My friend James Preece…

…author of the Catholic and Loving it blog (which you really should read), writes from Hull, in Yorkshire, England to ask:

We just took the plunge, well, almost.. our eldest Leona is going to leave school at the end of December and be home educated from January.

Just wondering if you have any hints and tips for newbies?

1. Cindy Tobias, The Way They Learn is a good resource.

2. One pedagogical size does not fit all, do what works for you and your kid.
3. Record keeping may be important in the UK.
4. Consider making the writing work *about* something you are studying.
5. Capitalize on the fact that you live in freaking England, where all the cool language, culture and history comes from. You live, everyday, in the place that American high schoolers drool about taking some awesome field trip to see. So get juniette into seeing the places where Robin Hood legends started and Wordsworth wrote Tintern Abbey and Jane Austen lived and Shakespeare scenes actually happened and Chesterton wrote about and H.G. Wells’ Martians vaporized hapless sods.
6. Remember that I burn with envy about #5. Not germane to homeschooling, but a real motivator when you think about it.
7. Your kid is little and curious. Find out what she’s curious about. Also, make her curious and inspire wonder. Kid science kits can help with this. So can philosophical and theological questions. So can art. Wonder is the fountain of religion, art, philosophy, and science. Don’t ever forget that.
8. Teach her to shoot a bow and arrow like mommy. It will be cool when she’s a teenager *and* she’ll be all ready if England turns into a dystopian nightmare state like the Hunger Games. Win win!
9. Read to the child. Lots of good Puffin Books. And the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are rocking read alouds, as are Harry Potter and (here’s a challenge for your Yorkshire English accent), Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Also Watership Down. And if you can go on a picnic to Watership Down while reading it, all the better!
10. If you have a weak spot (I,for instance, suck at math) there are co-ops and other resources around. Get to know your local homeschool community.
11. Speaking of resources:

Hope that helps!

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  • freddy

    Mark gives great advice above. I would only add that a family considering homeschooling make a certain commitment to it: a full school year, or even two (especially if you’re moving from traditional schooling to home schooling). The early days can be particularly challenging, what with the scheduling changes, the temptation to “do everything,” the desire to make your fledgling homeschool look just like “family x’s” homeschool, who’s oldest just graduated from college, and the battles of will between mom and a strong willed child. Give it some time, note the small successes, have some fun with it. God bless and good luck!

  • Faithr

    That is wonderful advice, Mark! Love it. We’ve found in the 18 years we’ve been homeschooling that what worked best for us was: a little bit of ‘table time’ (writing and math), lots of reading (both read alouds and independent) is enough of formal learning for us. The rest is exploring passions, finding hobbies, playing with neat kits, toys and games, lots of discussions and debates, watching movies, going on field trips, investigating neat educational websites and vlogs, joining a co-op or attending an outside class or two, all these filled in all the other things quite nicely. Homeschooling really is very different from brick and mortar schooling. A lot more flexibility and freedom to let the student bloom in their own God-given time.