You Can Homeschool Kindergarten Without Fear—Use These 4 Things

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You Can Homeschool Kindergarten Without Fear—Use These 4 Things

Between church activities, my time spent teaching in public school, and my time spent homeschooling, I’ve taught children almost my whole life. I’ve birthed three children. I’ve adopted one. There isn’t much that scares me about children anymore.

There is just one thing that scared me to death—teaching kindergarten. I mean, kids start learning to read in kindergarten. It’s kind of a big deal.

I was so terrified of kindergarten that we sent two of my children to public school for kindergarten and I had no plans to change my no-kindergarten policy.

But then my youngest came along, and isn’t it just like the youngest child to throw a kink in all of your tested-and-tried plans? Because my youngest daughter’s birthday fell late in the year, she just missed the cutoff for public school. But, she was ready—very ready—to start school. So we decided to do the thing that I had never done before, to homeschool kindergarten.

I have to say that over the course of that year, kindergarten became one of my favorite ages, and I no longer fear it. I don’t think that you should fear it either. Homeschooling kindergarten is all about doing a few things really well.

1. Kindergarten Structure

Kindergarten is the year you want to work on getting your children used to the flow and structure of a school day. If you’ve already been doing preschool, you will simply build upon that existing structure. But, if your child is new to school, you’ll need to establish a routine for the day. That does not mean that every minute of the day is scheduled. Rather, it means that each day is predictable and has a clear flow.

I would caution against waking up one day to implement a full daily routine. You’ll want to ease into the transition of a school day routine. The first week, work on your morning routine. As your children get used to it, gradually add more elements of the routine until you find yourself with a full day.

A simple daily flow to work toward through the year might look something like this:

Kindergarten days should be fairly simple with plenty of time to explore and play. You will find that your daily structure is vastly different than the family down the street because each family has its own dynamics. Schedule your routine to reflect your family. The main idea here is a predictable routine that the child can depend on each day.

Sonlight History / Bible / Literature A

History / Bible / Literature A

2. Kindergarten Basics

We all make the mistake of wanting to study quantum physics with our first child, and even sometimes our second, third, or fourth! Resist the urge to force feed education at this age.

You need a laser focus on the basics during kindergarten. Think reading, writing, and arithmetic, and for us, Bible study. You will sprinkle in art and nature naturally, so don’t get wrapped up in that. I highly recommend you read Ruth Beechick’s The Three R’s book to help you get started.

Sonlight's History / Bible / Literature  (HBL) A is a fantastic place to begin in kindergarten. The Language Arts Activity Sheets contain just the right amount of practice to get your child on the right course, and the books are colorful, fun, and full of great themes for age-appropriate discussion. For math, I would recommend a simple curriculum such as Math-U-See or Singapore Math. Trust the curriculum you choose and allow it to be your guide for the year.

As you go through HBL A, you’ll notice several arts and crafts ideas as well as nature activities suggested throughout the Instructor’s Guide. If you get to them, great! If you don’t get to them, you can save them for another day or skip them altogether. Either way will be just fine.

3. Kindergarten Memorization

A huge part of the younger years is making the most of young children's amazing ability to memorize. Kindergartners are like little sponges, soaking up every bit of information you give them. When I homeschooled my daughter for Kindergarten, we did daily memorizing, including Bible verses, letter sounds, songs, short poems, etc.

Some days I offered an M & M for each item she said perfectly. Other days I held memory challenges to see who was better at reciting—my child or me! There are a plethora of really fun ways to memorize. Just be sure you tap into your kindergartner's budding talent of memorization.

4. Above All, a Love for Learning

The best piece of advice I can give for kindergarten is to encourage your child to develop a love for learning. Pay attention to your child’s cues. When they are tired, put the pencil away for a while. Play games. Go outside often. Make sure your child knows that learning comes from everywhere, not just books; the world is their classroom.

Raise a child who loves to learn, and you have raised a child who can do anything. Learning gaps can be quickly closed by a curious child.

