NOTE: Use the curriculum as a tool to get you where you want to go. Do not allow it to dictate your every move and decision! Do not feel like you have to tick off all the boxes, read all the books and cross off all the T`s. This can lead to burn out and doing more than you are able to cope with.

Option 2: You can choose resources from various curriculum's that you feel will benefit your children, so you can mix and max and choose the best of the best. This gives much flexibility and you set out your material the way you want to and you can change resources periodically according to your children's changing needs and interests as they grow older and mature.

So, How do I choose the right curriculum/resources for my family?

If you choose option 2, then you change resources according to the changing needs of your children as they grow older. Their interests and needs will change and you can adapt their learning material accordingly. You may also not use the same resources for all your children as they learn differently so as you get to know how your children learn best, you will be able to tailor-make their education to suite their needs.  I find this starts to really happen as they grow older and as they discover their individual interests. While they are little, they normally use all the same resources and interact together. (thankfully - as this is easier for mum too)

Tips in choosing the right curriculum/resources:

1. Know your family`s goals/vision:
What do you want to achieve by home educating your children at home? What else would you like them to learn? (life skills, how to think, character growth, etc)

2. Know your children`s interests:
What do they love to do? Find resources that will nurture their interests.


3. Time available to Mum: 
This is an important point! How much time does mum have to prepare? Choose something that will fit in with mum too.


4. Know your children`s learning style:
When children are very little, you may not know their preferred learning style but as time goes on, get to know how they learn best! Do they learn best by touch and feel (tactile) or sight (visual) or do they learn best when they hear and remember auditory information?

In my experience, I would use very hands on resources that are multi-sensory, using all these learning styles. Little children are curious - they want to be out there, experiencing for themselves, so use their little worlds around them to teach them about life.

 5. Your Philosophy:
There are many ways to teach your children at home using different philosophies which include:
Literature Based, Unit Study, Textbook, Unschooling, Accelerated, Catholic, Classical, Delight Directed and Charlotte Mason. Decide on which one you will use.

6. Cost:
What can you afford? Appeal to other home school families for books that they no longer need and this may help with expenses. Research books that may be cheaper elsewhere. There are many on line book shops. www.christianbook.com, www.bookdepository.com,  www.amazon.com ,

For more information on curriculum, click on this link: http://simplycharlottemason.com/2011/11/02/teach-the-child/

NOTE:
Before you start educating your children at home, work on preparing their hearts and building good character traits! Be consistent in your discipline approaches, spend time together at home, build relationships and make sure character issues are being addressed.

"Stay home,
  Slow down and practise
  Simple living!"

If you are still confused, just begin where you feel your heart is drawn and choose according to where your children are at now. You will get a better idea as you go along, as you teach your children, as you also become more confident, and as God shows you and guides you. Take one day at a time!

Note: If your relationships with your children are being negatively affected, then something has to change!  
1. Reflect on past mistakes and successes;  
2. Re-assess where you are;
3. Review your goals/vision/purpose; 
4. Re-establish these goals and ideals;
What is stealing your joy? Are you allowing the academics to rule as opposed to nurturing your children's` hearts? Is there a discipline issue? Is there unrepentant sin in your own life? Are you fearful of failing so you push harder? http://frosthomeschoolzim.blogspot.com/p/distractions.html

Extra Support:
Links:
www.enchantedlearning.com ($20 per year, free trial, fantastic resources to add to your child`s learning experience, maps to colour, activity books, dot to dot, nature studies etc)
www.starfall.com (this is a free on line phonics program!)

www.homeschoolshare.com/index_lapbooks_master_list.php
(choose a topic from the free master list of lap books! Real hands on stuff!) Lap booking is like scrap booking where kids cut, colour and paste into a lap book (file) as a project on any topic of their interest          
www.learnoutloud.com (free audio books)
 www.toddler-activities-at-home.com
www.homeschool-curriculum-for-life.com (great support and help from a South African

Zimbabwe Home school Support group: 
If you live in Zimbabwe and you need more support and you would like to meet up with other families, or perhaps you are just wanting to learn more and ask questions, please feel free to join our home school education Yahoo group! The link is below.
 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/zimhomeschool
 

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