The Homeschooling "Exploration" Period

After you have done your research and decided to homeschool but before you purchase supplies and begin formal homeschooling, set aside six months as an exploration period. This exploration period will allow you and your children to get to know each other better, which is especially important if your children have been in school, and will give your children a chance to get to know themselves better. Financially, this exploration period will save you from spending money on materials you might not really need or use. Instead, you'll use this time to collect educational catalogues and circle the items you think you might want. But don't buy anything yet! After a few months of spending time with your children, you'll have a better idea what their interests are and how they learn best.

Use this exploration period to get to know your community better. Now that you have the time, you and your children can explore museums, take hikes, and put together your own field trips. You'll also have a chance for more reading; you'll be able to read those homeschooling books and magazines you've heard so much about, and your children will be able to read books of their own choosing. This is a rare treat for children who are used to having a teacher tell them what to read. Your children will also have time to make new friends and develop new hobbies. Some parents like the idea of taking an exploration period, but worry that their children will fall behind. They won't. You are not taking time off from learning, you are building a strong foundation for learning-a foundation based on an intimate knowledge of your children and what works best for them. And you will begin your more formal studies knowing that your children are well rested-physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Your children may never have another opportunity like this. Give yourselves this special time to rekindle your passion for life and learning. You will be creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Post the following in a prominent spot in your home during your first year homeschooling:

Homeschooling "Doubt Busters"

  • There are no picture-perfect homeschooling families. There are no picture-perfect homeschooling children, and you are not a picture-perfect parent. There is no such person, so don't try to be one. (The "supermom" syndrome is dead. Good riddance.)

  • Can any teacher be as committed to your child's success as you?

  • You don't have to have a lot of money, a full-time maid (although once-a-week help is nice), a teaching credential, or the patience of Mother Teresa to homeschool your children successfully.

  • Your mother-in-law and other family members will come around. You may be pleasantly surprised that the person in your family who objected the most to your homeschooling your kids can become your biggest supporter.

  • The government is not going to show up at your doorstep and take your kids away if you homeschool them. Just handle the legal issues pertinent to your state and school district when applicable, and relax.

  • The one-on-one attention your child receives at home, even if it is one hour a day, two hours a day, or minutes weaved together throughout the day, far exceeds what he would ever learn in a classroom in a given day.

  • Even if you and your child access tutors, online curricula, and community classes for her homeschool education, you will have a good feel for what she is learning. She will share it with you or you will be right there at her side as she learns. You won't miss a major hole in her education.

  • Homeschoolers have made it! Children who have never stepped foot in a traditional classroom are out in the world, right now, as adults, living successful, fulfilled, purposeful, and, in many cases, extraordinary lives! Homeschooling works.

        Excerpted from: Homeschooling for Success: How Parents can Create a Superior Education for Their Child by Rebecca Kochenderfer and Elizabeth Kanna
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