Whatever you do, make sure that learning does not become a chore. If they moan and groan every time you pull out schoolwork, maybe they would benefit from an extra year of preschool. As a homeschooler, you are not on anyone else’s timeline. So, take your cues from your children, and don’t push too hard too early.

After teaching my youngest child through her kindergarten year, I realized that kindergarten was absolutely delightful and probably one of my favorite grades to teach. Since teaching my daughter, I’ve had the pleasure of teaching other kindergartners in our homeschool co-op, and I have loved every minute.

K-ers are so fun and so eager to get started learning. As you can tell, teaching kindergarten really isn’t so bad! It’s only tricky when you overthink it. Trust the curriculum, focus on the basics, take cues from your child, use lots of repetition, and cultivate a love for learning. Do these simple steps and you’ll be a Kindergarten homeschool extraordinaire! You’ll probably be like me and wonder why you were ever afraid of homeschooling your kindergartner.

If you need help choosing the best program for Kindergarten, we have Advisors who can help! Click here to schedule an appointment.

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3 Clever Incentives to Motivate a Homeschool Dawdler

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3 Clever Incentives to Motivate a Homeschool Dawdler

For mid-elementary through early middle school children, I’ve found that incentives—both tangible and intangible—work well to motivate a homeschool dawdler. I tend to use them temporarily to stimulate a lagging child and then taper the rewards, expecting the schoolwork to become its own reward.

Of course, after time I may have to resort to an incentive again when children need another boost of motivation. This cycle is natural, and I have no qualms about using extrinsic rewards where needed. After all, I use incentives for myself when my own spirits are lagging about doing a job!

Each child is unique and responds differently to rewards. So it does take some trial and error to find the best incentives when dawdling needs to be nipped in the bud. Here are my three go-to incentives for kids who dawdle.

1. Timers and Timed Goals

Sometimes simply showing children there is an end point is enough to motivate them. Instead of having my children work until an assignment is complete, I may have them work for a set number of minutes instead. Once the time is up, they are done with that subject for the day.

Some children work best with a timer so they can see the minutes counting down and look forward to being done. You can purchase regular timers that show time elapsed, visual timers that highlight how much time is left, or fancy hourglasses that slowly trickle away the minutes. Seeing that visual reminder that time is ticking away helps many children stay on task instead of dawdling.

Another good use of timers is to give children a reward if they can finish their work within a certain amount of time. Or encourage kids to work faster by asking them to beat their previous time by a certain number of seconds or minutes.

2. Extra Recess

An easy reward that doesn’t cost anything is simply the promise of more free time—extra recess, extra screen time, or any similar reward that you know will appeal to your child. To use this incentive, simply set a time frame for a homeschool subject. It can a scheduled task, such as math between 9:00 and 9:30 am every day, or a routine task, such as reading for 30 minutes a day.

If a child is especially reluctant or has a terrible case of dawdling, offer the free time reward immediately after he finishes the required homeschool time. If the child is older or the dawdling isn't as severe, you can record the work and award all the extra free time at once on a weekly basis.

3. Reward Tracking Systems

Reward charts are highly versatile and easy to use. You can use a sticker chart, a daily checklist, or any other type of record keeping you desire. Use the chart to track completion of homeschool tasks your child dawdles over. Then depending on how well your child can delay gratification, offer daily or weekly rewards based on the charts.

The Sticker Chart

A sticker chart typically uses one sticker for each completed task. The sticker chart itself may work as a standalone incentive, but if your child needs a little extra motivation, you can offer rewards for each filled chart: a trip to get ice cream, an hour at the park, or a chance to choose a weekend meal.

The Candle Method

The candle method works great for read-alouds and other subjects where the child is not expected to produce output but needs to pay attention. Simply light a candle at the beginning of your read-aloud session, and as you read, give warnings each time your child interrupts (with comments not related to what you are reading) or stops paying attention. After two or so warnings, simply blow out the candle. When the candle is completely burned up, the child earns a reward your previously agreed on.

