How do I start homeschool? 5 steps to an easy start

I love homeschooling, I have been doing it for five years. I remember the fear and insecurity because I wanted to do the very best for my child. I remember all the doubts: How I can do it?, It is easy?, What about books, curriculum?, What if I do wrong?, what..  How… but I don’t know… I can tell if you are thinking these questions, you are a good mom. You want the very best for your child.

1) The very first step is to check your state laws and regulations. You can do it online visiting http://www.hslda.org/hs/default.asp

2) Identify your child learning style. To do so you can think the way your child learns something.

  1. a) Your child can be kinesthetic if she/he move all the time, can do two things at the same time. The kinesthetic learner is hands on and very active. You can complement or modify your curriculum to use dance, hands on labs and activities, drama. These students struggle to learn sited but thrive on therapy balls that allow movement. They can learn time tables by jumping. Mom would need to be flexible to allow out of the box ideas and learning environment. These students may need to stand up to write and concentrate. Some would memorize better if they walk and read at the same time.
  2. b) If your child like to play video games all day long, love to draw, and he has a photographic memory it can be a visual learner. These students need to write notes, draw concepts, they must make a diagram to visualize a concept.
  3. c) Do your kid love music and sounds? These students learn using sounds. They listen and learn. They also will work better with music. Mom would need to be flexible because this student needs to read out aloud in order to process and understand.
  4. d) Do your child love Legos, blocks, puzzles and other manipulatives games? These are the tactile students. They learn better when they touch and use all the senses. They need to be able to explore their lessons with their hands.

Your child can have one style or a mixed style. My son is a visual and kinesthetic learner. It’s a fun and demanding combination.

After you identify your child’s learning style, it will be easy to select a curriculum or design your own one focusing on your child’s strengths. Please remember homeschool can be fun and flexible. My recommendation would be for elementary school use games, songs, nature, fun. This will help your child to enjoy learning. Middle school can be more rigorous fomenting independence, but don’t forget to have fun. High school would be the most rigorous and independent, focus on skills for college and adulthood. Yes, it can be fun too.

3) Get support. I love this one, I enjoy my time on homeschool support groups. You can find them on yahoo groups, Facebook even on Instagram. I like that we share experiences, information about curriculums, get a virtual hug on difficult days and even organize field trips. There is also co-ops on different cities, towns, and states. Don’t do it alone!

4) Write down all your reasons to do homeschool.

5) Ignore all the critique, even when homeschool is legal in all USA, there is a lot of misinformation and confusion. Shake up all that and focus, go vent on your support group then read your reasons to homeschool and enjoy the ride.

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A dad’s view of Homeschool

Homeschool. This is a “two-word” word that for us who grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s did not mix.  For us “Home” and “School” had two different connotations. “Home” was the place where we loved to stay, have fun with friends without any worrisome at all. While “School” was more of an obligation, learning subjects and taking tests.

Now, the first time my wife mentioned she was thinking about Homeschooling as an option for our son, my reaction was like, “well, sounds good but what does it need to be done?”. What about his therapies? What about social interaction with other kids? After all, he’ll be at home by himself and mom. Also, what about my wife’s mental sanity? It is tough already to be the mom of a kid with special needs, so now having the responsibility of our son’s education.

Those were some of the questions and concerns that I had in my mind when I realized that the mere thought of a potential idea was becoming a stronger reality. In fact, each one of those questions was a big thing by itself. So at this time, I’ll just pick one of the questions… What about social interaction with other kids?

One of the biggest challenges of the Autism Spectrum Disorder is the social interaction with others, especially with peers. My son has a decent interaction with adults and younger kids, but when it comes to peers, it is his biggest challenge in life. I guess part of it is because most of his “bad” experiences while growing up happened with kids of his age. I think it was the combination between his limited speech ability and his likes were more childish than other peers. I always thought that continuous contact with other kids eventually will magically “fix” the social interaction issue, but let me be honest, after six years between pre-pre-school and 3rd grade the improvement was not that significant. On top of that, “bullying” did not help the case either. My son’s behavior got affected at school and at home. He did not want to go to the park or any other places where other kids might be. Actually, the “bullying” experience was the drop that spilled the cup. After that awful experience, my wife and I were determined to pursue homeschooling.

After making the decision to start homeschool, we had to decide how we’re going to compensate the interaction with other kids. The first step towards that was to enroll him in swimming and track & field practices through the Recreational and Park District. These practices were awesome because not only helped him to interact with other kids, but they will count for PE class credit. Our son loves the fine arts. Piano, singing, painting and acting classes are among his favorites. After several months of homeschool and extracurricular activities, we started to notice a huge improvement in his behavior at home and with other kids. In fact, he wanted to go to his swimming practices and acting classes to share with other kids.

What at the beginning was a “BIG” concern for my wife and me, transformed into the BEST decision regarding our son had we ever made? But it does not happen in a vacuum. Most of the credit, if not all, goes to my wife. She has developed an awesome attitude in my son to handle the difficult challenges in life, including school stuff.

If you and/or your spouse have the heart and patience, should consider homeschool.  Now a day there are so many resources you can find on the internet to make it work. The start of the journey is rough, but the final outcome is amazing.

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5 ways to support your child with Autism

Autism is an adventure and you need to be well equipped to have success on the journey. My son was diagnosed twelve years ago and there was little information. Now, we have more information but still we need to battle prejudice, misconception and mistrust.  I remember myself trying to find good information beside all the dark future. This “autism adventure” is full of emotions. Some are good, some not so much.  In my journey I have learned a lot, but I always try to keep myself neutral using my professional knowledge. Today I will share with you my top 5 ways to support your child with autism. These ones do not require a position on the spectrum. These ones are for you to keep them near, especially for the times where everything looks wrong.

  1. Make a balance: it’s complicated. Listen to all the professionals and their recommendations but also, think, research and balance. Make a balance, write the possible consequences and think again if that is something worth battle or to follow.
  2. Trust your gut feelings: Over the years I have met so many parents that tell me “I have that gut feeling” sometimes you need to trust your guts. Intuition is a gift and most parents have it but we are afraid to challenge those who are supposed to know better because they are professionals. Really, but do you know that most of the successful people is because they challenged and trusted their gut feeling. You can be wrong but you can also be right. So, if you have a “gut feeling”, write it down and go back to make a balance.
  3. Trust your knowledge. You don’t need a degree to know your kid. Most likely you have been there 24/7 and have learn what every sound means. I remember when my son did not talk, doctors told me I was his voice and I was trying to solve for him. It was true, because I was with him 24/7. Should I stop, should that make me a “helicopter mom”, maybe, but it helped him. If I don’t help him, who will? Now that he is more capable, I allow him to talk but I’m still here to help. I always remember to make a balance and trusted my gut
  4. Your child is unique. There is no other child like yours. Your child has a purpose in life, but do you believe it? Or are you listening to the fears? Do you know fear is a paralyzing guy? Fear never conquered the world. Forget the “what ifs?” And remember to trust you child, your gut and make a balance.
  5. Forget crazy propaganda. There will be someone looking for a cause, cure or someone to blame autism on. Reality is it will depend on your perspective. My reality is different than yours but I can help you sharing what I have done. In this adventure is important to learn and be open minded but you also need to be careful. Good intentions are not always good for you. Read and remember the “gut feeling”, balance, trust your child and move on.
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