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Why I love homeschooling and hybrid schooling as much as I do

As this calendar year draws to a close, my appreciation for homeschooling and hybrid schooling (a mix of school at home and outsourced classes)  keeps growing.  As new students attend classes at Learn Beyond The Book, I feel so grateful for the opportunities we have, especially where we live.  An individualized education for each kid is possible!  It takes work, but so do most things that is worth anything in life.

Here are some things I love most about homeschooling/hybrid schooling:

  1. Kids can learn at their own pace and in their own style!

Everyone is so different!  As adults, we all know it, accept it, and even appreciate that about each other, but in schools there is so much pressure to conform to a certain standard and all at the same age.  When you homeschool or do hybrid schooling, you can truly customize education!  Then it’s not a one-size-fits-all education, but a have-it-your-way education!   It’s the way of the future!

If you, for example, feel that your child is advanced in Math, you can put them in the skill level class that you feel they need to be in by either getting the curriculum for that level or attending a skills-based Math class at Learn Beyond The Book or signing up for some sessions with a great tutor.  If you feel they’re a little behind in Reading, there is a class for every level.  If they’re really interested in Science, there is a class for that as well!  Homeschooled kids are so used to kids of all ages that they don’t even bat an eye if an older or younger child is in their class or on their level.  We always stress in all our classes at Learn Beyond The Book that you can only know something if you’ve learned it, so we make sure no-one ever has any comments like “You don’t know that?!”  That way every class remains a safe learning environment for everyone to be in, on an emotional level as well as academically.

On the other hand, if your child is extremely interested in Technology, why not build their education around their interest? Why not sign them up for a Minecraft Science Modules class if they are a Minecraft fan, or help them learn how to program their own Video Games?  If they love History, focus most of their learning around their interest and see their love for learning blossom!!  We love to provide all these different kinds of classes to homeschooled kids so that they can excel in their areas of interest.

 

  1. Homeschooled kids, especially as they get older, have more time to themselves  – no unnecessary busy work and homework that leads nowhere. Teens tend to know themselves better, because they have more time to focus on what drives them and what they like to do when no-one is telling them what to do.  This leads them to discover what their passion in life is or just what they enjoy doing and it could lead to a future career.  When some of my children were in high school, they took a lot of community college courses and even with a pretty full load they still had hours more per week to themselves than their public school peers.

What did they do with their time?  The one spent hours a day practicing singing in the band he was in, then moved on to spending hours on a flight simulator and starting to read airplane manuals, watching countless documentaries, reading books about people he admired, which all lead him to his desire to study Aerospace Engineering.  The other spent hours a day playing video games and hanging out on Skype with his friends after learning some special effects video editing, with which he has earned some money and he developed his art.   Then he dabbled in Filmmaking classes, learned all about lighting, editing, Photoshop, multimedia art, and more at the local community colleges. Now he studies concept design for the entertainment industry and uses, as he told me the other day, every single thing he ever delved into, even the map building software that was linked to a videogame he loved as a teen.  The focus was not on getting him to stop playing video games, because that would’ve been futile, but to make sure that he doesn’t just play but use it in some creative way, which I asked him to do every day at some point and he usually happily did that, because it was still linked to his big love of games.  He has now learned within days a complicated game development software and started building his own game while using his own concept design art for it, using all the skills he acquired in that time when many might have thought he was just wasting his time on games.  One interest leads to another and as long as we are helping to guide things to a healthy place, eventually they find who they really are.  If they are told constantly what to do and when, they barely know who they are, end up with years in college for a degree they aren’t that interested in and thousands of dollars in debt later, they end up in a career that they don’t love and when midlife hits, there is a crisis.

 

  1. The fact that homeschooled students have more free time than kids in traditional schools usually also allows them more time to spend with family and friends and as a result they develop really deep and meaningful relationships that often last a lifetime. Bonds between siblings are very close if nurtured properly by the parents, because they spend a lot of time together.  They are also often a little less influenced by what their typical teen peers and society would think is “cool” and enjoy simple wonderful things in life.  Because they are used to being around their parents and other adults, they appreciate parents more than most school kids who are gone from their parents for almost all productive hours of the day.  As they grow, it often becomes more important for them to have a little more independent time with friends, which is when nurturing classes and group social events come in handy (like the ones at Learn Beyond The Book), because they have healthy interactions with friends with the guidance of a compassionate facilitator.  All this make for kids who are socially very well adjusted because they are so used to interacting with all different ages from adults to younger kids with the mixed ages of families, classes, parkdays and social events.  They aren’t just used to interacting with their exact age peers.  As the excellent movie, ‘Class Dismissed’ put it, there is no need to group kids “by date of manufacture”.  I love that term!

In our classes at Learn Beyond The Book, all students are treated with the same respect we would give an adult, so all their opinions are treated as valuable and it makes such a big difference in how they perceive themselves and their fellow students, no matter what the age.

I can keep talking for much longer, but these are my top three reasons for loving homeschooling and hybrid schooling as much as I do!  More in my next blog, thanks for reading!

Why homeschool parents want to quit and why they don’t have to – part 4

As I’ve discussed in previous blogs, there are many reasons why homeschool parents think of giving up, but today I want to give you the final two in this series accompanied by some possible solutions.

