I have been homeschooling my daughter for the past year and a half, and it has been an incredible learning experience for both of us. It is interesting to me the questions parents ask me when I talk about homeschooling. It seems that the general thinking is that one has to sit all day with the child to give lessons. I thought this way, but I later learned that it does not have to be like that at all. Homeschooling can be done in anyway you wish. It is up to you to do what best serves you and your child.
I began homeschooling my daughter around the time she turned four. In the beginning, I had her trace simple shapes and patterns, and also had her trace numbers and words such as her name, address and phone number. Tracing helped her to develop fine motor skills (which helped her to learn to tie at an early age) and gave her knowledge—and confidence— about the most fundamental information about herself.
To help me get started, I hired a retired schoolteacher who came to our home twice a week. This proved to be such a good decision for us. It helped me keep a nice rhythm and I learned a lot from the teacher. On the other three days each week, I taught Nalini. Lessons were approximately an hour in length, and Nalini embraced all that we had to teach her. Now at five and a half, her lessons are about an hour and a half each day with many little breaks and discussions.
Some people believe that children should not begin formal learning until they are around seven years of age, before which they should only play. My mother told me she did not start school in Jamaica until she was seven and my Russian friend said the same. I absolutely agree that play is necessary for a child’s development. However, I also believe that cultivating self-discipline and initiative is important for a child. And this is what Nalini is developing through her routine of sitting and focusing her attention on her work. I think something is succeeding because, at times, she takes her workbook on her own and sits down to do work by herself. It is incredible to see this for such a rambunctious little child!
Some of our projects together include writing a journal, going on field trips, making art, watching the incredible artistic performances, viewing documentaries and learning different aspects of various culture. There is never a dull moment homeschooling my little girl!
Besides being able to give my daughter the one-on-one attention, she deserves, homeschooling gives us the freedom to travel. Travel is not only a diverse platform from which to learn, but it is also an incredible opportunity for Nalini to play with kids without having to schedule a play date. Hooray!
I know my lifestyle is not the typical lifestyle of a single parent, but I choose this path because I want to experience the most I can with my daughter. I don’t know what is to become of the homeschooling situation in the future, so I just live it day by day. What I do know for sure is that the both of us are grateful for the quality time we get to spend together and that I am doing my best to give Nalini a solid foundation from which to grow. So, If you are considering homeschooling, hooray for you! Here are a few tips to help you get started;
- In case you did not know, homeschooling is legal in Canada. You have a right to your belief. If you believe you can give your child a solid education, then you have every right to exercise that belief.
- For course materials, check out the Independent Learning Centre, your local bookstore, and stores that sell resources for teachers.
- Keep and date all the work that you do.
- Find support groups for homeschooling parents.
- Enroll your child in team sports and day camps; visit Ontario Early Years Centres and make lots of playdates.
- Give your child the choice to choose which lessons he or she wants to begin with. In this way, he or she will be more committed to completing the work.
- Investigate your child’s questions by making a project out of it.
- Cook and bake with your child. Talk in mathematical terms when cutting or sharing food. Have your child participate in paying for items so that he or she can learn math from a hands-on perspective.
- Combine counting with singing.
- Give little five-minute breaks during learning lessons.
- Hire someone to come to your home at least twice a week to help keep the momentum and to give you ideas and inspiration.
- Most importantly, trust yourself. You do not need a diploma or a degree to do this task. All you need is patience and commitment.
If you have a specific question about homeschooling that I did not answer in this blog, please send it to me through this website and I will write back to you.