Starting to Homeschool

I am going to present six half-hour online presentations, followed by a half hour of questions and answers, for people interested in or just getting started with homeschooling their children. The presentations will be free the day of the event, but 24 hours after the event they will only be available as part of a complete, six-part package, Starting to Homeschool.

I’ve been helping families learn about, start, and get better at homeschooling for more than 30 years, and I bring a unique mix of experience, theory, and a perspective of active learning and gentle teaching to homeschooling. I will describe, briefly, how you can purchase curricula and do school at home, but I will focus more on how to help your children discover their talents, friends, and interests, which, in turn, leads to deeper explorations and studies.

My mentor, John Holt, preferred the word unschooling to describe learning that is not confined to the home and that is not like learning in school, but since homeschooling has entered into more common use I will use that term. I am also a homeschooling dad; my wife and I homeschooled our three daughters, now adults. Our daughters each chose to go in and out of public and private school at various times during their homeschooling, so I have a particular understanding of the often fraught personal and philosophical issues such choices cause and I’ll share how we, and others I know, come up with solutions that respect children’s decisions and allow your family the freedom to learn in your own ways.

Learning without a curriculum does not mean you toss plans and schedules to the wind; it may seem that way at first, but that’s because instead of relying on controlling and predicting learning as school does (often to the month and day!), you rely on your child’s personal growth and development to show you how to best help them learn, and this takes patience. The scopes and sequences for homeschooled learning are different for each child and family, and many families mix and match whatever ideas, products, theories, and practices they want. Such eclecticism is further encouraged by the availability of home versions of otherwise expensive private school curricula, such as Montessori and Waldorf. Many options will be presented for helping your children learn at home and in your community, and I am preparing free materials for download just for this series.

I’m putting this series on with the help and encouragement of Steve Hargadon and Rochelle Hudson, two homeschoolers and colleagues with far more Internet savvy than me. We hope to show the public that homeschooling is an enjoyable, responsible, and nurturing way to raise children. Homeschooling is not the enemy of public school as many portray it, and homeschooling is not for everyone—but you won’t really know unless you try it, since there are as many ways to make homeschooling work as there are people doing it. I know single parents, atheists, ministers, and families from all income and ability levels whom homeschooled joyfully and whose children are successful adults. Homeschooling can be a flexible, vibrant, and social way to learn at home and in your community without turning your home into a miniature school. I hope you’ll join me to see how you can use homeschooling to your advantage if you ever want or need to do so.

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