The M&M or LEGO Method

When you need to reward individual problems for a serious dawdler, the M&M or LEGO method works well. The premise is simple. Lay one M&M, or one LEGO beside each math problem. As soon as the child completes the problem correctly, they get the candy or LEGO award. If their answer is incorrect, either mom gets the reward, or they can try again to earn their prize.

The Marble (or Bean) Jar

Set up for this incentive is simple. You need a large jar and enough small pieces to fill it. I like marbles or colored rocks for aquariums, but you can use anything similar in size. Each time your child does a good job, they get to put a marble in the jar. When the jar is full, they have earned a reward.

Mommy Money/Daddy Dollars

In this incentive, you create your own ticket system or family currency which kids earn in exchange for homeschool work, chores, or even positive behaviors. You hand out money as you feel fit for different tasks your child has done

After they have a bit saved enough tickets or currency, they can exchange them for rewards. Here are some examples:

  • 30 Daddy Dollars may equal an afternoon trip to the park
  • 500 Daddy Dollars earns a day trip to the zoo
  • 20 pieces of Mommy Money may equal one US dollar
  • 100 Daddy Dollars equals a reward from an incentive box (below)
  • 10 pieces of Mommy Money gets a bag of sunflower seeds

Incentive Boxes

These boxes require a trip to a dollar store for various assorted toys, treats, games, and fun school supplies. Create a price list and mark each item in the box with the number of points/stickers/dollars it will take to earn each item. The incentive box has an added bonus of teaching your children to share if you allow them to gather points collectively to earn larger items.

With some children, you’ll find it’s hard to figure out what their motivational currency is, in other words, what stimulates them to do their work. In that case, use as many methods as it takes to find what really helps them stop the dawdling and get on track with completing their homeschool lessons.

 We can't promise your kids will never dawdle with Sonlight. But you can order with confidence because of our 100% guarantee.

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A Thoughtful Exposé of the "What About Socialization?" Question

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A Thoughtful Exposé of the What About Socialization? Question

I’m a second-generation homeschooler, so I’ve heard questions people ask homeschoolers for as long as I can remember. Curiosity comes in waves, and some of the most commonly asked topics tend to evolve over the years. A few questions, though, persist. Perhaps you, too, are wondering

First of all, a quick spoiler alert: colleges love homeschoolers. They really do! And while many of the academic questions about home education have been answered in big ways over the years, the socialization myth lives on. This is simultaneously fascinating and confusing to me.

The Socialization Question Relies on an Incorrect Belief About the Public School System

Homeschooling has been fairly mainstream in the United States for some time now, at least long enough that many people have likely met not just a homeschooled kindergartner but also a homeschool graduate who’s now a likable, employed, successful, and well-adjusted adult.

Yet for whatever reason, the fears and myths surrounding the socialization question persist. Why is this? What cultural influences drive this question?

At its root, the socialization question relies on the ingrained—but inaccurate—belief that no shy, dysfunctional, or socially awkward child or adult ever emerged from the public school system.

Let’s think about that for a second. Is it really true that traditional brick-and-mortar education is the antidote for social dysfunction? Of course not! The socialization question itself reveals a clear double standard at play. When a disturbed individual surfaces on the news (night after night, in every local new station in the country), no one ever reports that the socialization practices of the public system are flawed and need to be changed.

The Socialization Question Relies on an Incorrect Perception of When Socialization Occurs

It’s easy at times to hold on to an idyllic view of the traditional classroom:

  • a caring teacher
  • a loving group of friends
  • everyone’s individual needs being met
  • all the educational opportunities we could dream of

Yet when we break down traditional education and look at it with a realistic lens in light of the socialization question, how much socialization—conversing, bonding, and making friends—is actually happening at a classroom level?

The truth is, as anyone who’s ever helped in a room full of young students can attest, teachers constantly remind students to stop talking, be quiet, and listen.

