Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Deschool? (what is it and why do it?) and How much does homeschooling cost?

Often new homeschoolers are told to or asked if they deschooled. What's that?  Deschooling is what I consider a must if your pulling your kids out of public school no matter how old the kids are. Deschooling does a couple of things. It gives the kids a chance to decompress after leaving public school. It gives you and them a chance to find your own natural routine, learn to be together again on a day to day basis. It basically means, don't jump right into doing school at home the day after you bring them home from public school. Give them a vacation at home, let him "detox" from the public school system and let them just hang with  you for a while. So how long are you supposed to do "deschooling"? Depends on how long your kids have bee in Public school. The longer they've been in the school system the longer they need to get out of the public school mindset. Let them re-establish their own natural curiosity for the world around them.  It may not be as obvious as the kids coming up to you and saying "Gee, Mom. I'm bored, can we do school?". It might start with them coming up to you and asking what a word means, or a "What makes the leaves turn color in the fall?" type of question (and yes, you can take that small simple question and turn it into a short study/talk/science experiment or what have you). Before you know if (and more importantly before THEY know it) your off learning all kinds of new stuff and your now homeschooling.
The other thing lots of us get asked is "how much does it cost to homeschool?". Well, that's a little trickier to answer. It really does depend on how much YOU want to spend. Can you do it for very little, yep. Or you can make it as expensive as you want to. There are lots of different options and some of it will depend on WHY you have decided to homeschool. If your just wanting them out of the public brick and mortar school due to behavior issues (either your childs or someone elses) than a good jump of point MIGHT be a free online public charter school such as Connections Academy, or K12. You can also see if a small school district in your state offers a distance learning program as well. They may help those who want to homeschool but aren't to sure where to start, what they want to do etc. (still deschool between leaving one and starting the other!) They may or may not be free and available in your state. You'll need to make up your own mind if these type of "schools" are better or not depending on your own viewpoints. There are a lot of free options online as well with out actually entering them into a Public or charter school (you can see at least a few options in the Curriculum tab above). Some offer Christian or other religious viewpoints others are secular and you can teach you own religious view point (or lack there of :)  ).
You can do a boxed curriculum where everything is laid out for you or buy books by the subject. The only thing I generally warn new homeschoolers against is going out and spending a ton of money on any curriculum. I don't know how many times I've run across someone who says they paid xx amount of dollars for x curriculum because they just knew they'd love it, only to find out once they got it home that it was a horrible match for their lifestyle or their children's best learning style, and in some cases it was just so dry and boring they couldn't get through it without tears, yelling matches, and frustration for both the parent and the child. If your not sure how you child learns the best you can read up on different learning styles while your child is deschooling, very seldom is it just one learning style, but a combination with one learning style being more pronounced.
There are other free options as well, individual websites depending on your subject or topic. Some are extremely fun! you can see some under the cool/fun/educational tab above as well.
The first year is a learning process for both you and your kids, you may start something only to find it just doesn't work for  you. You may find that trying to do school first thing in the morning doesn't work for you as well as working in the early afternoon or even after dinner.  You may find that once you get started you lean toward one philosophy or the other, or you may find that it changes as you go along. The first you is also frustrating, scary, difficult and well all of them rolled into one. You may have moments when you wonder what you were thinking to pull them out of public school and if you should send them back. You may find that you knew all along that homeschooling would be fun and a life experience for everyone involved or you might worry that you have multiple kids at multiple levels and a new baby and how on earth are you going to get everything done in a day! (psst, many of us CAN'T get everything done in a day. we just choose which things need to be done THAT day).