June 17, 2015

Transitioning from Public School

Are you just beginning the homeschool journey? Do you have teens or children with attitude and educational issues…? Are you wondering where to start and how to overcome these difficulties? Recently, I read this in an online forum and decided to address this here.

"Our first day of homeschool is tomorrow. I have a 12 year old 7th grade girl, a 10 year old 4th grade boy, and a 7 year old 2nd grade girl. It is my 7th grader that is giving me an ulcer.

I am very concerned about how I am going to motivate and mentor this child. She is fighting me on most everything we discuss. A typical conversation goes like this, "Grace, do you have a book in mind that you would like to start reading tomorrow? Or do you have a subject you are interested in reading about?" She says, "Why?" "Ah, because you are going to need to read and discuss your book with me and eventually you will be in a book club and can discuss your books with other kids. You don't remember when I told you about this a few weeks ago?" She gives me a horrified look. "WHaaaaat?" I am not going to be in a book club. Book clubs are weird. I HATE book clubs. I HATE READING!!!"

If I follow the advice in aTJED [Thomas Jefferson Education], which I desperately want to do, my child will not pick up a book ever, and she will choose subjects like, "Who is Harry Styles?" or….honestly, there isn't even anything else she would be interested in. I am so sorry to sound so down on her, but she is rather shallow. I remember when she was little trying to read to her, she wanted no part of it, she didn't want to learn anything and she still doesn't. She cares about socializing and making her room and herself look pretty and even in those she is careless and doesn't put in a ton of effort.

I am panicking a bit today. Her attitude about being schooled at home has been good, but as we approach the start it is very disagreeable. Would I be better to purchase a structured curriculum for her and focus on the other two who are eager to learn and try new things? If not, how do I motivate a child to learn who is very ingrained in a public school conveyor belt method of learning and who has very little interest in education beyond getting good grades?"

Begin at the beginning. Know that it can take about one month for every month they have been in school for them to detox. The same is often true for the parents. The longer they were in school the more they will need to detox, as well. It can take time to separate ourselves from traditions and mindsets about learning that are bureaucracy based, rather than learning based. It takes time to broaden ones understanding of how children learn; especially your children.

What do you do in detox time? Build a solid foundation for life your home. In other words, address the homeculture, the family rhythms, and the atmosphere of the home. This is Core phase and is not so much about what you know, it is about being what we know. If mom was never taught by her parents to be aligned with core values and principles, it can take time to do this step.This is what I call the Family Scholar, where learning takes place as a family. Relationships are built with God and family first. This is done by working together, side by side, taking advantage of teaching moments. Some of the greatest teaching moments happen when parents are listening to their children, as they work side-by-side. Yes, we need to talk less and listen more. How else will our children ever learn to be good listeners? Learning to clean and maintain the home together also passes on standards and values to our children. Working together also helps them develop good solid habits, habitudes, and a solid work ethic.

Read aloud together. Read books of rich language, ones that support your central classics, your source of truth. Reading aloud builds their vocabulary and their thinking skills.

Play together and provide resources for imaginative play. Sometimes with youth we mistake the need to play and to imagine with a need for entertainment and peer group. This happens so much, I feel some shall entertain themselves to death.

Worship together. Be inviting, not demanding. I do not know about you, but I respond better to invitations. If you are not used to scripture reading or devotionals, start small, develop the habit and then gently expand.

Concerned about education while you develop the foundation? Try "Power of an Hour: Gateway to a Classical Education." It is simple. It rarely requires prep-time. Use it to establish three habits-
1. Daily scripture study.
2. Daily classic's read aloud.
3. Daily intellectual enrichment focused on different subject throughout the week.

If one hour is too much at one sitting, divide it up and do it after each meal. Each segment is about the attention span of most children. If children are still really young and developing attention span, simplify this even more. Study one verse of scripture, read one paragraph or page of the story, and do the minimum on the enrichment. Baby steps. Start small, develop the habit, and expand out. Gradually, do more as their attention span lengthens and interests are awoken.

They need a solid core phase of development and a strong love of learning before you can expect a scholar phase to unfold.

Enjoy the journey!

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