Yes, listening is a valuable skill, but when the classroom is held up as the gold standard for forming friendship and relationships, things simply don’t add up. In reality, most true socialization in school does not happen in a classroom, but during the fringe times of schooling:

  • at recess (which are dwindling at an alarming rate in US schools)
  • on class outings and field trips
  • during extra curricular activities

Homeschool parents can offer their children all this—and much, much more—due to the tremendous scheduling flexibility which homeschool offers. While traditionally educated children are sitting in a desk next to same-age peers, homeschooled children have the chance to be plugged in to a wide range of mixed-age experiences, including

  • field trips
  • travel
  • group music lessons
  • specialized classes
  • sports leagues
  • scouting groups
  • internships
  • clubs
  • camps
  • job shadowing

The Socialization Question Relies on an Incorrect and Narrow Definition of Socialization Itself

When my daughter was three, she carried on a vibrant conversation with the stranger across the picnic table at the park. “She speaks so well,” exclaimed the woman, turning toward me. “Where does she go to daycare?” When I explained I stayed at home with my daughter instead of sending her to daycare, the woman was shocked, exclaiming, “Then how did she learn to talk?” (I tried not to take it personally; myths tend to persist in the face of the facts.)

Although it defies logic, some people—like the woman I met at the park—continue to believe a group of extremely young, babbling, pre-verbal, children are better qualified to teach language through interaction than a verbal adult.

But much of this pervasive mindset stems from believing the public school system’s very narrow definition of socialization: interaction between peers born the same year. Due to this limiting view, some people have never thought of interaction outside this narrow age range as legitimate socialization.

The truth is, the traditional model of education—and the subsequent narrow definition of socialization—actually widens the gap between generations, resulting in more social awkwardness.

Think about it. Traditionally-schooled kids spend the majority of each six-hour school day around only those children who are close in age. They tend to initiate conversation and seek friendship primarily within that range.

Homeschooled kids, on the other hand, regularly converse with everyone from the elderly to the very young—not just same-age peers. As a result, homeschoolers are far more comfortable interacting with a wider range of humanity than the average age-segregated student.  And the natural flow of multi-generational interaction prevalent in homeschooling, too, far more closely resembles real life—and real life workplaces—than does a traditional school setting.

So take heart, friends, especially if you’re just beginning this home education journey. Be empowered and encouraged in the face of ill-informed “But what about socialization?” questions. These doubts are flawed at the very root, based on

  • incorrect beliefs about the public school system,
  • incorrect perceptions of when socialization occurs, and
  • incorrect and narrow definitions of socialization itself.

Non-traditional education bypasses these pitfalls, and allows for a wide range of (true!) socialization.

There’s no question. Homeschooling prepares kids very well for the real world.

When you buy from Sonlight, you get a great product that produces proven results. To learn more about the perks of shopping with Sonlight, visit Sonlight Cares.

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4 Ways Your Homeschool Curriculum May Encourage Dawdling

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4 Ways Your Homeschool Curriculum May Encourage Dawdling

Children are naturally born with a poor sense of time management. They tend not to see the importance of deadlines and schedules and are not experts as using their time wisely. Unfortunately for busy homeschool parents, this tendency to dawdle can create friction when their children don’t complete assignments in a reasonable amount of time.

It may be time to clear the table for dinner, and your adorable dawdler is still laboring over math problems from 3:30 this afternoon!

The first step to conquering dawdling is to uncover the reason. If one of my children is taking a long time, an honest and open conversation usually pinpoints the issue, making it easier to solve.

One of my key revelations in the area of dawdling through the homeschool day is that the problem is often the curriculum instead of the child. It’s easy to look at an assignment, see how straightforward it appears, and assume the child is at fault for not completing it in a speedy manner. Because very young children are typically eager learners, if they are dawdling over an assignment, it usually boils down to one of the following curriculum-based reasons.

1. Dawdling Because It's Too Easy

As a parent, there are certain chores I don’t like because they are mindless and repetitive. For me, it’s the dishes. After every meal, I’m washing the same dishes over and over, day after day. The monotony is excruciating.

For my children, practicing writing the same letters or doing the same types of math problems they already understand is equally tedious. Because they are so young, they don't have the fortitude to approach the task as I would approach the dishes.

