It has come to my attention that the homeschooling community may need some guidelines. You know, to keep things running smoothly. To that end, I give you The 10 Commandments of Homeschooling. As per my usual way of doing things, there’s a little humor and a little seriousness, so read at your own risk.
1. Thou shalt socialize thy children.
That’s the cardinal rule of homeschooling, right? If you really want to buck the system, though, I’ve got tips for making sure you raise the weird, unsocialized version of homeschooled kids.
2. Thou shalt not allow thy library fines to rival the national debt.
We’ve kind of come to the point of deciding that it’s just cheaper and easier for me to buy the books we need on Amazon and keep them as long as we need them. Did you know you can trade them in now? I haven’t tried that yet, but I’m thinking about it.
If you insist on going to the library, though, make yourself renewal reminders on Google calendar or your iPhone. Don’t make the library put up wanted posters with your name on them. That’s just embarrassing.
3. Thou shalt drive a 15-passenger van or at least a minivan.
I think I’m probably about to get kicked out of the National Homeschooling Moms Society. You know, since I decided that my kids could cram into the back of a Ford Edge so that I could, after 13 years, drive something that I enjoy driving. You probably need to wear the right clothes, too.
4. Remember the Sabbath, and take a break.
Every living thing needs rest. Even fields need to lie fallow some years in order to continue to produce. As homeschool parents, we often try to function on too little rest, but that’s often counter-productive. I have discovered that I am much more productive when I get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
However, it’s not just nightly rest that we need to consider. There is one change that I made in our homeschool a few years ago that has had a huge impact on our school – ours is mostly year round homeschooling with a six weeks on/one week off schedule. That is one of the best decisions that I ever made for our homeschool and I wish I’d done it from the beginning. It means that we start our school year mid-summer, but that regular time off is such a benefit that no one complains about the early start date.
5. Thou shalt not be a slave to thy curriculum.
Sometimes, even after great research, a curriculum choice is not a good fit. There are certainly things to consider before changing curriculum because often some simple tweaks can make it work for your family. However, if it’s not working, don’t be afraid to ditch it and find something that will work. Enjoying your curriculum makes for a much better homeschool experience.
6. Thou shalt not kill thy child’s love of learning.
Sometimes we moms suck all the fun out of learning by trying to follow what we’re “supposed” to be doing or making sure all the little boxes get checked. There is definitely a time and a place for box-checking and we don’t need to ignore the basics, but I believe there is great value in following your child’s interests when you can and trying to find curriculum that works well with his learning style.
7. Thou shalt not take thy children out in public during school hours.
I mean, you can do what you want, but be prepared to answer questions such as, “Are you out of school today?” or “Is it spring break already?”
Okay, I’ll be honest and say that we live in a very homeschool-friendly area. We are generally at home doing school during regular school hours, but I don’t avoid taking the kids out if we have things to do and we are rarely quizzed. However, I frequently hear comments from other homeschooling families in other parts of the country who do hear those questions, so consider yourself warned.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
It is extremely important that homeschooling parents understand – and abide by – copyright laws. We’re a frugal bunch, but we need to make sure we’re being frugal ethically. Most consumable student workbooks are intended for use by one student. Some homeschool curriculum allows you to make copies for your immediate family, but not a complete copy of the resource with the intent to resell the original.
Most CD-based curriculum or student resources are not allowed to be resold. A lot of us think that homeschool curriculum companies are large operations. Some are, but a great many are more of the mom-and-pop variety, and the publishers are homeschooling families just like you and me, who produce great content out of their love for homeschooling. We want to treat them with integrity and make sure our frugality doesn’t put them out of business.
9. Thou shalt ensure thy child knows his approximate grade level.
If she doesn’t, you run the risk of that blank, deer-in-the-headlights look when some well-meaning person tries to make conversation by asking your child what grade level she’s in. You could just make it a first-day of school ritual to review current grade levels. <– That’s a joke. Mostly.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s homeschool.
Don’t compare your family to the homeschool family down the road, your cousin’s homeschool, or the homeschool family on your favorite blog. For one thing, those glossy, Pinterest-worthy photos only tell part of the story. For another, your family is unique. Your kids have their own unique gifts and talents. If all kids learned the same, we wouldn’t need a gazillion curriculum choices. If all were academics, whose art would make our world beautiful? If all were artists, who would run our businesses?
You and your children are exactly who God designed you to be. Capitalize on your areas of gifting and talent without neglecting the rest.
What would you add – you know, if there were 11 commandments?