I feel a bit silly sending this post but I would really appreciate any guidance at this point in our journey.
We received our exemption to homeschool at the end of last term and are planning to start at the end of these holidays. Both my children (8 and 6 years old) were very keen to homeschool and my youngest is a much happier child knowing that this change has been made. My oldest son had a very good term at school last term (after a bad year last year) and is now very ambivalent about now having to leave school and I am starting to othink he may just be doing this now because he knows it is what mom and dad think is best (and to be honest I have moments where I am filled with fear and not sure if we have made the right decision!!).
I am a trained primary teacher and am used to being very well organised in terms of my curriculum planning etc and I have researched and read so many books about homeschooling (mostly philosophy rather than concrete practical!) but am finding myself lying awake at night panicking (spelling?!) as I just dont know where to begin!! I understand the need to find our way, our own style and follow their interests - but their interests (science, engineering, maths) are not my natural strengths which makes me lose my confidence already! And what do I DO? What topic do I start with? How can I prepare? Can I prepare ahead as I am not confident enough flying by the seat of my pants just yet!
To make matters worse, my in-laws arrive to stay with us for 6 weeks only a week after we are to "start" homeschooling and I feel an enormous amount of self-imposed pressure to be doing something concrete and constructive with the boys each day when they are staying in our house to show them that I am capable of doing this (yes I know it's not actually supposed to be about me but these are my husband's parents!) and that it will work and we are not crazy for taking our children out of a school system that seems to be good enough for everyone else!!!
I would be so grateful for any practical guidance and advice on how to make this a positive and successful experience for my boys and myself!
Start where you feel most confident, I think if you start anywhere else you will begin with anxiety and may well find you don't enjoy this most enjoyable process.
How about unit studies, what topic can you pick for both the children that you can then plan around, it doesn't have to be maths time and spelling time but incorporate that. What out of home activities can you tap into, we go to art class, drama class, etc out of the home as they are not my strengths as well as attending workshops at the museum.
Do you have a strong homeschooling network where you are, we do in the Waikato and they have great activities and resources that you can tap into.
You don't have to do this on your own, the homeschooling community are supportive and well resourced.
There are books such as the Start Right series that you can get online from ESA publications or through whitcoulls etc that provide structure if you want to begin like that intiially and then once you get the rhythm can take more of a lead yourself, I used them initially to get an idea of what is required to cover and extended on them.
Thanks you so much for your reply and your great suggestions. We are about to move to Cambridge in 2 weeks time from Auckland so I am thrilled to hear that there is a strong network in Waikato. I remember looking at a Start Right book in the Te Awamutu Paper Plus and liking the structure of it, at least until I feel more confident- I will look online at ESA publications.
Start with deschooling (1 month for each year spent in school)ie act as if it was school holidays. During that time keep a diary of what you and the children get up to. Then go through the diary and note all the English, maths, science etc.
Sign up to lots of email loops (have a look at Yahoo)and just 'listen in' ie read but no necessarily ask questions.Join your local home ed group and go on trips etc. Find some good websites and facebook pages eg http://www.facebook.com/pages/Auckland-Home-Educators/267032586652993?sk=wall
Read lots and see what other people are doing. Most of all trust that your children will learn because it's a natural thing to do.
Tell the in laws you're doing an observational study/assessment before starting or just say you're having an extended holiday.
Just remember they are ONLY 6 & 8!! Many homeschoolers don't even start teaching until about age 8 and many education philosophies also believe that children are not ready to learn until about age 8. I agree with Anita and Elsie - let you and your children warm into it gradually. So often new homeschoolers run at it 100miles per hour and then burn out extremely quickly. This is our 5th year homeschooling and I still have occasions where I wonder whether I am doing it right, or doing the right thing by my children (they are almost 12 and 10). Considering you are moving and having extras staying, this is going to be a very busy and potentially stressful time for you and your family. Don't add to that stress by holding yourself up to a standard you have little chance of achieving at this time. Be gentle on yourself!! You will not be an effective (or loving) teacher if you are stressed and tired. Also remember that homeschooling is not school at home. We have tried all sorts including unschooling and have found that for our family a timetable does work best so that we all know what we're doing and there are no surprises. However we have chopped and changed the way we work many times over the past few years and obviously as the children grow and learn, you have to change the way you teach in order to be the most effective.
I suggest you take the time to get yourselves settled into the new area. Have the children keep diaries (not necesarily all writing, but could include pictures, maps, photos etc) off the moving etc. Explore your new surroundings, draw maps, learn about compass points etc. Visit information places and compile a list of places you want to see. Think outside the square and most importantly - have fun!! Take the time to be a family and re-aquaint (spelling??) yourself with your kids! Good luck and keep us informed with how you're going!
You've got some great advice from Elsie, Anita and Rebecca. We're only just starting out on our own homeschooling journey (for our nearly 5 year old daughter) so we too are finding our way.
I'm drawn to many of the principles of unschooling (and, just in case you wanted to read (another!) book, you might like 'Unschooling Rules' by Clark Aldrich). My own philosophy fits with Anita's and Rebecca's - we don't want to replicate 'school at home'. That said, I'm working on achieving a balance between some loosely structured learning activities and unschooling time. Also, and I say this respectfully, I wonder if an unschooling approach may be a tad more challenging for you initially (mindful of your training as a teacher). It could even perhaps be worth 'unschooling' yourself too...? :)
If, in time, you decide you'd feel comfortable with some sort of structure, especially for maths and English, there's a plethora of curricula out there (as you'll undoubtedly already know!). We're using RightStart for Maths and Moving Beyond the Page for English/ Science etc - both work very well for gifted, curious young minds.
And finally, taking it easy and being kind to yourself and your children (especially at a time of change) sounds like great advice.