Sometimes dawdling is a result of curriculum being too easy, mindless, or repetitive.

2. Dawdling Because It's Too Hard

Just because an assignment many look easy to me, doesn’t mean it’s easy for my child. Even though we are our children's primary teacher, we homeschool parents can still be surprised to learn of gaps in learning. We assume our kids grasp some academic foundation that is actually a mystery to them.

Homeschool dawdling could be because an assignment is too hard or not well understood.

3. Dawdling Because It's Too Long

A child might be willing to complete ten math problems a day but may get overwhelmed by doing thirty. Once she passes that 10-problem limit, the dawdling begins!

I can relate to this kind of child by reminding myself that I might be fine doing a load or two of laundry a day, but if I’m going to be folding and putting away ten loads a day, I need a huge amount of motivation or energy to make it through that mammoth task.

If you see dawdling happen suddenly at a certain point in the assignment, the culprit could be the size of the task.

4. Dawdling Because It's the Wrong Method

Not all children learn equally well with all programs. I’ve seen huge changes in a child’s motivation simply by changing to a math program that fits their personality better or trying a language arts program that uses a different approach.

Correctly identifying the reason for dawdling opens up a workable solution. It's not hard to see in each of the four situations above what the answer is! If work is too monotonous, skip ahead to something more challenging. If the assignment is too long, shorten it. If it's too difficult, stop and reteach or put it aside until your child has more maturity.

Sometimes identifying the problem is as simple as asking our children why they are procrastinating or why they don’t want to do their work. Other times we can observe what happens when they do the work and trust our gut to tell us if the issue is actually a fault of the child or a problem with the curriculum. Don’t be afraid to switch things up in an effort to curb dawdling. Our freedom to make changes on the fly is one of our most valuable homeschool perks.

Sonlight has homeschool consultants available to talk to you about curriculum management issues like dawdling. Click here to schedule an appointment.

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A Different Set of Bible Verses for the Exhausted, Burned Out Mom

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I’ve seen a lot of posts lately, using Bible verses to encourage moms to do more—to lift them up, prepare them for more work, and to heal their hearts so they can continue on. I love those articles! They motivate me. But sometimes a mom needs a different kind of encouragement. When a mom is exhausted from burnout, she needs a special type of Bible study that focuses on one of Jesus's enduring habits.

It's No Wonder Mothers Experience Burnout

One of the hardest jobs on earth is being a mother. We are cooks, cleaners, problem solvers, laundry washers, dishwashers, organizers, and caregivers. On occasion, we are also nurses, chaos preventers, janitors, emergency workers, and disaster clean-up crews. We work days, evenings, and nights. We work 7 days a week and are on-call 24 hours a day.

It’s no surprise that mothers experience the same symptoms you see in long-term healthcare providers, daycare workers, police officers, and paramedics—burnout.

You may have experienced the kind of exhaustion that falls in the burnout category:

  • when you feel you simply can’t keep going
  • when you’re not enjoying your tasks
  • when you just want to go back to sleep instead of getting up and going to work
  • when you crave an escape from your daily grind, but the thought of a holiday or family vacation is unappealing because that would mean more work for you

If this is you, you’re not alone.

Burnout Can Make a Homeschool Mom Feel Guilty

To make the situation worse, mothers often feel guilty for these feelings.

Taking a break from your children sounds like an unkind thing to do to them, and asking a spouse for help may feel like giving them more work to do on top of their already busy schedule. Asking a friend or family member for help may feel like imposing.

Taking time to ourselves feels selfish or unloving or uncaring. But the truth is, taking care of ourselves is one the most important things we can do to take better care of our family. Every person needs time for themselves. Don’t believe me? Take note of what Jesus did, and how often he needed to be alone.

Here's your Bible study about self-care, based on six different verses that you probably don't read in the typical exhausted mom article.