 

• I’m not patient enough to do this

Although it is true that some people have a more patient disposition without even trying, a lot of people will be much more patient if they put themselves in their children’s shoes. I challenge every homeschooling parent to learn a skill they are not familiar with especially one that is hard for them, to feel the inadequate feeling that comes with that.

I recently started to learn the flute and even though I already read music, it was not easy at all and I was just imagining how hard it must be if someone doesn’t even read music yet. It gave me even more patience for kids just learning a new language or Math concepts. A lot of the time, especially learning those skills, it seems crazy how often the kids forget the facts they’ve learned and knew perfectly the day or week before, but it has not been cemented in their brains yet if they forgot it. I used to think my kids were just lazy and not trying their best until I learned how much repetition it takes to make it second nature in our minds.

 

Possible solutions:

– Don’t accept that you’re not patient as a character trait, but work on becoming more patient by e.g. learning something new yourself and/or thinking from the child’s perspective

– If you have a particularly hard time staying patient with a certain topic, consider a tutor or other teacher. We are most impatient in the subjects that we’re really good at, because to us it is already like second nature and way too obvious, so it’s hard to be patient with someone who might have a harder time with it.

 

• I’m worried they don’t have enough friends

The question about socialization is a big one amongst non-homeschoolers and often brought up to try to persuade homeschoolers that they really aren’t doing a good thing. However, if you have a concern about your child’s social group, there are many ways to solve it.

 

Possible solutions:

– Get more involved with your local homeschool groups. Join a Meetup or other homeschool support groups in your area.

– Enroll in some classes where your students will meet others and see them on a regular basis.

– Make socializing a priority and take initiative setting up playdates or hang out times.

New to homeschooling… where do I start!?

I’m homeschooling… I have no idea where to start! HELP!

First of all, congratulations on deciding to take a pro-active approach towards your children’s education. Secondly, I know how scary this can feel, much like you felt the first time your oldest child was put into your arms and you had to start parenting and had no idea what you were doing. As you look back, I’m sure you, like most parents, would’ve told your younger self to relax and enjoy it as much as possible. You really CAN do this! You’ve successfully taught them to walk and talk, and you can take it the rest of the way! You are not alone and there are great resources available, more now than ever before.

In this article I would like to guide you a little on where to start with some practical tips to make the process move along a little smoother.

1. In another article about where to start, I listed some steps to consider, but here are some more.

2. Join as many local support groups as you can find and know where to find information for local homeschooling. Then start attending some of the events and field trips to get connected.

For Santa Clarita, that is easy, because we have a lot of support out here and hundreds, if not thousands, of homeschool families. There are TONS of social activities and if you hook up here, you will find out about all of them.

Here are some links to get you started:

http://www.meetup.com/Santa-Clarita-Homeschoolers-and-Hybrid-Schoolers/

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Homeschooling_Explorers/

http://www.learnbeyondthebook.com/articleslinks.htm

http://www.examiner.com/homeschooling-in-los-angeles/elmarie-hyman

3. Attend a homeschool information meeting where you can ask questions and get some basic homeschool information – there is one about once a month and details about it is available on the LearnBeyondTheBook.com website

4. Read “how to” books about homeschooling.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Discover Your Child’s Learning Style by Maria-emma Willis, ISBN 978-0761520139

The Three R’s by Ruth Beechick, ISBN 978-0880620741

Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto, ISBN 978-0865714489

How Children Learn by John Holt, ISBN 978-0201484045

101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy, ISBN 978-0929320151

The Teenage Liberation Handbook ISBN 978-0962959172

5. Attend a local park day and listen to all the veteran moms talk about curriculum and classes and ask your questions. Most likely someone else has the same question or has used that curriculum before that you have a question about. You can talk while your children will form important friendship bonds with the other kids.

6. Attend your first Used Curriculum Sale – these are always in the summer months, the next one coming up July 26. It’s a great time to look at curriculum hands-on before purchasing it and the prices are a fraction of the cost of new curriculum. Definitely go to one of these before buying new curriculum if possible.

7. Go to your local teacher’s store. They have great workbooks, educational toys and games, and school supplies. You can find these at Learn Beyond The Book’s store that is open every Monday – Thursday 12:30-4:30pm (see more details at SCVBeyondBooks.com)

8. Attend your first curriculum fair/convention. These usually also occur during the summer months. They provide lots of great talks and discussions where you can learn more. If you missed it this year, don’t worry, they happen every year.

9. Like the Learn Beyond The Book page on Facebook. Our Facebook page provides inspiration, current news, homeschool humor, and lots more and it’s LOCAL!

10. Familiarize yourself with the California Homeschool Network (CHN) website where you can find answers to questions about if it is legal to homeschool and tons more information. It is also great to refer friends and family to, if needed.

11. Take a look at the California Department of Education website if you are wondering about standards and what would be covered in different grades in a public school.

12. Decide if you are going to file your own PSA or if you are going to register with a charter school. Feel free to read my other article about charter schools so that you can get a better understanding what that involves. If you decide on a charter school, make sure to apply ASAP.

13. ENJOY your children and being together as a family!