Welcome back to my Homeschooling Made Simple series, where we are hearing from homeschooling bloggers to learn their tips and tricks and advice for newbies.
Today I'm very excited to welcome Marnie from Carrots Are Orange I love Marnie's Montessori-inspired blog and have learned so much from her knowledge and training, implementing many of her ideas into my own household. Take it away, Marnie!
I never imagined that I would home school my children. I grew up in Maine, and, well, here is honesty for you: homeschoolers in Maine came with a reputation. They were seen as rural “bumpkins” and “different” from the rest of us. Most homeschoolers in Maine were homeschooled because of the rural factor but I am sure, with the recent homeschooling trends that circumstances have changed since my growing up in the 80s.
For me, I want to home school to have a bit more control over out lifestyle, not over my children’s education per se. I could find a good option for them outside of our home, and maybe that will happen. For now, though we want to embrace the flexibility that comes with homeschooling. The ability to educate my sons by going on excursions, traveling whenever we want and being outdoors a lot is why we chose to home school. No judgments. No criticisms.
Here is the deal: beginning the home school journey is daunting. Here are a few of my tips for us beginners:
Think About the Space
Do you want your school to be in your home living space? In the play space? In a separate area designated for learning? I have a play and learning space Pinterest board filled with ideas on how to build out a homeschool space.
Set a budget and be comfortable with it
Homeschooling doesn't have to break the bank, but it does require a significant financial commitment. The way I look at it is like this: what would I be paying a preschool? That amount is certainly enough to equip us for the year. So come up with your number and build out your preschool. I have written a post on this topic: Homeschool on a Budget. There are ways to be frugal and homeschool.
Manage the Household
Integrate chores into your schedule from the start. Let your children know the time when you need a half and hour to get the house together and get them involved in helping. My 3.5 year old knows how to do the laundry. My first boyfriend in college had no idea how to do the laundry. You get my point.
Research Homeschool Curiculum
We chose Montessori as a base because the philosophy resonated with us, our desires for our family, home and children. With that said, we’ve integrated others like Waldorf, Reggio and Nature Immersion in an a la carte way. Don’t feel you have to adhere to any one curriculum. Again, this piece-meal approach is the beauty of a home school curriculum. So find your base, your foundation and go from there.
Create Your School Mission and Name
I know it sounds corny but go for it. It is a mindset. To be honest, we have not created a mission and name yet but it is on my list.
Create a Rough Schedule but be Flexible
Don’t worry about a schedule for children younger than six years old. Developmentally speaking, children will learn from unstructured play. In Montessori, this means that they are given liberty to work/play but within a well planned environment. So, I don't let my boys run around wild but if they take an activity in another, unexpected direction, I go with it. At this age, be organic as you possible can…and that means having a “schedule” but with wide parameters.
Go on Excursions
Hands on Learning is best. Check out this amazing resource of field trips all around the country. You will be surprised, too, at the businesses that will open up their “behind the scenes” to your children and their learning. What a great experience to be able to visit a Recycling Plant and get a personal tour!
Read Genny Upton’s ABC’s of Preschool Homeschool
Connect on Hip Homeschool Moms
This site is a great way to connect with homeschooling families from all over. They have special features across a variety of topics. Plus you will meet great people who will offer support on your journey.
Go Easy on Yourself
Take a break. Don’t fret too much. Know that your children are going to benefit hugely from your decision to homeschool. Have faith in that thought.
More is less
Remember more is less. Simplicity Parenting and Schooling. Purge and rotate.
Marnie writes at Carrots Are Orange, a Montessori inspired homeschooling blog she started in 2010 after the birth of her first son. She hails from Maine, a wonderfully down to earth place to grow up. Marnie moved to the west coast in 1999, currently living in Seattle with her husband and two young boys. She is pursuing Montessori certification. Marnie can be found on Facebook, Twitter @OrangeCarrots, Pinterest and Google +.