1. Time to Yourself

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Matthew 14:22-24

  • Jesus sent the crowd and disciples away so he could recharge and be with God alone. He needed time to himself. He needed time away from those closest to him. So we might also enjoy a few minutes to ourselves, or a chance to take a short break.

2. Time with Friends

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. Mark 4:35-36

  • Being alone was a regular occurrence for Jesus. He didn't get away by himself just once, but several times. Each time is related to a different story, so it's not just a different retelling of the same story. If Jesus needed time away on a regular basis, then so do we. Sometimes, as here, we may feel a need to just need to go hang out with our friends without the crowds of children who need us. (Even if our crowd is just one child.)

3. A Habit of Silence and Reflection

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Mark 1:35-37

  • Jesus enjoyed silence and being alone. He cherished this time of being alone in prayer and thought. So, also, do we need time alone in silence and reflection.

4. Leaving the Group for Solitary Prayer

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:15-16

  • People needed Jesus, even more than our children need us. The multitude had constant needs for healing and teaching. And yet Jesus demonstrated that unless people take the time to take care of themselves and their needs, they will get exhausted taking care of others. Jesus expects us to take time for ourselves even though the needs of those around us are great.

5. Making Time for Grief and Processing Emotions

(This verse occurs just after they buried John the Baptist after he was beheaded.)

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Matthew 14:13a

  • Life can be unbearably painful. Even Jesus needed time alone to deal with his grief. His friends were also mourning, people needed to be healed, and yet, he took time for himself first. When the hard times hit, we might find ourselves needing even more time alone to process things.

6. Saying No and Taking Longer Breaks Alone

“You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee. However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. John 7:8-10

  • For Jesus to be alone was not uncommon, but in this instance he traveled a 90-mile trip by foot from Galilee to Jerusalem—a 5 day journey—solo. This passage shows us that sometimes people need more than just a bit of time on their own. Sometimes, they need longer breaks.

There are many other instances in the gospels that mention or imply Jesus's being on his own. He regularly practiced self-care when he retreated from his busy life, filled with constant demands of his time and energy.

Just like Jesus, we homeschool moms need time to refresh and rejuvenate. We need to take care of ourselves, and we have a Biblical precedence to do so. Meditate on these six Bible verses and ask God to show you how you can be more like Jesus when it comes to self-care in the face of your burned out exhaustion.

If you could use an empathetic ear, we have experienced homeschooling moms who would love to talk to you. Click here to schedule an appointment.

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Homeschooling with Humble Confidence

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Homeschooling with Humble Confidence

There’s a tendency among homeschooling parents to try convincing the rest of the world that the path they’ve chosen for education is the best. Not the best for their child, their family, or their current season of life. Just the best. Period.

Where Does Overbearing Homeschool Confidence Come From?

Why do some homeschool parents beat this drum that homeschooling is, without qualification, the best educational option? I lump the types of parents into four categories:

  1. On the positive side, some of these moms and dads are in the honeymoon phase of homeschooling, feeling excited about their new adventure and eager to evangelize everyone to their newfound discovery. They’re looking at homeschooling through rose-colored glasses.
  2. Others have been homeschooling for quite some time and have a well-rounded, more realistic perspective of the journey. Those families are fully aware of the cons, but remain convinced they’re far outweighed by the pros.
  3. From a more negative angle, there are homeschool parents who are a defensive because of unsupportive comments from people close to them. They feel compelled to defend their decision and maybe go a bit to the extreme in doing so.
  4. Still others have had homeschooling go well for them, so they pat themselves on the back and fish for compliments.

What Does Overbearing Homeschool Confidence Look Like to Others?

Regardless of what’s prompting this homeschool marketing campaign of sorts, it generally comes across to others as ignorance, insecurity, or pride. Have any of those three traits ever convinced you to change your perspective on something important? Do you feel drawn to people who demonstrate those qualities toward you when you’re in disagreement about something?

Of course not; this type of behavior is totally counter-productive.

