As the school year progresses, interest in homeschooling rises among parents of gifted children. I receive calls from frantic parents. They don't want to go to school. They're refusing to do their school work. They're bored. They're not learning anything. They're capable of so much more. Their teacher won't differentiate. The spark in our children's eyes begin to fade as they sit in a classroom day after day learning material they already know. It's painful to watch. Often, this is the moment at which a parent decides to give homeschooling a whirl.
It can't be that hard. It can't be worse. They're already ahead. If I don't have an education plan for now, that is okay. We'll start homeschooling in the fall. Let's give them a mental health vacation. There's only a few months left to school anyways. They wouldn't be learning anything there either.
Unfortunately, it really can get worse. Thankfully, there are plenty of families that home school successfully. Here are 5 DO's and DON'Ts to help you start a successful homeschooling journey.
1. DON'T start until you have a plan.
DO - Plan, plan, and plan some more!
There's seriously no such thing as too much planning. School might be boring and frustrating, however, the only thing that could possibly be worse is to pull your kid out of school only to let them watch TV and play Minecraft all day! The more days, months, and years that your child spends watching TV, playing Minecraft and withering their days away, the harder it will be to jump start a true homeschooling routine later on. Your child might be brilliant but that doesn't mean their brain should take an unlimited vacation.
I LOVE spreadsheets. You can use them for practically anything -- especially for planning your homeschooling venture. Set goals. Do you plan on homeschooling until your child is ready for college? until high school? Set learning outcomes. What do you want them to learn during this time? What do they want to learn? What do they NEED to learn? List all of the standards, objectives and topics that you want to cover. Then, use another column to identify how you will meet this objective. Are they going to take an online class? What institution? What is the cost? When will they take it? How long does it take to enroll? Will they take a class at a local center? Will you hire a tutor? Will they study independently? If so, what material will they use to study? How will you assess their learning?
Plan. Plan. Plan.
2. DON'T assume you have to do everything.
DO - Find other resources. Lots of resources.
3. DON'T think that it will be easy.
DO - Take a deep breath and --- Plan!
4. DON'T try to replicate the school schedule and environment.
DO - Figure out what your child needs and wants.
It doesn't really matter what your reason is. You don't have to replicate the school schedule and/or environment. That's the beauty of home schooling. The school day doesn't have to run for 6 hours straight Monday - Friday. You don't need to study every subject every day. You can integrate subjects -- why not study the history of vaccines as part of your science program? Why not dip your toes into some finance while you study The Great Depression? Field trip to the history museum? Liberty Science Center? Does your child love to cook? Why not study the science of cooking? If you're going on vacation, you can study the history, geography and culture of your vacation spot! When you home school, the world becomes your school. Use it.
5. DON'T go overboard.
DO - Plan and Make Choices.
There are SO many cool activities out there for kids. Ice skating, art classes, yoga classes, outdoor adventure clubs, homeschooling meetups, a surplus of field trip ideas, karate classes, circus classes, music classes, sports -- you name it, there's someone out there that is willing to charge you for it! Your child doesn't have to do everything. Scratch that, they shouldn't do everything! They'll be exhausted. You'll be exhausted. Homeschooling will quickly become a drag. You'll be a professional chauffeur and there will be little time for learning. Whilst these activities can certainly be educational, or at the very least enrich your child's education, you don't need to do it all. You certainly don't have to do it all right now. Don't stretch yourself, or your children, too thin.