I have a friend whose 2 young children (ages 8 and 5) have been enrolled in the Georgia K12 online public school for some time.
She sent me an email asking for help. To paraphrase:
“I never thought the day would come when I would say this, but K12 is getting out of hand. They have added too many things, and it’s getting very stressful to try to keep up with it. So I wanted to ask you if possible could you can give me a list of the books you use, because my husband and I have decided to drop it.
HELP!! I know I am always bothering you with all these homeschool questions, sorry.”
My response went something like this:
I don’t blame you. I don’t like the K12 program because it seemed overwhelming, and since the children are technically public schooled, just at home.
I then gave her a list of the books that we use in our school day. Some of those can be found here: Five in a Row and here: How We Do Homeschool History and here: Organize your Homeschool Day with Kanban.
I also shared some tips on how to homeschool cheaply. But that wasn’t really what I wanted to answer. I really wanted to tell her this:
It’s not about the curriculum.
So I did. I went on to say:
We keep it simple and the kids can get all their school work completed in a couple of hours if they hustle.
That leaves the rest of the day for other kinds of learning.
Chores, time outside, reading together, etc… there’s so much learning that takes place in these ordinary activities.
Since we’re not tied to a curriculum we can make adjustments where needed and be flexible. Some days we might check out a few dozen books and just read all day long. Sometimes we watch an educational documentary or movie and discuss it together.
For me homeschooling this way feels like life.
There isn’t a big divide between “school time” and “not school time.”
And it isn’t stressful. Things just blend together.
I think the most important consideration when you’re figuring out “where to start” is to think about the future.
What do you and your husband really want your kids to learn?
It may look very different from what the state requires or what K12 or some other education “expert” says. And that’s ok!
We know our kids best. We know how they learn best, what they’re most interested in, etc. I often think about how people educated their kids before public school was invented. They taught them practical things, and how to read and write well. They taught them a trade, and the rest the kid learned on his own.
The state requires that we spend 4 1/2 hours a day in school, and include: reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science. Don’t discount all that your children learn when you simply talk and worship together.
For example, when the kids and I read a few chapters in Leviticus yesterday we discussed and researched: quarantining, germs/bacteria, rabbits as chewers of the cud, etc. All that is science! The reading and research itself is language arts.
I have the benefit of a little more hindsight because my kids are a little older than yours, and I’ve seen how much they learn and grow with my relaxed homeschooling style.
Caleb has only spent a total of 6 weeks in public school, he’s in 8th grade and all of his schooling has taken place at home with me.
So take a deep breath and relax. Decide what’s really important to you and what you guys want to impart to your kids and work around that.
As for me, I wanted to instill a love of reading and learning with my kids. I always have my nose stuck in a book They’ve definitely picked that up.
I also want to teach them about entrepreneurship and good money management, so that’s part of the curriculum too from time to time. Julien is only 10 but he has a part time business selling on eBay, and he’s learning all sorts of valuable skills that way!
What advice would you add for this mom who is leaving the structure of the K12 program to venture out onto her own homeschool journey?
You might also like:
- Great homeschool books for your library
- First day back to homeschool 2011
- Homeschooling: Letting go of should