Well, here we are! I am going to do my best to empower you to build your own learning plan for your children. It’s a little scary, very exhilarating, and definitely liberating. We’ll start with the beginning. Tomorrow I will get down the nitty-gritty, but first you need a paradigm shift. I promise it won’t hurt!
When I first started homeschooling, I used Ambleside Online exclusively. I did Year 1 and Year 2 without any variation at all. I was new to homeschooling and Charlotte Mason’s ideas, and I lived in a state with a lot of oversight. I was scared! As we were coming upon Year 3, I decided I wasn’t happy with some of the books and I made quite a few changes. I also realized that my son was never going to learn to spell the CM way, so I found Sequential Spelling and added that to our routine. Those were just little steps, but they started me on a path of freedom to choose my own way. I took a lot of inspiration from Karen Andreola. Her books (and I have read them all), gave me courage to realize that as long as I was feeding my kids living books, they would learn. We could be more relaxed and choose a path that followed our own interests a little better. I felt empowered!
So where do you begin? You begin by changing your thought process!
1. Breathe. YOU CAN DO THIS. It’s allowed, really. Who knows your kids better than you do? Who knows better than you what kinds of books they like, how they learn, and what their interests are? The answer is no one! You are the expert on your kids. That makes you qualified to build an education to suit their interests and needs.
2. Step outside the box. The truth is, if you wanted your kids to have a public school education, they would be in public school, right? I believe most of us are homeschooling because we want something more or something different. You have the freedom; the cage is unlocked and the door is WIDE open. Why are you still sitting inside? You do not have to do things the way schools do them! Did you get that part? YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO THINGS THE WAY SCHOOLS DO THEM! There is a mountain of research indicating that humans learn better outside of the traditional classroom model. My point is, stop worrying about state standards and college entrance exams. If that’s what you want, you might as well get off the ride now because you’re here for the wrong reasons. Open your eyes to the possibilities! If you follow your passion for teaching and work to nourish the natural interests and talents of your children, they will be successful in life. Of course, you have to see success as more than a $.
3. Homeschool curriculum writers are just.like.you. Almost all homeschool curriculum was written by homeschooling parents. They don’t have super powers and no, they are not smarter than you. Ok, they are pretty smart folks, but I am willing to bet you are too! What they have in common is a willingness to put in the effort and research it requires to create a learning plan. If you have a similar determination, you will do just fine!
4. Don’t reinvent the wheel. There is more information about homeschooling on the web than ever before. You can find curriculum from hundreds of sites. There are book lists and suggestions everywhere. You are not starting from scratch. Use what others have discovered before you, but don’t get chained down to thinking you must do things a certain way. Remember, the only person putting you in the cage is you! It is ok to order curriculum to help you! I just don’t want you to get frustrated and feel the need to check off every box or follow every guideline. I use a math curriculum because I know that creating one of my own would take a very long time! Could I do it? Probably, but I choose not to. I could spend months creating a spelling program, or I can use one already made. It’s ok to use tools to help you educate, as long as you recognize that they are made to help you, not chain you down.
5. Finding living books is easy! I assume if you regularly read my blog (as a homeschool parent) that you are at least somewhat interested in the Charlotte Mason method. That method is all about living ideas for education, and most often we find those living ideas in what we CMers call “living books.” Now, there are lots of places to find these living books. There are even lists and whole curriculum packs available for use/purchase. Off the top of my head I know about the following: Ambleside Online, Queen Homeschool Supply, Living Books Curriculum, Simply Charlotte Mason, and Beautiful Feet Books. There is nothing wrong with buying ready made packs for teaching…
…if you want to learn to put together your own plan for history, science, literature, poetry, and more – tune in tomorrow!
Oh c’mon! This was already turning into a novella and you know it. Besides, you need time to think about some of this anyway. Changing a thought process is more like slow-cooking than using a microwave. Give it time to stew in your brain. Remember today’s five thoughts: 1. You can do this! 2. You are free! 3. You are no different than those amazing homeschool parents we read about! 4. There are already tools to help you! 5. Living books are everywhere!
Now have another cup of coffee and enjoy your Monday. 😉