The pandemic has re-shaped many aspects of daily life, causing some parents to consider homeschooling their children this fall, according to Natalie Mack, co-president of Belvoir Home Educators.
To address the growing interest, BHE conducted a virtual panel discussion of first steps for interested parents, June 2. Mack said the Fairfax County deadline for parents to file intent to homeschool is Aug. 15, using the Fairfax County Public Schools form at https://bit.ly/Homeschool_Intent.
Choose your style
BHE member Shelly Harmer said the first step is to choose your style, before deciding on a curriculum, determining your family and child’s needs.
“Start by figuring out why you want to homeschool, and what your family hopes to gain from it,” said Harmer. Adding your child’s learning style will guide your subsequent choices.
“What kind of learner is your child? Whether auditory, visual, kinesthetic, or tactile, they need unit studies that fit that style, and it’s all individual, so tailor it to your child’s needs,” she said.
Harmer outlined the most popular styles:
Online can range from public school online to full curriculum offered online with video lessons or live teachers available. (K-12)
Unit Studies incorporates multiple subjects using one theme. The theme can be a historical event, holiday, location, even a person. For example, math problems may have to do with apples, then the science class discusses how an apple grows, and literature would be about Johnny Appleseed.
Classical is based on a three-part process: grammar, logic and rhetoric. This is language-based, rather than hands-on or video based.
Charlotte Mason uses ‘living books.’Children are whole people who need to understand the world around them. It focuses on nature, literature, art and music.
Eclectic isn’t limited to one style or method; it borrows from many different styles to create a tailor-made homeschool for the family. It’s not as concerned with hitting milestones as much as the experience of gaining a well-rounded education.
Unschool is a completely child-led method of schooling; you take their lead on what they may be interested in at the moment.
Pick a curriculum
After deciding the style, it is easier to choose a curriculum, Harmer said, though flexibility is hallmark of homeschool success.
“Nine times out of 10, the curriculum you start with will not be the one you end with,” said Harmer. “Flexibility is key – everyone is different and that’s the beauty of homeschooling.”
Many homeschool planners are available online, which help with organizing dates and creating master and monthly calendars. Riley said there are also pages for setting overall and individual goals, adding it helps to revisit those goals at least twice a year.
“Most of the time, I don’t write out what will be happening, but instead use it to log what was studied. This gives you flexibility to study around unexpected events,” Riley said.
“For the first couple weeks of school, it helps to practice behavioral expectations more than academics,” said Mack, noting many parents get frustrated with behavior when they try to dive straight into academics. “You must show respect, and you have to learn to navigate when you are a parent and when you are a teacher.”
Belvoir’s School Liaison Office can help parents with homeschooling resources and can be reached via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.