  • The mom whose kids are active and happy in public school won’t benefit from your sharing stats on social media about homeschooled kids outscoring their peers on tests.
  • People will roll their eyes at your lack of knowledge when you compare the amount of money a public school gets per student compared to how much you spend to homeschool one child.
  • The school staff who pour themselves into far more kids each day than you’ll ever have under your roof will not feel respected when you stereotype public school employees.
  • The dad paying for private school isn’t going to gain anything by your condescending remark about wasting money on tuition when you can give your kid a better education at home for less.

How to Demonstrate Humble Confidence in Homeschooling

Does that mean we never talk about the perks homeschooling with people or ignore the problems with other schooling options? No, but it does mean we need to homeschool with a correct attitude. Once we’ve determined homeschooling is the best option available for our child at a particular point in time, we need to move forward with both humility and confidence, understanding it may not be the best available option for another child at the same point in time. In fact, it may not be an option at all.

We should focus our energy on homeschooling our own kids, not trying to convince others to homeschool theirs or make them believe we’re doing what’s best for ours. The respect we want people to show toward our choice to homeschool is the same respect we should show toward their decision to choose otherwise. The freedom we want in exercising our belief that it’s a wise choice is the same freedom we need to extend to those who believe differently. The truth is there are kids floundering and excelling, both academically and with the rest of life, in every single school setting. We would do well to remember that.

Actions that Demonstrate the Humble Confidence of a Homeschooler

  • Value education itself more than where it happens.
  • Trust that other families are doing what they believe is right for them, remembering that we don’t know—nor is it our business to know—all the factors that went into their decision.
  • Support local schools by volunteering on their campuses, donating supplies to their classrooms, and buying tickets for their performances and games.
  • Share both the highs and lows of homeschooling in our own lives, the advantages we’ve had and the struggles we face, rather than making broad generalizations that pit homeschooling against other options.
  • Praise the accomplishments of kids in brick and mortar school as eagerly as we do those who are homeschooled.
  • Acknowledge that every schooling option has strengths and weaknesses—objective ones that are inherent and subjective ones that vary by teacher, school, district, child, family, and season of life.
  • Be approachable, sharing information about homeschooling with people when they’ve felt comfortable enough with us to ask questions.

Remember that actions speak louder than words. The way we live our lives as homeschooling families—including how we treat those who are opposed to, uninterested in, or unable to take part in homeschooling—will do far more to make or break people’s views about homeschooling than any article, statistic, or anecdote we share with them.

Let’s demonstrate humble confidence as we educate our kids at home.

Take advantage of Sonlight's 100% guarantee. No other homeschooling company can match our Love to Learn, Love to Teach™ promise. You can order with confidence that either you will have a great year, or you will get a full refund.

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5 Vital Road Markers of a Homeschool Plan for Gifted Learners

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5 Vital Road Markers of a Homeschool Plan for Gifted Learners

As a young student, I spent several years attending a pilot school as part of a gifted and talented program. The combination of challenge and freedom I experienced there sparked my love for learning and created a passion for discovery. When I had my own children, I knew that homeschooling in the style of this pilot school would be the best way to teach a diverse group of kids with different learning styles—several of them gifted learners.

Wonder, discovery, exploration, and awe—these are core values strive upon which I build my homeschool. In my effort to create an environment that helps gifted learners thrive and nurtures their accelerated learning, I discovered these five guidelines. They serve as road markers when I'm creating a homeschool plan for my gifted learners. As a bonus, all of my children have benefited from making room for these five things.

1. Give Control of the Instructor's Guide Sooner

With most of my children, I take more of a facilitator role in middle school when they reach Sonlight’s History/Bible/Literature Level F. Because this level teaches students to research independently, children are able to work in a self-guided fashion, following the IG with a parent on tap for support.

For our gifted learners, however, I have learned to turn over the Instructor's Guide (IG) sooner, even before Level F. Giving my gifted kids power over their schedules led to some curious choices. My daughter, for example, chose to read most of her books all of the way through instead of following the schedule which spaced the reading over a period of weeks. My son chose to hunker down with math, doing a high volume of lessons each day instead of following the steady drip of one lesson per day as prescribed in the curriculum outline.

