Austin Area Homeschoolers
Newcomers' Guide
Words of Wisdom
(These are opinions of some AAH parents but are not to be taken as representative of all of us, since AAH encompasses families with widely different attitudes, opinions, methods, and philosophies.)
 

The Progressive Stages of Becoming Homeschoolers
1. We would never do it; it's too weird!
2. We could never do it; we're not that organized!
3. We might want to do it; is it legal?
4. We think we are going to do it; but what about socialization?
5. We're gonna do it; but who else is doing it?
6. We're doing it; but which curriculum is best for us?
7. "Just do it!" The human mind is a terrible thing to waste wondrous entity to fulfill!
 

Just Starting
"Sometimes you feel like you don't know what you are doing."

"It is quite normal to feel inadequate; just relax."

"If homeschooling is absolutely new to you or you are unsure of yourself, it is very important to give yourself at least a year to research all the aspects of homeschooling there are. Don't be hard on yourself; don't expect to be doing tons of school-like work right off the bat. If your child has just come out of a school setting, he or she may need a year to rediscover his or her own desire to learn and may need a break to "deprogram," so to speak. (Mine did.) Give yourself and your child the gift of a year to discover which method of education works best for you. Be aware that even if you don't do much structured, school-like work that year, your child will not be any worse off than if he or she had spent that year in school."

"Go slowly, in fact, very slowly."

"The first year is the hardest, particularly if you have just taken your kids out of school."

"If you are a single parent, grandparent, two-career family, or a father who is home during the day, then you are not alone! There are others like you in our group who prove people in your situation can homeschool, and support is available."

"Often you have to try several styles of teaching before you find the one or combination that works for your family."

"Take it slow and go to the library every week."

"You can expect to find as many different styles of homeschooling and teaching as there are people doing it."

"I try to write 'diary style' each week in a notebook. I list the books we've read, the places we've been, the things we've discussed, the things we've done. Then, when I have a week or two of feeling like we are going nowhere and I'm worried that I'm not doing "enough," I re-read my notes and I am usually amazed at just how much we really have done and at the subjects we've covered. "

"We tried to write a diary of the things we did for homeschooling, but found it difficult to keep up with it. Instead, we designed a form with all the required areas of homeschooling listed. We have one log sheet for each day and it is easy to jot quick notes about events of the day that pertain to the different subject areas." 
 

Taking Children Out of School
"My only regret is that I didn't do it sooner. I wish I'd taken my child out of school when he was much younger, but I didn't realize that was even an option."

"If a child has low or no self-esteem, the last place he or she needs to be is in school."

"Once my child came out of school, his self-esteem improved, and that's been really nice to watch."

"If you have any doubt that your children are floundering or frustrated in school, then pull them out. You can always put them back."

"If you take your child out of school, be sure he or she understands that the reason isn't that he or she is not good enough or smart enough to be in school."

"Most of all, I appreciate all the time we have together. It is the most precious gift I get and can give to my child." 
 

Dealing With the School
"You can waste a lot of time and energy being paranoid about being a homeschooler if you don't know the laws and aren't prepared to be confronted by a truant officer. Get your act together, know the laws and have some kind of organized way to keep track of the things you are doing in homeschooling in case you do have to deal with school authorities."

"If a school representative or truant officer knocks on your door, it is best to be polite but not invite them into your home. You do not have to let them in. Perhaps you could get their name and number and request . . . an appointment with them at their office. That way, if your breakfast dishes are still in the sink, or your kids have every toy in the house spread out, those things can't be used against you as negative evidence."

"When you are taking your child out of school mid-year and are having problems with the school, you can look into an umbrella program like the one at Great Hills Christian School. You pay them a fee and you get certain benefits that make the transition out of a hostile school easier."
 

Testing
"You can go to the UT Learning Resources Center and . . . check out computer programs for two hours and go upstairs to use a computer to see if you like the program before you go out and buy it."

"If you want your child to take the Iowa Test of Basic Skills at your own home, you can order the test for a fee. Any one with any kind of college degree can give your child the test. Call Bob Jones University at 1-800-845-5731." 

"You can order placement tests to find out what school level your child."
 

The Children
"My four-year-old was very insistent about going to preschool due to peer pressure from his friends in school. I finally bought him an official lunch box, sleeping mat, some cheap workbooks, and some school supplies. He was thrilled with the things and hasn't said much about going to school since then."

"If you have more than one child, you may have to do completely different things to teach them. One child may be very independent, and another may need more one-on-one attention."

"Wait for maturity to occur before putting kids into a more structured teaching atmosphere."
 

Your Friends and Family
"People are always worried about socialization, but the social experience within the family is a precious gift."

"Someone told me that once I began homeschooling, I would start to notice that my crowd of friends would begin to change. So far, this has been pretty true. I still have my old friends, but I tend to socialize a lot more with my homeschooling friends, because I don't have to worry about saying something about school or education that will hurt their feelings or send them into a state of fury or guilt. I can also be opinionated about what's happening in public education without offending anyone."

"When I tell friends and family that I 'researched' homeschooling for a year prior to starting and give them some of the positive points, they are usually accepting of it."

"Be prepared for some people to quiz your kids because they want to see what they know."

"One school child informed me that she must be a lot smarter than my child since she was going to school. She thought the school wouldn't let my child come because she was too dumb. This coming from a child who has low self-esteem and is doing her second stint of kindergarten."
 

General Comments
"Take it one day at a time.  Don't worry about how you are going to teach your child calculus, he's only 5."

"It is legal!"

"Listen to your instincts!"

"Trust your kids, and don't boss them around."

"For me, just coming to meetings and play groups has been very reassuring, even though my child was only two when we started."

"Don't listen to what The Man tells you...Just have a little fun in life-You'll learn a lot more from the real world than from a textbook."

"'THIS TOO SHALL PASS' is especially useful during difficult days."

"Being relaxed about having days where we do nothing school-like or structured is real progress for me."

"Growing Without Schooling is the best publication to read when beginning homeschooling, and as a continuing support. You get the whole spectrum."

"Home Education Magazine is an excellent magazine for resources, ideas, national homeschool issues, and a whole lot more." 

"Don't believe everything you read in homeschooling publications."

"Take vacations from your curriculum."

"Hang in there. We have good days and bad days, but it's still worth it."

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