Help! I’m Homeschooling and I Just Can’t Stop!

Does this sound like you? If your kids have ever said to you, “School’s out now, Mom (or Dad) – stop explaining everything,” then this might be you. Or, if you’ve just been to your 15th curricula fair and come home with three or four new resources that you might use, this could be you, too.

Homeschoolers fall into an unusual category of educators. They tend to be passionate about what they do, and they tend to be constant learners. But that doesn’t always mean that they have a book in hand or that they are studying something. It does mean that they think a lot. They think a lot about the “how” and the “why” of things, or even the “what if” of things. Homeschooling requires that you are already doing things a little bit differently so the next logical step is to keep looking for other new and different things to be doing. No one is standing over their shoulders requiring a certain textbook or curricula or even daily schedule, so the homeschooler can do things differently from others, and they usually do.

Homeschoolers also tend to be gatherers of information. They may purchase four different tools on how to teach writing, but they will collect this information, review it, consider the strengths of each tool, and then amend the process to create a new one. Having lots of information at their disposal helps to make this easier, so homeschoolers like to gather new books, review lots of different perspectives on learning, and so on. This makes them natural researchers.

Homeschoolers also tend to be a bit more independent. That is not to say that they don’t care what you think about them or their children, or even their homeschool success, but it does mean that they will keep doing it anyway, even if you think less of them. They are independent enough to apply their own understanding of their family’s needs and to then make what may seem like “risky” decisions on their behalf. In most cases, when taken seriously and combined with the thinking and gathering already described, the result isn’t risky at all, but rather efficient, valuable, and profoundly rewarding.

So if you are a homeschooler who “just can’t stop” what you are doing, then regularly review that you are doing it well. Be sure to keep the passions for education burning, just as they were in the beginning when you first started to homeschool. Be sure to continue looking for new ways to do things and always ask, “Why?” or “What’s the benefit here?” And finally, never fear that what you are doing is detrimental to your child’s welfare if you are taking your role seriously, following the state or local district’s guidelines, and using rich, academically rigorous and broad curricula that sets a solid foundation for your child’s academic potential and growth.

It’s okay to be teaching all the time because in one way or another, homeschoolers tend to be learning all the time!

Homeschool Curriculum Packages – Do You Need Them?

Finding the right homeschool curriculum package for your child can be daunting, especially if you are new to homeschooling. You may mistakenly believe that just because private and public schools use a formal curriculum, you should also do the same for your homeschooled child.

Families who are new to homeschooling often start by using a complete curriculum package. If you do this, you will quickly find out that the workload or structure can be overwhelming. To avoid burnout, you will have to experiment with different teaching methods and find out which method is best suited to your child’s learning style. Keep in mind that as a homeschooling parent, you have many curriculum to choose from.

Curriculum packages contain everything you need to start schooling at home. Your package can contain books, study sheets, teacher guides, tests and activities. Report cards may also be included. Some homeschool programs require completed work to be mailed to an assigned teacher who will correct and grade your child’s work. Accredited homeschool programs keep transcripts, and a diploma may be given when the program is completed.

There are many providers of homeschool curriculum packages, including A Beka Correspondence Program, Calvert School, Oak Meadow School, Sonlight Curriculum and Seton Home Study School. In general, they provide programs from kindergarten through grade 12. The curriculum package includes all materials needed for the school year. Prices range from $500 to about $2,000.

Homeschool packages offer many advantages. A full curriculum package is very helpful for parents who are new to homeschooling. There are also packaged curricula with a Christian perspective. This kind of package is ideal for families who want to include religion in their children’s education. A full curriculum package provides the structure, legal requirements as well as reporting requirements that you may be looking for in a homeschool program.

One major disadvantage with these packages is that they can be quite expensive. In addition, satisfaction levels vary. It is also possible that your child may resist the program’s teaching method or structure. Additionally, homeschooling requires a lot of time and new homeschooling parents may be overwhelmed by the amount of work involved.

In general, parents choose homeschool curriculum packages that use teaching methods similar to the way they were taught. They are often wary of homeschool programs that offer flexibility and imagination. Unfortunately, highly structured programs often result in burnouts. It is best to choose a program that makes learning fun while providing everything you will need to educate a student for the entire year.

Public Schools “Dumping” on Homeschoolers?

In an online publication of the Houston Chronicle, a recent article on homeschooling should have stirred up the frustration of all of those who try to homeschool with integrity and purpose. Homeschooling has been increasing in number over the last years, annually in Texas at about 7 percent per year according to this same article, and yet in this article, homeschoolers were given one more hurdle to overcome in attempts to gain public acceptance and validation of their educational methods. According to this report, it would now seem that homeschoolers must also combat the “dumping” of students into this educational path who may, or may not, have the same motivations or passions with regard to homeschooling.

What this does to homeschooling, if true, is to create a portion of the homeschooling population whose final outcome, graduation rates, college acceptance rates, etc., may prove to tear down the validity of the methods. It cannot be understated that homeschooling requires a great commitment and energy level to be done effectively. Homeschooling is a constant process and those who wish to undertake homeschooling need to be intentional about choices in curricula, schedules, graduation standards, and overall accountability to a vision and goal. Without these personal convictions, it is far too difficult to stay on track and become distracted, leaving the student without the skills or opportunities for their future that they’ll need.

If, as Tim Lambert, President of the Texas Home School Coalition says, this “dumping” of students is a result of public schools trying to rid themselves of problem students, and an underlying cause to the shifting numbers away from public education, then it becomes increasingly more important for homeschoolers to take their roles seriously. It is incumbent on those who are homeschooling because of their passion for this method of instruction and training to do it well.

If you are homeschooling because you love the process of directly affecting the academic and personal growth of your children, then be sure that you are using a bona fide curriculum. Take steps to organize and maintain your diploma awarding plan of action – courses needed to meet state standards, civic responsibilities, personal growth expectations, etc. – and get the counsel that you need to effectively get it all done.

If you are homeschooling because the public school could not deal with your child – get help! Homeschooling can afford many unique and personalized options for your child, but it requires diligence. It requires constant attention. It requires accountability. Done well, the rewards are immeasurable, but done poorly, we all suffer.

I encourage you to read the article yourself, entitled “Home-school Is So Popular Some Getting Suspicious.” (Radcliffe, Jennifer. “Home-school Is So Popular Some Getting Suspicious.” Chron.com 10 May 2010: n. pag. Web. 11 May 2010. ( http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6999109.html. ) When you have, take action. Do your job well, and do your job with the future of homeschooling in mind!