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Monday, June 25, 2012

How to Homeschool

How to Homeschool
Subtitle: Person who discovers I homeschool:  “Wow, you homeschool? I couldn’t do that...” 
Me: “Dude, I can’t either” 
Step 1: Know why you are homeschooling. It is a personal choice, but for me? I’m going to make this simple.  I am a teacher. I have been a teacher my entire adult life.  I will probably be a teacher until I die.  I know what I am doing.  In fact, MOST teachers know what they are doing.  So, parents, would you be so kind as to inform the government of this fact.  The day that people have that have never step foot inside a classroom stop telling people who have dedicated their entire lives to educating children how to do their job, I will happily trot my children back to the school system.  Until then, I’ve got this covered.   
Step 2: Pick your curriculum.  Believe it or not there are literally hundreds of different ways to homeschool your child, methods, boxed curriculum, writing your own lessons from the SOL tests (SOL actually does not mean S*$t outta luck here, although it should; they are stupid jeopardy-like standardized tests here in VA), etc.  You will need to shop around and see what is best for you. For you. Not that one know it all in your support group.  Just don’t smack her (See my post on 5/7/12).
Step 3: Send in your NOI. Here in the South that means your “Notice of Intent.” All it needs to say is “I will be homeschooling my kids X,Y, & Z this year and they are in grades A,B, & C.” It does NOT need to say “I actually want my kid to learn how to function in the real world and not just be skilled at TV trivia games shows and bubbling in small circles.” Or something of this like.  Simple is good here. 
Step 4: Map out your year.  You NEED a plan.  Trust me.  You need a start date, a finish date, and how far you want to get. And holidays.  I mean, there is a joke that homeschoolers don’t get snow days, etc.  Eh, I give ‘em snow days.  Counts as PE right? 
Step 5: Figure out who teaches what. Ok, so you are probably asking how in the world I do this AND teach full-time.  We tag team between myself, my husband and my mom.  It is GREAT.  My husband has a history degree (yeah, I know, I do too but I just end up going all Daniel Jackson on them and then I start to gush about certain cute celebs and it just goes nowhere, so I let hubby do it) so he’s got that, my mom has a science degree so she covers that and I do math and reading.  We do it all at times that fit around our jobs and it gives the kids multiple teachers. For electives, we take them to homeschool groups. Yeah, with OTHER KIDS.... OOOO.... EVIL.... I LET THEM SEE OTHER PEOPLE.... ;-)
Step 6: Be creative. Homeschooling is not just worksheets, it is field trips, life experiences and hands on learning.  You also might have to teach a bit unconventionally.  For example, my sister is a homeschooled rising senior and I am her math teacher (ok, so I lied about that math thing in an earlier post - sue me). Anyway, before you think I am a bad person for the conversation that follows, she is my SISTER and she is almost an adult: 
Bri: Reading from a textbook: You know that squaring a number and taking the square root of a number are inverse operations.  But how would you evaluate an expression that contains a fractional exponent? 
Mary: Excuse me, what? 
Bri: Sometimes b&*ches have fractions.
Mary: Oh
Bri: And yet that is what made sense to you.  
Think my method is unusual? Well, you should have seen her bust out those radical expressions.  I’m that good... 
Step 7: Socialization. Eep!! It is the buzzword of homeschooling. “Are you worried about socialization?” Uh, no, have you met my kids? They would talk to a wall if they thought the wall would provide worthwhile conversation.  Have you met Hot Roommate? He talks more than me and he’s not even Southern. In fact, as I have mentioned, we Southerns will talk to anyone at anytime, so homeschooling for me is a no brainer. It just means that are actually quiet in class for once.  
Step 8: PE. The second criticism that you will get is what about extracurriculars activities and PE. “Do your kids just stay in the house all day?” Yep, that is EXACTLY what they do.  In fact, they have heavy iron shackles that they wear so that they remain seated when they are not translating he Bible from Ancient Greek to English.  Come on, really? Besides the fact that PE was just invented to make the school day longer and because we have become a country of porkers, my kids get something a lot of schools are cutting out.  They get to PLAY OUTSIDE. What a novel idea!!! AND they still play ball, do yoga and the other things after school hours like every other kid.  
Step 9: Don’t take criticism to heart.  Really, we all worry too darn much about what others think. And the best part is that most of your critics will act like they are suddenly experts in education, overnight, even though they have never interacted with children before other than seeing your when they come over to dinner.  I AM an education professional.  You are just fine.  And if you are really worried, message me/tweet me. It’s cool - I will answer questions about this! 
Step 10:  The wine. Oh lordy you will need it.  I teach all day other peoples kids and mine at night or in between. It is insanity. Once those little boogers are konked in bed I am poised and ready to go, Vino Tinto in mano and Mr. Canadian Hot Pants on the TV.  Because everyone needs an outlet.  I just have two...

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