Accidentally Homeschooling

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When I tell folks that I am Homeschooling my kiddos, I usually get one of two responses:

  1. Bless your heart, I could never do THAT.
  2. I’m thinking of doing that, but ALL. THESE. QUESTIONS…

Trust me, Mama, I never thought I’d be starting Homeschooling. I thought it was something reserved for Certifiably-Crazy-Vigilante-Hyper-Organized-Save-the-World-We’re-Better-Than-You type people (TRANSLATION: NOT me). I was really looking forward to my kids starting “regular school.” After all, I had Mom Goals like wearing workout clothes to actually workout, peeing alone, and strolling through Target with a latte. For hours.

But a funny thing happened after Preschool. I put on my Big Girl Panties and did something really, really brave. I started Homeschooling.

I know. It’s CRAZY. I tried to talk myself out of it a zillion times. I was 100% convinced that I’d screw up my kids for LIFE.

Naturally, I questioned every Homeschooling family I could find. I was on a mission to find an excuse to not Homeschool. And I failed. As it turns out, Homeschoolers weren’t at all what I thought they were.  They weren’t socially awkward weirdos. They didn’t believe they were superior. They were totally normal. In fact, they reminded me of my own family.

They are my people.

So, I jumped in to the Homeschooling world and haven’t looked back. I love the flexibility of it all, which allows us to learn on the fly. At a desk. In the park. At the beach. In the swagger wagon (aka: minivan). Frankly, the thought of Homeschooling is still overwhelming, so my philosophy is simply to do it until it doesn’t work.homeschooling

Here’s the quick and dirty on what helped me.  {Just in case you’re thinking about dusting off your Big Girl Panties, too. ESPECIALLY these days…}

1. Ask LOTS of questions. Remember that you don’t need formal teaching experience, and you don’t have to be a Mom. Dads and Grandparents do this. It’s different for everyone. Our homeschool community is so diverse and incredible that I guarantee someone can help you find the answer to any question you have!

2. Get an umbrella. [School, that is]. These offer support to homeschooling families. A few popular options are: HomeLife Academy, Faith Heritage, The Farm, and Gateway.  HomeLife Academy has been hosting informational sessions weekly, and you can find more details on their Facebook page. You can also file an intent to Homeschool (free!) through your school district.

3. Get support. Join a support group to connect! Charlotte Mason Memphis, DeSoto County Homeschool Support Group For All (secular), Harvest Homeschool Moms Support Group, Homeschoolers of Memphis Eclectic, Memphis Area Homeschool Education Association (MHEA), Tipton County Christian Homeschoolers, Working Homeschool Mom Club are a few. The Teach Them Diligently Conference is also an excellent resource.

4. Connect online.  Hip Homeschool MomsHomeschool Roster, Homeschooling Now Support Group, Memphis Area Homeschool Buzz, Proverbs 226, and Tennessee Homeschool Support, are terrific Facebook resources. We use Facebook for learning, too! Science Mom, Supercharged Science, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, and Memphis Zoo are some of our favorites. I love that we are now seeing homeschool groups with a unique focus, like Bridging Diversity Homeschool Group of Memphis and Homeschooling with Netflix, as well as more virtual field trip options!

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5. Read. Susan Wise Bauer’s Well Trained Mind is a classic starting point. I also enjoyed “The Way They Learn” by Cynthia Tobias. If you have a favorite, please drop it in the comments – I’d love to see what inspires you!

6. Be too legit to quit. Learn what you need to do legally. Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and Tennessee Home Education Association (THEA) both have great info. Not in Tennessee? Here’s your link.

7. Get in style. There are many approaches to Homeschooling. Here’s a fantastic quiz to help you identify your style(s).

8. Shop for curriculum. Used curriculum sales are lifesavers! Don’t be afraid to mix and match, especially if your child’s strengths are imbalanced. Homeschool groups are a great place to ask questions about curriculum, buy/sell resources, and learn about requirements. I use Christianbook, Rainbow Resource, resale book sites (e.g., AbeBooks, Thriftbooks), local sales, and the library for our curriculum.

