I was partly “homeschooled” by my mom. She believed that I should learn Chinese. However, in my country during that time, we had to choose either going to an English school or Chinese school full-time. The term “homeschool” never appeared where I grew up. One day we had a new neighbor, a family from Taiwan. The mom was a former school teacher from Taiwan. We got to know our new neighbor, and she introduced my mom to a correspondence school in Taiwan. My mom enrolled me in the program. So, instead of going to a full-time Chinese school to study all the different subjects, my mom homeschooled me (all my with going to school) until she found an evening Chinese school where she sent me later. It wasn’t easy, as she worked during the day. However, with her love and enthusiasm, I tried my very best to finish my school work during the day, and then after dinner and weekends to study in another “school.”
When my daughter was born, a friend asked me this question, “Will you be sending your daughter to the academy?” My answer was, “I haven’t had any plans, but at present my plan is to homeschool my daughter.” As she was growing up, I kept getting similar questions from families and relatives. Some would tell me that since I only had one child, it would be good to send her to the academy so she would be able to socialize. The words went in one ear and out the other! Before my daughter was born, my husband and I had already planned that we would homeschool as long as we could.
Homeschooling is not an easy task whether there’s only one child or more than one. It takes time to prepare and plan, budget, and meet deadlines. The journey can be long or short. Lots of time is put in, and sometimes there may be tears and frustration. There’s one thing that I especially like: the bonding between my child and me. There are other things that I am thankful for. Here are some tips I’ve gained through personal experience that I would like to share.
Planning/Time – It takes time to plan. Set aside some time before the end of the school year to start planning for the new school year. You may want to do unit studies, plan field trips or holidays. It is good to have in mind what curriculum you want to use or if you want a change. It also depends on the grade of your child. Will there be any other activities like swim, soccer, music or classes? Friends can be of great help. I am thankful to have wonderful friends who share ideas and experiences with certain books/curriculum. Thanks in part to the SDA Homeschool Families blog and Facebook group, I have learned a lot along the way. Talk with your EF if you are with a chartered homeschool. Attend a homeschool convention or fair to get some ideas and see what’s out there. There are lots of offers out there. It is okay to say “no” so you don’t get overwhelmed with too many things. However, it is good to have an open mind. Plan out how you want your schedule to be like. Each child works differently. Don’t compare or compete with another child. In some families, there may be a special needs child who might need extra time. If you are working, you might want to use the time in the evening or afternoon to teach, or maybe the weekends. During the day, your child can work on the things that he/she can do. At the end, it is up to you to make the decision best suit you. Finances can be a burden for some. It is also good to set up financial planning in the family. Books can be expensive. Some lessons like music or tutoring can come to quite a bit. Work out what is needed or can wait. Set priorities. And, don’t forget to PRAY and ask the Lord to guide you.
Support – It is not easy to do it alone. Join a support group (many thanks to the homeschool site on Facebook) so you will not be alone. Don’t be afraid to ask. There are many times I have not been sure of some curriculum or have had some questions in my mind. I have asked my friends, and you will find there are many who are willing to share with you their journey of homeschooling. Don’t let doubt conquer you.
Curriculum – Choose what suits you best. Unit studies, publishers, classical/literature based, etc. I like looking through different publishers to see what is out there. I enjoy reading comments by others (but keep an open mind). Some may enjoy certain publishers that others do not. Don’t let this pressure or stress you. Take time to look through. If you have friends who have the curriculum, you might want to ask if you can look through so you have an idea on what to expect. Book fairs or conventions are a good place to go. Check out the websites of different programs and curriculums.
Socialization – When I was homeschooling my daughter, I had friends or relatives coming to me saying that my child needed socialization. I think my child has lots of socialization — play groups, field trips, Sabbath School, church, VBS, Pathfinders/Adventures, gatherings, moms’ network… If some of this is not available, you might want to plan a play group, tea party, book club, or outing. Sometimes, time may be a problem, but if you can plan ahead of time and let your friends know, it can be worked out. It doesn’t have to be in your home (so you won’t have to spend time cleaning and preparing). You can have it at the park if weather permits. There are some areas where there are co-ops. That’s another way to start off. Participate in some volunteer work if your child is old enough, or take them along when you go for volunteer work.
Field Trips – You can plan your own or join other homeschool groups. I always look out for what is out there to offer. Many places like museums, theme parks, or companies have what is called “homeschool day” or educational field trips. They set aside a day of the week for homeschoolers. Some may be free. There are some where you might need to get a small group or pay a small fee. I love looking for free homeschool days. Plan ahead so that you can add that as a family outing. Implement it as a field trip so when the child comes home, he/she can write a report on their trip and what they have learned. Places like the missions, zoos, or science museum can be part of their studies in science or social studies. The beach is a good place if there are tide pools, or the aquarium where they learn about marine life. Check out county fairs too. Some county fairs have projects where your child can participate, like arts or crafts.
Chores – In between studies, add some chores like housekeeping, laundry, and cooking. If the child is old enough to help, have them help out. Add that to home economics. Have the child learn to prepare the meal for the family (even if it does not taste good, praise him/her for the work done and give positive input so there can be improvement) or teach them to bake. Have them help you when you are cooking or baking. The younger one can help with washing the fruits or vegetables, setting the dinner table, or sorting laundry. Take them grocery shopping and add math into it, like calculating how much items are. Use math for baking too.
Hobbies – In between studies, get into some hobbies. It can be cooking, baking, gardening, sewing, crafts, etc. Gardening is fun. When they see the flowers blooming, or the tomatoes and vegetables are ready for harvest, there is joy. Some places do have homeschool fairs where the kids get to exhibit their crafts or sell them. If there’s plentiful of harvest, you can share it with other families, or have the children earn their own pocket money by selling to friends/families.
Finally, being a homeschool parent is not easy. It can be difficult and stressful. Some of us may teaching our children at home, in Sabbath School, and/or in Pathfinders/Adventurers. But, trust in the Lord and pray. Toward the end of each school year, I look back and am thankful. I may not be perfect or complete everything I wanted or planned to do for the year. However, I find a great REWARD and JOY as each school year comes to the end. Here are some of things I see, hear, or experience:
- Bonding with my child
- Watching her/him grow and learn
- Learning together with her/him
- Lots of laughter
- Some failures (like when the cake did not turn out as we wanted, the seed that we put in the ground never sprouted, field trips has to be cancelled due to a cold/flu or rain or something pops up the last minute, school work did not meet the deadline, etc.)
- Family time together
- No rushing early in the morning for the school bus
- Hearing the child say, “I get to do my school work in my pajamas,” or “Yay, no schoolwork today. We are going to the museum!”
- I get some “off” days during weekdays