Often freedom is mistakenly perceived as being without bounds of any type. An absence of any bounds is anarchy and chaos which is neither productive nor realistic. True freedom allows individual choice and the pursuit of goals set by the individual. That sort of freedom is the aim of every home educator.
One great tool that creates freedom within our home schools is a schedule. Like a budget, a schedule is simply a framework. A budget guides money spending; a schedule guides time spending. It allows the parent and student to visualize what needs to be accomplished each week–and make adjustments as life happens. It is so freeing to make decisions based on rightly-determined priorities without stockpiling a to-do list that will drown you in the future.
Setting up a schedule is not terribly time-consuming. Once the curriculums for the year have been chosen, simply calculate the page numbers of each text and divide by the days (or the weeks) in your school year. A weekly review helps you evaluate progress and make adjustments as the year unrolls. Some students prefer to do every subject, every day; others prefer to vary their school week. Help your students assume responsibility for making the scheduling decisions as they get older–but help them be realistic and keep them accountable. Great lessons in goal-setting, perseverance and the joy of success come with this simple aspect of the home school lifestyle.
Home education is not freedom without constraint. As home educators we desire to be free from the control of government-determined goals and curriculums. We desire to be free to educate our children in the manner suited to them and in accordance with the demands they will face in the future. A schedule or program of education is a tremendous asset in accomplishing home education goals.
Writing does not have to be a chore–although our students often think it is. Reliance on spell-check and electronic communication is a reality–but not a full-time necessity. Pulling in some creative, fun projects is an easy thing to do! If you are careful in the presentation, they might not even know they are ‘doing school.‘
Children especially love to receive notes and cards. Pen pals are an old-fashioned idea with great potential. Explore a foreign country and culture by locating a pen pal online. Encourage a bit of history learning with ‘interview’ letters to aged family members (or friends). Very young children who are learning to read and write will enjoy exchanging notes with you! A little mailbox created for a doorway is a great way to encourage reading and writing. Leave a note each day for one another. If you have a particularly artistic student, taking the handwriting challenge up a level to calligraphy cards may appeal sometimes. Other times, cards made with cut-out letters are a way to keep the writing projects fresh and fun.
A favorite writing project in our past was called “Thankful Thursday.” Each week the children chose someone to send a card to and tell them they were thankful for something about that person. The recipients were pleasantly surprised and the children practiced penmanship, grammar and kindness!
As the children grow in ability, cards can grow into longer projects. Stories sometimes simply flow from their hearts and pencils. You will enjoy the illustrations as much as the stories! A journal that is not corrected for grammar is a useful tool. Simply writing helps the children know they can write. Grammar and punctuation can wait for the curriculum if you choose. As stories and projects increase in size, the logic of utilizing computers enters the picture. (Cards and letters do not have to leave the picture though!)
Online writing contests and forums are a great motivation when the natural desire to tell stories begins to wane. Competitions, passion-specific projects (e.g. Mustang Horses) and writing websites are tools to keep our children learning to communicate. Even in a world of texting, the ability to string sentences together remains a priority and hand-written notes are a treasure easily given.
One of the first questions everyone has about home education involves the law. Every state has different regulations. Learning the basics and staying current with proposed legislation is advisable. The pioneers of home education literally risked the removal of their children to pursue home education. Despite the fact that home school statistics show great results for students, some countries still make it very difficult to pursue non-traditional education. Following is general information on the laws in your state. Obtaining copies of the regulations, joining a home school group and/or a legal advocacy organization such as Homeschool Legal Defense Fund or Homeschool Legal Advantage are personal decisions each family must make.
Georgia law requires compulsory attendance at school for children between six and sixteen. The education program is to cover (at least) the basics such as reading, language arts, math, social studies and science for 180 days per year. School days must extend for at least four and one-half hours.
A written notice of intent to home school is to be submitted by September 1st of each year (or within 30 days of beginning a home education program). The notice must include student names and ages, the school year dates and the location of the study program. Attendance records are to be kept and submitted each year to the GA Dept. of Education. Annual progress reports are to be written for each subject (for each child) and kept by the parent for three years.
Home schools include only children of the parent or guardian. Tutors may be employed to teach if they hold a GED or high school diploma. The same requirement (GED or high school diploma) is in place for teaching parents. School superintendents may request (but not require) evidence of compliance with regulations.
Nationally standardized tests are required every three years beginning at the completion of third grade. Tests are to be administered in accordance with those who have experience with norm referenced tests. Tests scores are to be kept by parents and not submitted to public school authorities.
That is a basic rundown of the current Georgia Home Education laws. Don’t be afraid of the requirements. They are simple relative to other states. It is quite easy to start homeschooling in Georgia!
Are you wondering if homeschooling might be the lifestyle for your family? Does the appeal of nurturing the flames of learning in your child, speak loudly to you? Maybe the frustration of seeing your child’s special gifts (or needs) being overlooked edges you toward the leap of home education. The speakers of Homeschooling 101 bring years of experience to bear on all of your questions. Answering those heart-wearying questions about socialization, patience and how-to opens the conference day. Understanding curriculum options, nurturing preschoolers into a lifetime love of learning and accepting your limitations are all part of the day.
Homeschooling for Excellence 101 helps questioning parents flesh out a plan for their family. In a small group, personal setting questions and concerns are answered by experienced homeschooling mothers. Children ages four and up have a workshop option of their own: KidsZone. While you explore home education, your young ones will explore fun learning with folks who share a love of learning and children! The lifestyle of home education knits the hearts of families together in a very unique way. If you would like to know more about this incredible opportunity for education, make time to attend the Homeschooling 101 conference at the Homeschool Expo! This one-day conference takes place one day before the Expo and provides admission for the entire Expo weekend.
Do you have a “Vision” for your home school? It is important. Vision draws us forward when life bogs us down. Every home school parent knows there are tough days that sometimes drag into tough weeks. Vision is the Light that will beckon in the wearying seasons. In fact, a right Vision becomes a Legacy Light! Do you remember singing this song with your children?
“Be careful little eyes what you see,
For the Father up above is looking down in love,
Oh, be careful little eyes what you see.”
The beauty of teaching young ones is that those lessons are the ones we often forget to practice ourselves. Teaching is a great reminder to implement! It is a pathetically simple truth that we see what we look at. When we allow our eyes to be drawn to difficulties or shortcomings (in ourselves or others), our eyes become filled with the negativity.
This life, this endeavor of intensive parenting we call home schooling, is an assignment that demands a vision. Vision is sometimes defined as “a clear, concise and compelling picture of what the future can be.” What is the vision you have for your children, for yourself, for your family? Is it a God-given vision that trumpets out truth like Jeremiah 29:11?
‘I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and give you hope.’?
Or it is a vision infiltrated with personal striving and fear of failure?
We struggle to remember that faith is the substance of what we do NOT see. Sometimes as home educators, our eyes see only incomplete curriculum, hectic schedules and friction in our relationships. The illusion of the ‘perfect’ home school family taunts us with our imperfections. Those are the times we need to sing the childhood rhyme again and look to our Vision.
The intensity of home school life gives us a great opportunity to model ‘eye placement. ‘As parents, when we diligently look toward God (instead of relying on our strengths or fearing our weaknesses), we teach a vital lesson to your children. We teach–by example–the key to living victoriously is living in the Light of Christ. Truly, there is no greater joy than having our children walk in Truth. Keep your eyes on Truth!