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Adjusting to Homeschooling
Q: I want to homeschool my daughter, who will be entering the fifth grade. She has relatives who are homeschooled, and has been very interested in homeschooling herself. How will it affect her?
A: My first suggestion would be to read a few good books about homeschooling. The Homeschooling Book of Answers by Linda Dobson and The Homeschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith are gems that cover just about everything on homeschooling. Keep in mind that learning at home will be a big change for your daughter. Allow her ample time to make the adjustment. This can take anywhere from a few months to a year. In school, children are taught to do what they're told and basically have each day mapped out for them. It takes a while for the newly homeschooled child to discover their learning style and become a self-directed learner. Talk with your daughter and decide what your goals and objectives are for the coming year. Keep your expectations modest, but have three or four non-negotiable areas. For instance, math and spelling must be completed each morning. A daily journal must be kept or perhaps if she plays an instrument, an appropriate practice-time must be kept. We have a large dry-erase board with the date and a list of requirements and "optionals" for the day. My daughters know and understand they are required to do a certain amount of "formal" work, and when that's complete, they have the freedom to explore other activities on their own. Rarely do they do more than an hour or so of formal learning each day.
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Isabel Shaw is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom of 15 years. She and her husband Ray homeschool their two daughters, Jessica and Amanda. Besides being a contributor to FamilyEducation.com, Shaw has written for Home Education Magazine, The Link, Homeschooling Horizons Magazine, The Homeschool Gazette, and other publications.