PRO TIP: Educators have a higher book limit (50 versus 25 at my library) for library book checkout. Ask at your next library visit!

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9. Look into “co ops” (collaborative learning opportunities for Homeschoolers). Some focus on core areas, while others focus on enrichment topics. Memphis Homeschool Enrichment Coop, and Flight Homeschool Program, are two options, but there are many others. Most have Open House days to help you gauge fit.

10. Outsource Locally. Here’s a secret: You don’t have to do everything. There are lots of resources to help support you, whether you need help with one subject (hello, High School Chemistry!) or several. Here’s a list of a few wonderful local options: Anchor Academy, Anchor Point Academy, Bellevue Tutorial, The Bridge, Classical Conversations, The Connection Homeschool Tutorial, Cordova Tutorial, Finer Things Workshops, Horizon Homeschooling, and Veritas. You can even outsource Foreign Language and PE classes!

11. Outsource Online. There are oodles of online resources to help you out, Mama! Here are just a few: Easy Peasy, Freckle, Khan Academy, Monarch, Switched on Schoolhouse, Time4Learning. You can also supplement subjects, such as foreign language, typing, or reading. In addition, there are lots of fun options to learn by interest (e.g., BrainPop, Outschool). You can even use music – we love Brain Beats songs!

Homeschooling is all about fit – getting started is the hardest part. You might even screw up (confession: we all have!).

Who knows? You might just find yourself homeschooling ON PURPOSE; Bless Your Heart.

Let’s hear it, homeschool families: What’s your favorite homeschool resource or piece of advice?

 

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Jeanie is a perfectly imperfect mama, transplanted to Cordova fresh out of graduate school. She and her husband, Matt, had no intent on making Memphis “home” – but ten years later, they’re still here (and love it!). They have three saucy gingers, along with three “fur babies”. Between homeschooling and chairing graduate Psychology departments online, life is never boring in the Whinghter house. It’s no surprise that Jeanie fancies coffee, but she also loves bargain shopping and embarrassing her children with her questionable singing/dancing skills. She’s had more #PinterestFails that she can count and has perfected the art of giving a good pep talk (watch out, puberty!). Motherhood has slowly transformed her into the “uncool” Mom she thought she’d never be, yet she’s never felt cooler or more content with her life.

8 COMMENTS

  1. 🙂 I didn’t accidentally start homeschooling back in 1997, it was with real intent to rescue my children who were about to fall through public school cracks. The resources and recommendations you list are great. I would add the book, The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias. It was an eye opener to me and I’ve constantly referred back to what I learned from it. An additional note would be that different states have different requirements. Know your state’s laws. For example, Mississippi does not require an umbrella school, a certain number of education hours or subjects, or a particular school calendar. 19 years and counting……

    • Thanks for sharing these tips, Tommie! These are great in helping folks get started with the sometimes daunting world of homeschooling. It is very encouraging to read that you’ve made it 19 years (and counting)! What did you find most challenging?

  2. The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart and The Call of The Wild and Free by Ainsley Arment are both amazing resources for homeschoolers and focus on the idea that homeschooling is not school-at-home! I also love The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease and the Read Aloud Revival podcast for amazing book lists and data on the benefits of reading aloud to kids of all ages.

    • Thanks so much for sharing these, Jamie! I love the idea that homeschooling is not school-at-home… that’s so true!

  3. Such a great article- I have used this for all my New to Homeschooling classes this year- Great links. I would caution new Homeschoolers that some of the outsource online links would be considered supplemental rather than a full program, and that some of them are best for lower grades and some for upper grades. Thank you for all the work you put into this!

  4. Thank you for the comment, Shannon! We’ve loved these resources, but we do not rely on them as primary sources; we integrate them as support for our curriculum. I appreciate you noting that for our readers.

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