Leslie Nathaniel : I am Leslie Nathaniel, homeschooling, mother of two children and a member of the Board of Directors for the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers. I am talking about how to begin homeschooling your child. In this segment, I will talk about turning your home into a learning environment to support homeschooling. You don't need to have a formal classroom to home school and many families find that their learning takes place in nearly every room in the house. Other families find that having a space set aside for learning helps them to focus and allows them ready access to ongoing projects.
When you first begin thinking about homeschooling, it can be helpful to remember that most homes with children already have many resources for learning. Books and maps, puzzles and videos, measuring cups and dice, art supplies, magnifying glasses and nature field guides, paper, pencils and pens. These are the just some of the resources that form a foundation for homeschooling. Access to a kitchen and running water makes simple science experiment fun and clean up easy. A computer and Internet access, whether at home or at the library, brings the resources of the world right to your screen. Many resources are available free on the Internet or your local library making homeschooling affordable for nearly every family.
Think about where your child will be most comfortable when you work at different tasks and don't be limited by the school model of sitting still at a desk. Reading lessons can happen curled up on the couch or on the grass outside. It might be more comfortable to work with maths sprawled on a living room floor or to practice fractions with measuring cups while you bake cookies in the kitchen. Math manipulatives can be store box, specialty resources or a mix of pebbles, acorns marbles and coins. Some families create a reading nook in a comfortable corner stocked with pillows and a basket or two of books. An area with simple art supplies your child can reach makes it easy for your child to illustrate a story or work on writing skills.
A bag or basket with binoculars, magnifying glass and field guides can make it easy to head out on a nature walk, whether around your neighborhood, at a stream of river or a nearby park. Maps on the walls and a globe nearby help children locate current events and settings of their favorite stories. Curriculum materials can be simple or elaborate. In a later segment we'll talk more about choosing resources that work well for your child. Some families worry about the cost of homeschooling and how it will fit into the family budget, especially if they expect to buy a lot of equipments and books. Your child doesn't need a special desk or chair to homeschool, you don't need to buy a lot of books.
It's possible to combine home education with life and recreational vehicles or boat, as some families have a mobile homeschooling lifestyle proving that homeschooling doesn't necessarily take a lot of space and gear. If your home has enough space for a separate learning room, it can be a handy way to contain your books and resources. A separate learning space can also eliminate the dilemma you'll face at dinner time, if you built a model of Egypt on the dinning room table. If you don't have that kind of space available, short-term projects can go on a folding table that stores out of sight when not needed. You can take photographs of extra special efforts, then say good-bye to the real life version that takes up more space than you have. You can mail artwork to grandparents and friends to appreciate. If you do a lot of school work on the go, perhaps in the library or a local coffee shop or while waiting for siblings in lessons and practices, it can be helpful to store regularly used resources in a backpack or tow bag, so you can transport them easily. A shelf, hook or bin can store your gear when you return home. The most important part of turning your home into a learning environment is the atmosphere you establish, a parent's sense of adventure and delight, combined with curiosity can set the stage for all kinds of successful learning. Add a few good resources and you will be on your way.
In our next segment, I will show you how to choose curriculum materials to support your educational goals.