Homeschooling has its ups and downs, pitfalls and praises, and at times it’s a rocky road. I am what many homeschoolers call a “homeschool veteran.” I have home educated all five of my girls beginning way back in 1997 (yes….that long ago). There may be some readers out there that were not even in school yet! At that time my two oldest daughters had attended public school through their third and second grades. The school’s psychologist evaluated my daughter Kayse (because of my insistent pestering that something was wrong) at the end of her second grade year and diagnosed her with a learning disability.
Kayse had a processing difficulty that affected her ability to read with fluency. The psychologist requested a second evaluation (which we allowed) before meeting with all the proper county school staff. The meeting involved the school principal, a school board staff member, the ESE teacher, the psychologist, and myself. Because we live in a rural area the school was fairly small and had only one class for students with disabilities, both learning and emotional. The school board group was requesting that I agree to place Kayse into the ESE class with approximately 25 students having emotional disabilities and one or two students with learning impairments. I asked for the percentage of students that make it out of this “special” class prior to their graduation and they said that they don’t keep records! Are you kidding me??? The Lord was with me that day~the psychologist requested a private meeting with me which the principal did not want to allow. However, the psychologist was firm and pushed for the private meeting between her and I. Once we were alone she told me if I had any thoughts of homeschooling Kayse I should do it. She said Kayse was extremely intelligent, happy, well-adjusted, and a joy to be around she just has a learning disability. If placed within the “box” the school system wanted for her it would take away her wonderful personality. She also said she would deny everything she just said to me if I repeated her words! 🙂 (Gotta love the system!)
Homeschooling Here We Come
We believed the Lord had given a clear answer about what we should do for our family. Home education is NOT for everyone, however it fills a definite need within the educational system. We would have loved to send our girls to a private Christian school, but with three students to pay for and me being a stay-at-home mom that wasn’t happening. That summer I spent a lot of time searching the internet for ideas about curriculum, how to prepare and organize, and requirements necessary to be legal within our county. Florida is a home education friendly state, but every county has its own annual requirements for demonstrating that your child is receiving the proper instruction. Thankfully we lived in an area that was very amiable the school board even gave a packet of information that included support groups, where to purchase curriculum, and the rules and regulations for our county.
Let me just tell you that all the information was OVERWHELMING!! :0 Frightening is another descriptive word I would use to describe my feelings during that time. My girls educational future was on my shoulders and it was scary. I prayed, read, prayed some more and finally found the Rainbow Resource Center. The Rainbow Resource Center was and is a place to find a huge array of home education resources at very fair prices. The thing that I loved about them was that their catalog gave detailed descriptions and reviews of every product they offered. It has been a few years since I have ordered from them so I haven’t received their catalog lately, but in the past it was enormous! It reminded me of a giant dictionary full of information. Everything would be broken down into smaller categories to allow you to search for specific educational areas like math, phonics, and history. I spent hours upon hours reading this catalog before ordering our curriculum. The link to view their website is Rainbow Resource Center be ready to spend a LOT of time browsing!
Basic First Steps to Home Education
The first thing I would recommend if you are thinking about home educating your children is to pray. Pray and ask the Lord to guide you in this decision. Is home education the right thing for YOUR family and are you ready to handle the commitment that it will take to do it? It is very time-consuming, especially in the beginning and every summer before the start of the new year. You will need to know in your heart if it is the right thing for you and your family and be willing to place it as the top priority each day. Be sure that you and your significant other is on the same page too, because you will be meeting many challenges.
The second thing I would recommend if you are going to home educate is contacting your local county school board. Ask if they have any information on home education and the regulations for your county. You will need to register school age children as being home educated as they become eligible to enter school. Next, I would do a local internet search for homeschool support groups. Support groups are great when you are starting the journey. Many families will share what they have learned and will give you much-needed encouragement. Many groups get together for field trips, play dates, and some even teach classes as a group. It’s a lot of fun and really helps you feel positive about your choice. You will need to be strong in your commitment to home education because you will be surprised by the negative responses you will get even from people you love. Support from others is imperative to your success.
Finally, I would access the Rainbow Resource Center and browse through all that they have to offer. I would also suggest requesting one of their catalogs. It has a wealth of information in it. I recommend beginning your homeschool journey when your children are young, the younger the better. The primary grades are the easiest to teach because it is basic reading, writing, and arithmetic. When your children get older I highly suggest Florida Virtual School. FLVS is an online school that is free to Florida residents. They offer so many courses it is difficult to keep up. Their format for teaching the middle to high school age group runs parallel to a college online format. It prepares older students for college not just educationally, but emotionally as well. Kids have to learn to manage their time and the workload. FLVS is an excellent resource for preparing them to face those challenges. If you have questions about homeschooling please contact me at 911Mom@Raising5Girls.com. Good luck! 🙂
Till Next Time,
Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert in education or homeschooling. All statements made are based on my own personal experiences.