by Ann Zeise
Dear New Homeschooler,
The real trick to homeschooling is, believe it or not, to forget what “they” have put in place of goals for your child. It is quite obvious to me from your letter that your daughter’s goals for her life are not in sync with the school district’s. Our son at 8 was a depressed and angry little boy when we took him out of school, a far cry from the bright, cheerful little boy I had sent to school a few years before. A few weeks into homeschooling, I had my bright cheerful boy back again!
It is almost impossible to fall “behind” the public schools! Do realize that at school the kids are likely to be on task only two hours a day at most! And like your daughter, many are just good at playing the game, or have stopped playing altogether.
Kids do well at home because:
- They learn and sleep with the same odors in the house!
- they are in a loving situation;
- they are well fed with nutritious foods that they like, using a meal plan you feel is right for their needs;
- they don’t get sick or injured as often and when they do, they can take time to heal;
- they’ve had a full night’s rest;
- they are getting lots of sunshine, which helps retention of new lessons;
- and they are encouraged to learn about things that interest them until the topic is mastered!
Let your daughter take some time to learn to explore her own interests. This may mean disconnecting the TV and the Nintendo for awhile. Take walks, or get out in the woods for some talking. Both of you need to lay out your hopes and dreams to each other and come up with goals and standards that will suit both of you.
Homeschooling is a bit like planning for a long trip. You need to know where you are at (what resources you can pull in, budget, other helpful people, etc.), where you want to go and what you expect to do there; and what you’d like to see and do along the way.
I’ve talked to a girl once who really wanted to be a mountaineer! She was so pleased when I told her that with a little brainstorming she and her mom could come up with a curriculum that would suit her. For example:
- she could read books with plots involving wilderness survival for English;
- she could study first aid and rescue with the American Red Cross for health;
- she could do rock climbing for PE;
- she could study mountain geology and native habitats for science;
- she could connect her math studies with skills needed for navigation or investigating statisticsnecessary for helping preserve wilderness areas.
- For civics she could focus on activities of the Department of the Interior.
- For history, she could focus on all the tales of great explorers.
It may take just a flash of insight to start the brainstorming going, or it may take a month of just being plain bored to tears before your daughter will realize that you really intend for her to create her own life.
You could start with some resource that is close at hand right now. Might be your pet dog or cat. Be a little silly and light for awhile! Read up about penguins or learn all there is to know about ice cream – I have a page about ice cream! A boy I grew up with, “Ricky” Cronk, became the president of Dreyer’s Ice Cream. He’s done quite well! My point being that a person can do quite well if she learns a whole lot about something she really loves.
Steve Wozniak, inventor of the Apple Computer, once said: “Do what you love, and learn to do it very, very well, and some day someone will pay you very, very well to do it for them!”