Whether a seasoned veteran, or a newcomer to the home school arena, finding just the right information can be a frustrating, overwhelming, and wonderful experience- all at the same time. A wide variety of home schooling methods are liberating, to say the least, but determining which method is exactly right for each student is no easy task. Do you pattern your school after a traditional brick and mortar building, or is the “un-schooling” method more your style? Will your classroom be teacher led, or student led? Will you follow a strict schedule or will creativity be your clock?
While the Internet and the local home school bookstore may look like a field of dreams for the home school family, you will likely come away from the experience nearly broke from the amount of money you’ve forked over, or bleary-eyed and confused with nothing in your hand to show for your effort. Fear not, friend! There are better and easier ways that will leave you confident in your decisions and ready to move forward into home school happiness. Asking your self the right questions in order to narrow the search can save valuable time, money and energy.
First, “Why am I home schooling?” The answer may determine your course of action as many home school resources are categorized by religion, schooling method, or parenting philosophy. For instance, say you decide to home school because you feel that the classical method of teaching is a good fit for you and your students. Look for resources based on that foundation and you’ll bypass the others that will inevitably consume your valuable time. Internet searches on the “classical method of home schooling” net only a fraction of the results that a search on “home school” will get you.
Next, “What outcome am I expecting from home schooling?” Knowing the desired destination helps point you in the right direction. Our own family serves as a great example. I want my children to have a great education, but more importantly, I want them to know what they are able to accomplish in all areas of life. So, for us, it’s not all about academics. It’s also about fitness and nutrition, life long love of learning, and spiritual growth. Look for resources that match your desired outcome. Honest evaluation of what you want as an end result in home schooling serves as a sort of mapquest.com for your trip through school.
Finally, “What kind of time, energy and money am I willing and able to invest in home schooling?” This step is crucial, people! Do not be tempted to say that you are willing to use any and all time, energy, and money that you have. Above all else, be realistic.
Once you have answered these questions, you have a much clearer path to finding the information on home schooling that will actually be helpful rather than making you run screaming like your hair is on fire. Some fantastic resources include local home school groups-start asking around at churches or mom’s groups to find them. Try them all because they all have a little different flavor. You are bound to find a family or two that looks like what you have in mind. When you do, ask them for some time to pick their brains about home schooling. These parents are notoriously candid.
Check your area for home school bookstores full of helpful staff and resources. The Internet is also a great resource, especially now that you have narrowed your search field. If you exhaust your resources and still find yourself lost and confused, try hiring a home school coach. Like a life coach, their job is to help you figure out what you want, where you are going, and how best to get there. Search the Internet for one that seems like a good match for you. Most offer the initial session for a free or reduced price. Most importantly, remember that just like in school, the only stupid question is the one that is left unasked.