Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Advice About Curriculum & Socialization From Yours Truly

Ok, so I know I've only been at this whole Homeschool thing a short time, and am not really in a position to be giving too much advice...but I seemed to have gotten myself into this one. Carolyn over at Guilt Free Homeschooling was asking on her Facebook Feed for Mom's from all over the U.S. to sign up with her if we were willing to answer questions from parents in our area. I let her know that I was pretty new myself, but I would be willing to answer some questions the best way I could. Little did I know 2 days later I would be presented with a question about Curriculum AND Socialization! From an experienced teacher- no less!!

I thought I would share it all on my blog just in case my non-expert advice could possibly be helpful to anyone else considering Homeschooling.

Hi! I have a 3 year old and really want to home school him. I taught in public schools for 15 years, and left when I couldn't find good day-cares and because my heart was really with my son.

How did you go about selecting a curriculum? What are you doing about socialization (something that scares my husband).

Thanks for offering your insight!!!

My Answer:
I think that's great that you are looking into homeschool. It has been a real blessing to me and my family. I was one of THOSE Mom's who thought I could never homeschool, but this has been the best decision I could have ever made.

That is the beauty of Homeschool, we can tailor education to fit our own families and go at our own pace.
Since you're a teacher, I'm sure you may know some or most of what I'm going to say here already, but....
Since your son is so young, it is a great time to observe him and find out his learning style! Encourage his interests, and give him a rich learning environment. Kids are natural learners and always inquisitive.

You may want to research the different methods of homeschool before researching curriculum. (It can all be OVERWHELMING!)
In the past year I've learned that Home Education is more of a spectrum than anything else. It ranges from very structured Traditional (or "school at home") on one end to Radical Unschooling on the other end. (Unschooling isn't as bad as it sounds either. It mainly means organic learning.) There is literally anything and everything in between and some of it works better for some kids and maybe not so good with others. You have to learn what works with your family. None of us are the same.
The methods I know about are: Traditional, Unit Studies, Relaxed, Eclectic, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Unschooling, and Radical Unschooling.
Then after you do some soul searching to figure out what "your" philosophy "really" is, it is easier to find curriculum to meet those needs. I would recommend at the very least picking and choosing curriculum and resources individually instead of buying a boxed curriculum. (You're teaching one child, not an entire classroom.) Even some of the curriculum I've found for homeschool has been written more for larger groups of kids. There are also TONS of online resources- a lot of them are free. Curriculum is just a tool and not something that has to be done for the sake of doing it- so I just picked things that I felt "fit" our family.

For my son less structure and more freedom works best. (If I was the one being homeschooled it would be the opposite- I'm a textbook nerd. lol) I've learned that some kids do well with discovery learning . My son is a very hands on learner so I try to find things that will fit his style. He tunes out textbookish things, but will soak in things like a sponge that are interactive or audio/visual, or best of all self initiated research projects. He has always "just known things" that no one taught him.

Since I'm with him all the time and we're not doing High School, we're not really doing grades for now, except for the end of the year assessment that we have to do for State requirements. My "new" philosophy is that grades in Elementary and Middle school are more for the parents to know how the kids are doing. He was never motivated by grades in school, so his grades were up and down all the time. Yet, he always exceeded standards on the CRCT. So, I had pretty much learned by 3rd grade with him grades were not a good indicator of whether or not he was learning.

My son may be a special case because he did NOT do well socially in school. (My nephew on the other hand does just fine) At first my son did "okay". But he was different than most of the other kids. He's very smart and articulate, but he's socially awkward and somewhat slow to warm up. At first the socialization he got at school was alright, but as the years went on it became more negative than positive. He was getting picked on for his differences and was learning that it was ok to get bullied, because the bullies usually didn't get caught. The social pressure and all the pressure the teachers and student are under these days to adhere to the standards instead of just teaching and learning like they used to brought out all kinds of behavior problems by the time my son reached 5 th grade when I pulled him out. (Nothing at all against the teachers- its the politics)

I was worried about socialization too when I first pulled him out, but I had to remove him from the awful situation that 5th grade had become. Since then, I've learned that kids don't have to be in a room all day with kids the same age to get social interaction. For the most part (besides PE or Recess) there isn't much time for real "free" social interaction anyway in school, because the kids are doing their lessons and are needed to be quiet and pay attention. At my son's school, they even had silent lunch for the most part.

There are a lot of ways to find social interaction when you are homeschooling!

Face to Face: Boy Scouts, Lego Clubs, Sports, 4-H, Church, or any other things that your child is interested in. Kids get social interaction by just getting out in the real world and meeting other adults too. I know of some mothers that live in rural areas and don't have many homeschool kids to hook up with. They take the kids around to small businesses regularly where they get to know the owners and other frequent patrons. There are also a lot of Homeschool co-ops in most areas that meet at regular times to do lessons or field trips with their kids.

Then there's online social interaction: Online games that are child safe (for kids who are a little older) such as Club Penguin, Roblox, and Minecraft to name a few.

My son is introverted (like me) so he really prefers the online socialization. He does have friends that he made in Public School that he is still in contact with, and he sees his cousins regularly. My husband is an extreme extrovert so they go a lot of places together and meet new people. We're finding more and more ways to give him social interaction as time goes on.

Don't forget about socialization for yourself too! You can find a plethora other Homeschooling Mom's on Facebook and through blogs. There is a list of homeschool blogs at

I hope this helps. (I didn't mean to be so long winded.) I'd be happy to answer any other questions!
Ok, seasoned Mom's...How did I do? Do you have anything to add?


  1. Thank you! I was worried....she did email me back to thank me for my honesty about the socialization thing. She said that's what she felt in her heart.


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