How To Homeschool: Our First Week Experience

 

Our decision to homeschool did not receive the warmest of reception by all of our closest friends. Our immediate family (parents) supported or choice, while others scoffed at thought of us becoming teachers, with no formal teaching degree. Even when we showed them the curriculum and explained the steps, we were met with ignoring responses or just the good old “oh, okay.”. I guess it’s better to say nothing if you can’t say anything nice. Essentially we celebrated this special decision with ourselves.

Did it make us a little conscious of our decision? Yes.
Do we regret it? Not one bit.

 

Coincidentally, a video from the motivational speaker Prince Ea found it’s way on to my feed shortly after we had gotten all the paperwork finalized. It beautifully put in to words how we felt about traditional schooling, you can watch it here. The thing is, in addition to wanting to explore more together as a family, we were not satisfied with the stress that traditional school comes with, which you can read more about in my previous post Why We’ve Decided to Homeschool Our Kid(s). There’s clearly an issue if the second leading cause of death with children ages 10-14 is suicide.

As for his social needs, we are connecting with other homeschooling and world schooling families as well as his extra-curricular activities.

Now for how we got started with homeschooling/Worldschooling. We are currently in the state of California, so we had to follow California law and file the correct paperwork to declare Brian officially enrolled in a homeschooling program. There are a couple ways to do this, but we decided to go with a private school that handles the administrative work and follows up on the legalities but allows us too choose our own curriculum and schedule. It cost us a total of $400 to enroll into the private umbrella school.

The curriculum we use is Time4Learning.  While it isn’t perfect, we are very satisfied with the curriculum and it’s pacing (self-paced). We are also able to adjust the lesson planner. We supplement extra science with a third grade level textbook that we found online. For Language Arts we also supplement personally picked poems to critically assess together, this week it was Langston Hughes’ I, Too, America. If there are ever things we feel we need to work more on, we can just pause on the computer and use notebooks, a whiteboard, etc. to further dissect a subject.

Time management. My husband and I agreed that 4.5 hours a day/4 days a week is what would work best. We try to start anywhere from 8am-10am. We break up “school time” in 1-hour to 1-hour and a half increments. We’ve found the best way to go about this is to set a block of 5-6 hours aside to commit to his schoolwork. So we don’t have specific times or blocks for each subject (ie: at 2pm-3pm we will work on social studies) we just get what we have to get done. If we notice his focus is off we step away from the work take 10-15 minutes to shake it out and jump back in.

 

I keep a log of his daily work which and add very detailed notes. I specify what was taught/learned for each subject area. If we feel he needs more work in an area we spend the first 15 minutes during that subject time revisiting until we feel it’s mastered, if it’s a broad subject or a subject that will take time we note how much time was spent on it for that day and continue on with no “due date”. The great part is that we can move on when we feel it’s mastered, and if we get behind it’s okay because it’s all self-paced.

As mentioned above we are keeping it at 4 days a week, Monday-Thursday, However, because of labor day we concluded our week today, Friday. We rounded the week off with a nature walk field trip on the backside of Runyon. We plan to do 2-3 physical activity/nature walk/field trips more often. Next week, we will start implementing more of the arts into our curriculum and integrate it with social studies and language arts. I won’t be doing weekly updates but perhaps every month or few I’ll update everyone on our experiences thus far.

Choosing to Homeschool our kid(s)

image1 2What comes to mind when you think of a homeschooling family? A religious cult-like family that wants to teach creationism and argues against evolution? Maybe it’s some hippie non-vaccinating family that’s going to dance around trees and sing about mother Earth while burning sage, perhaps it’s something else. Our family is nowhere near that. We are for one, not at all religious (though we respect everyone’s own decisions to follow a religion –as long as it does not harm or hurt people or the planet) and  yes, we vaccinate our children. We are world schoolers.

We never thought we’d be homeschoolers. But we’ve talked about it for years, and finally settled on going through with it this school year. My husband and I are fortunate enough to own and operate a business that gives us a lot of flexibility. I also work a part-time job that allows me to be flexible and put a lot of money towards our savings to see the world together (should I blog about this?). So for someone working a 9-5, homeschooling probably wouldn’t be as of much interest nor as manageable (not saying it’s impossible, just less likely).
worldschoolingWe found traditional schooling to be problematic for our family. For one, our son was bullied a lot. We teach socio-emotional understanding in our home so we allow him to cry, we dissect emotions, and discuss feelings. We don’t want to breed toxic masculinity, but that’s another topic for another day. Even in the most progressive, project based, public charter in Los Angeles, we found that bullying was something other parents weren’t bothering to prevent in their own homes. There were kids using slurs and saying things like “you’re gay” towards our child (who hasn’t even specified his attraction preference) which we also weren’t fans of hearing. I know what some people are saying while reading this— “why didn’t you just toughen him up?” We definitely teach him to stand up for himself and if someone hits him first (never initiate) you fight back! But we still didn’t care for the environment traditional schooling offered. Another thing we experienced is even with two teachers in the class room, our son still performed better with 1-on-1 teaching, actually…most students do. The most frustrating part about traditional schooling (public schools) is that students were treated more as a barter item for money than they were actual people. It was more about attendance for LAUSD to get money than it was about how my child is taking information in. There are complaints from parents across the country, and while that is a more complex topic I’m glad we no longer have to worry about it.

untitled (1 of 1)-18One of the biggest reasons we’ve decided to homeschool our son is because of the way things are taught. Here we have this beautiful, multi-racial boy, who’s learning about white American history. As a woman of color and first generation immigrant to the U.S. I know next to nothing about my own history. I wish I had gotten more of a global understanding of the world too. Also, as many parents can attest to common core is the most frustrating and idiotic thing on the planet as a base curriculum for students.  So why not private school? Private school still mandates a 9-5 style structure. While the education is said to be better, the 20k/year could be going towards experiences that can better educate a child. Not to mention the lack of socio-economic diversity. While it’s great to aspire having children who go to the school with the rich kids, thus proving you too are rich, we’d rather have our kid(s) be conscious of the different socio-economic backgrounds of others and not just one class of people (which also usually tends to be race dominant)

Okay, so what about college and the SAT and ACT. College/University isn’t mandatory for our kids but it is something we highly encourage. We talk about the different universities he could go to, what he could learn, etc. Statistically homeschooled students perform better on Standardized Tests  than students who go to traditional schools. Also, many universities favor and embrace homeschooling because of it’s benefits which you can read about here — Business Insider: Homeschooling to Havard

I will go into the logistics of homeschooling later but I am so excited to share our family’s newest adventure with you all and can’t wait to share more!