When giving control of the IG to my gifted children, I still check in with them regularly, but I found two massive benefits with this self-pacing:

  1. My gifted kids stayed enthusiastic about their learning.
  2. They were given liberty to work at their preferred pace, one that was much faster than that of their siblings.

If you are homeschooling children in groups of two, three, or more, realize that your gifted children may need to diverge from your group plans so that they can zip ahead at a pace that's comfortable for them. Holding them back for the sake of the group can be demoralizing for them and crush their zeal for learning. Let them take control of the IG and work through it however they prefer.

2. Make Room for Electives

My gifted daughter is an extremely rapid reader. There were days she would finish all of her reading assignments before lunch. She and I would go over the discussion questions in the IG, and sure enough, she could respond with satisfying answers.

I was at a loss. Can a kid be done with school by lunch? Is that even allowed?

I heaped on extra work, but she did not see the fairness in that. As a parent, I had to humbly admit it was not a good way inspire her to love learning.

As a solution, I began introducing new subjects for student-led independent study. I would start the topic with a few key resources: a probing question, a video, a book, or a curriculum. Then she would follow the vein of interest as desired. In this manner, she delved into a wide swath of topics:

  • oceanography
  • geology
  • herbs and medicinal plants
  • photography
  • robotics
  • coding
  • drawing

We continued this smorgasbord of electives until my daughter found her passion in writing. It took time to find an interest that captured her imagination, but all of the searches were worth their time and effort. No learning experience is ever wasted.

3. Add Foreign Language Early

Take your choice—any language offers brain building benefits. Studies show that learning a foreign language is a great way to build additional neural pathways in a child’s brain. Many gifted children will love the challenge that learning a second language offers.

My first set of children took Latin beginning in sixth grade. My second group of children is starting their upper elementary foreign language with Greek. Two of our high-school students continued with Latin while my son chose to use Rosetta Stone for Japanese. The youngest, who is six, is using an app to learn Chinese.

4. Go Deep

In homeschooling my gifted children, I allow time to go deep as well as broad. Instead of skimming over the same series of facts year after year, we focus on studying with increasing complexity each year. When a subject catches our attention, we stay in one place and get to know it. Gifted students are known to get engrossed in a subject that piques their interest. Let them go as deep as they want. To force them to move on just to follow a schedule or checklist crushes their passion for learning more.

By spending the whole school year in one place and time in history, year after year, our students built a cohesive mental timeline, gaining a deeper understanding of how and why historical events were happening. This depth helped me build an education for my kids that was far beyond the model of memorizing names and dates which most of us experienced in public school. Whether it was in-depth American History or our year spent studying the Eastern Hemisphere, having a full year meant we had time to fully explore and enjoy un-rushed learning.

5. Keep Reading Classic Literature

There is concrete evidence that being read to leads to success in school. Thus reading has been part of our family life from day one. I wanted to capture my children’s imagination early by reading my favorite books to them, so nap time was always reading time. I made reading a habit; I modeled it and made time for it.

I found that my gifted children especially benefited from the influence of stories about  great people. Historical fiction and biographies are a beautiful way to fall in love with heroes every single day. Many of the characters in those books have quirky passions or were misunderstood for years before their unique way of thinking was finally appreciated. These themes help gifted learners come to grips with their unique talents and provide role models for guiding their own complex emotions.

I have built an amazing home library over the last thirteen years simply by using Sonlight curriculum. It turns out that in our family of ten children, there is not a single book that isn’t someone’s favorite.

Making a homeschool plan for gifted students is challenging, just like educating any student. But following these five road markers will help you devise a curriculum that overcomes many of the obstacles gifted children face in a regular classroom. As a bonus, you get to experience the deeply satisfying joy of being integral to your children’s learning! Homeschooling is the perfect model to help your gifted student excel, explore, and thrive.

Choose a curriculum you can hand over to your gifted learner with confidence. Try it today. Get three weeks of any Sonlight Instructor's Guide for free. Click here.

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