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Takara's Homeschool Tips, Ideas , & Advice for a Better Home School Education

I've homeschooled my son, Jess, for the past 7 years. During that time, I've tried a lot of things and talked to many other homeschool parents about what works and what does not work with their children.



Takara's Tips and Ideas for a Better Homeschool Education

The following advice and tips are in no particular order:

1. Learning Styles: Everyone has a predominant way of learning. It will not necessarily be the same from child to child even within the same household. A curriculum, or way of teaching, that works well for one child may not work at all for another. Keep that in mind when choosing your materials. Visit this link as one way to identify how your children learns best: http://literacyworks.org/mi/intro/index.html

2. Methods of Teaching: Since visual, audio, and hands on learning are the primary formats for teaching, finding a way to do all 3 is often the best way to ensure that the material is not only understood, but retained. The best scenario for my family is to watch a video or movie about the topic, read about in a book of some sort, and then do an activity at home or visit a museum or some other hands-on exhibit.

3. Field Trips. Field trips are a great way to give a 3D lesson about a topic. For kids who are visual or need to touch things, field trips are fabulous.

This link will give you many great field trip suggestions: http://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/field-trips/

4. Spontaneous vs. the Need for a Plan: Some children (and adults) need a clear plan and clear direction. Others do much better when given a goal and left to their own means to figure out how. It's important to know that about yourself and your children. See more comments about this further down the page.

5. People who are kinesthetic, like myself, often need to take notes. It is the act of moving the pencil with the body that "anchors in" the information. Usually they don't even need to re-read the notes. Just the act of taking them is enough. It's possible that doodling could do the same thing. I just prefer to take notes when I am hearing or viewing a lecture about something.

6. Biorhythms: Some people are morning people and others are night people. A morning person is more "on" earlier in the day. A night person is more "on" at a much later time. If you can schedule your most intense education times to match up with the child's normal time of greatest clarity, it will significantly increase how easily they understand the material.

7. Diet: Too much sugar, an unhealthy diet, and food allergies can greatly impact your child's ability to learn. Learn all you can about good nutrition. But remember to follow the 80/20 rule. Try to eat as healthy as possible 80% of the time. Don't sweat the other 20%. And give yourself, and your family, a treat sometimes. Studies show that those who are seriously uptight about what they eat, and therefore get stressed when there is nothing on the menu at a restaurant or a potluck that is normally on their diet, can damage their wellbeing just by the stress and worry. So . . . do the best you can and then just let it go.

8. Great Educational Resources are available everywhere. Many of the good one's online are talked about on the various pages of this website. But don't stop there. Scout out library book sales, homeschool curriculum sales and swaps, yard sales, used book stores, and second hand stores. You will be amazed at the treasures you can find. For early and elementary education, Sam's Club has an amazing amount very reasonably priced gems. Don't forget Amazon and eBay. Sometimes, if you are really lucky, schools give away their old textbooks and other materials. You will think you've struck gold if you come across one of those.

Los Alamos, NM, home of the atomic bomb, homeland security, and and an outrageous number of Ph.D. level scientists has a great school system and a fabulous library. Once a year they open up a warehouse to homeschoolers to take whatever they want from the educational materials being retired. Thousands of textbooks, posters, software programs, you name it, all for free and with no limits. Wouldn't it be a grand thing if other school systems would do the same. *I haven't lived in New Mexico for a couple of years, so I'm not sure if this activity is still going on. I certainly hope so. If you are in New Mexico, join one of the Santa Fe homeschool groups to find out.

9. Feeling like an outcast. Being a homeschool parent suddenly makes you different from 99.9% of the rest of the world. You are doing things differently. Your family is probably living on one income. And you and your children spend night and day together all the time. Depending on where you live, it can feel like you've suddenly entered the Twilight Zone.

People stare strangely at you when you enter the library, the grocery store, or the park with your children during school hours. Friends and family might think you've gone crazy and some get very upset. From total strangers to your own parents, some people feel the need to tell you that "you just aren't doing it right" and at least in the beginning, you will probably wonder if they are right.

It takes great courage to live life on your terms. It takes a deep commitment and great conviction to go against the norm and do what you feel is right for your children ~ despite what others may think.

You no longer seem to fit in. But it's O.K. Because becoming a homeschool parent suddenly gives you a free pass to participate with another tribe where you are accepted and your choices are understood. If you are homeschooling, then you are already a card carrying member.

8.Your new tribe is called homeschoolers and they are everywhere. It might take awhile to find just the right fit. But keep looking because they are out there. And when you find them, you will feel like you have finally found "home."

Homeschool parents and children are some of the most interesting people you will ever meet. Keep in mind, though, that homeschooling is going against the norm. So the people doing it tend to also be delightfully different in their philosophy and ways of looking at life.

10. Homeschoolers are a lot like cowboys. They are all out there doing it their own way. Some of those ways will align with what you believe and what you are doing. And others won't. The best way to find them . . .

11. Join a homeschool group. Most of them are available through yahoo groups. Or type your state name followed by the words HOMESCHOOL GROUPS into Google or another search engine. If you leave off your state and just type in homeschool groups to a search engine you will come across a couple of websites like homeschool.com and home-school.com that claim to have an extensive groups list. I participate in 5 different homeschool groups in Virginia and not one of them is listed on either site. Definitely include the state if you want to find a group.

Whether you just read the posts or get very involved, leading classes and activities, you will find these groups invaluable. They offer a plethora of homeschooling advice and experience. You can find out about what books or programs were useful, how to help your kids stay focused, and enjoy play days, group classes, and field trips. You can also, often, borrow books or be given free one's. Soon, your children will have friends to do activities with. And so will you!

Some of my very best friends in the world are other homeschool parents that I've met through the various homeschool groups and activities that we have participated in over the years.

12. Scheduling with homeschoolers can be frustrating. Like I mentioned earlier, homeschoolers tend to be like cowboys and they do their own thing. The more kids, the more activities, and the harder it becomes to schedule an event, play date, or class. I liken it to herding cats.

When push comes to shove, regardless of what they said they would do, the family will always come first. So, families don't show up for numerous reasons to things you were expecting them to attend. That's just the way it is with homeschoolers. So don't worry about it and definitely don't take it personally.

13. Plan your own events. Depending on the group you find, it may be left to you to plan events and schedule activities. So just do it. Send out a message to the group saying I'm thinking about _____ (you fill in the blank). And then ask if anyone is interested. Once you get some interest, then start proposing dates or times and see who can attend. Or ask them to suggest a better date or time if the one you suggested doesn't work. With homeschoolers', it is practically impossible to find a date and time that will work for everyone. So just do the best you can to accommodate as many as possible. Then let it go.

14. Learning all the time. The beautiful thing about homeschooling is that every moment of every day becomes a learning experience. No matter what topic is being discussed, with a little quick thinking you can turn it into a whole lesson about that topic or another one.

15. Reference Materials. Since lots of things kids learn come from the questions they ask, I like to have lots of reference materials on hand. We have numerous atlases, history books, books of facts like:



What sage advice do you have to offer other homeschool parents?


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