Advice to the Parents of New Homeschoolers....

academic performance:

Accept your child for who your child is. He doesn't have to be brilliant, outgoing or wise. Nor does he have to graduate two years earlier just to prove that homeschooling is better than highschool.

Know that if your child is behind at school it doesn't mean either your or him are a failure. Nor does it necessarily mean homeschooling is bad for your child. Children learn at different speeds and there's tons of kids in school who fall behind too.

Grades are not everything. If you're making your child do normal testing, repeat the phrase "grades are not everything" at least twice a day.

socialization:

Accept that your child may not be as popular as you want. If your child is lonely, then look for ways to help her make friends, but if your child is content being on her own, then accept that.

Being popular is not the same as having social skills. As a homeschooling parent you may find yourself being pestered about whether or not your children have social skills. Do not let yourself start thinking that your child needs to be popular with other kids his or her own age in order to prove to these other parents that you are doing the right thing.

Social skills are different than popularity. Social skills involve knowing how to carry on a conversation, put up with people one doesn't like, and make patient suggestions to others. Ironically, schools may be the hardest place to really learn these things because one is locked up all day with other people who haven't yet learned those skills either. Allowing your child opportunities to be around people of all ages is probably much more beneficial. 

Let your child be herself. Teach her to love that self and to be compassionate to others. That, in my mind, are the only two social skills you need. Everything else comes with that.

three last suggestions:

When you're starting to homeschool, be sure to talk to your children about why you're doing it. Some children get the impression that they're being homeschooled because they're bad, or because school kids are bad. Either way, that's probably something you want to discuss with your child. If your child is being homeschooled because of how he or she was treated by his classmates in public school, then why not help your child find some way of forgiving his or her classmates, so he can make a clean start homeschooling?

If your child is homeschooling because of problems he or she had in school, particularly bullying, or problems with the teacher, then it is probably worth considering getting your child an appointment with a psychologist. School may be much more traumatizing to a child than parents realize, and sometimes the painful affects of it don't come out until later.

Encourage your child to pursue his or her interests. Hobbies can be as valuable as schoolwork if not more so. How else is your child going to pick a career later in life, but by looking at his hobbies and interests? This is one of the key strengths of my family. My older brother started flying remote control airplanes when he was twelve, gliding when he was fourteen, and taking flying lessons by age sixteen. Now he's 22 and has his commercial pilots license, and is teaching flying. My younger brother is sixteen. His passion is sound and film equipment. He's helped out doing sound and lights for local dance shows for a few years and is currently working part time at it. As for me? I've had a fascination with history for a few years now, and currently have a job doing research for a historic society. It's not necessarily something I'll continue my whole life, but its a great project for now. I recently had a college friend comment to me that she'd like to get a "real job". As soon as I heard her say that, the only thought that could resonated within me was "how can one get a real job without having some sort of passion or interest?".

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