Homeschooling & Unschooling- the Why & the How?

It is amazing how you can look at any situation and think “This is happening for me” which, in a way, all of life is happening for you not to you. If you take a step back and see that there is power there – knowing that there is a plan for you and it’s time to embrace it.

Due to COVID-19 our family martial arts school in NYC is closed, we’ve left the city and are experiencing a major refocusing. It is uncomfortable and there have been times when I’ve woken up crying, spiraling down the poor me tunnel and wishing things were easier. HA, how embarrassing and ungrateful that is….everyday I make a conscious effort to dwell in GRATITUDE and abundance for the things I’ve been given, so I can avoid the self – indulgent path. People have had (and are having) far greater challenges than this. We are blessed with complete abundance of health, family and faith.

It’s been said that the quality of your life is determined by the questions that you ask yourself. (Thank you Tony Robbins). Asking empowering questions motivate people to move forward, lame questions – like “why me?’ make one a victim of circumstances.

What are your empowering questions that are steering you towards a better version of yourself? Mine are:

  • How can I help my children tap into their power and be as great as they can possibly be
  • How can I be a better wife & mother?
  • How can I love myself more fully and completely?
  • How can I serve more people? How can I be more disciplined?
  • Can I defend myself and my family if need be?
  • Can I provide food for my family?

The uncomfortable and undeniable answer to the last two questions is NO. Although I’ve spent years learning stuff, I have very few actual life skills. I cannot hunt, I cannot fish, I cannot build shelter, I cannot make fire and I cannot identify the plants in my area……in other words I am completely reliant on others for my basic human needs. This is completely unacceptable. Thank God, we’ve been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for years, which has helped me have a platform for understanding strategy and practical hand to hand combat skills.

Rather than wallow in the idiocy of this predicament the realization has sunk in that there is no time like the present to arm ourselves with REAL LIFE SKILLS.

What better time to homeschool or Unschool? No work, fewer distractions and the intense and burning desire to get some life skills and avoid the indoctrination of subjects that are absolutely irrelevant. My husband has been talking about homeschooling for a long time but we never pulled the trigger. It is amazing what you will put up with because it is easy. Sometimes it take a major life event to shake you from your duldrum. Although I didn’t love the education the kids were receiving, I felt that it was sufficient enough to get the job done. This is not a reason to offer up your most treasured resources to the state.

Reasons we chose to avoid the public school curriculum for 2020 – 21:

  • Individual choice for curriculum
  • Want the kids to explore their unique passions
  • Want them to spend more time outdoors / less time on screens
  • Do not want them recorded in any classroom
  • Want to avoid unnecessary anxiety about covid
  • Do not want them wearing masks in school

Now that I know Why we are homeschooling, the next step is How?

Step I. The first thing that I did once we made up our minds to homeschool was to go online and join a bunch of facebook groups for homeschooling in our area. All of the following information came from parents who have been doing this for a while and are eager to help. Finding a community is by far the most important first step in my opinion.

Step II: Let your Superintendent know that you intend to homeschool. Here is an example of the letter that I sent:

Step III. Submit an: Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP) Required # of hours:  Grades 1-6   900 hours per year / Grades 7-12   990 hours per year.

Here is an example of an IHIP for a 7th grader. I have been informed to not cite any specific programs and / or resources in case you change your plan mid – way you do not want to be locked into anything too specific.

Grade Level: 7

Quarterly reports will be submitted November 2020, January 2021, April 2021 and June 2021.

Basic curricula and resources: Freya will use a variety of methods and tools in her education this academic year, in compliance with Section 100.10 of the Regulations of the New York State Commissioner of Education. The topics will include, but may not be limited to the subjects required by the Regulations. Freya will attend the equivalent of at least 990 hours of instruction. Instruction will be provided by Freya’s mother, your name here, and other instructors as necessary.

Mathematics: Freya will continue to learn mathematics through a hands-on approach using resources including but not limited to games, workbooks, online programs, apps and worksheets.

English: 7th Grade Freya will continue improving her reading skills by using books suited to her interest and reading level. While some books will be from home, she will also use the public library as a resource.

Grammar: Freya will continue to improve her grammar using workbooks, reading & games/ games, correction and review of misspelled words in everyday writing, and use of the dictionary to learn the spelling and meaning of words.

Writing: Freya will create stories, poems, lists, notes, cards, letters and emails. She will continue her formal writing course and add creative writing this year.

English language: Freya will explore the English language through the writing and dramatization of original plays, stories and poems. She will participate in discussions on various topics of interest, including, but not limited to her current reading and ethics. She will research topics of interest on the internet and in the public library.

Logic: Freya will begin an introductory Logic course this year, using a formal textbook course with extra activities online.

Geography: Freya will learn world and New York State geography through travel and studies of both maps and the globe. Emphasis will be on local and New York State geography and history.

Modern World History and NY State History: Freya will continue her chronological study of world history while adding in-depth New York State history this year through the use of local hiking and tours, books, videos, and online sources.

Science: Freya will study science by participating in online classes, workshops and special events, as well as home experiments.

Health education: Freya will learn by studying healthy living practices, nutrition, planning healthy meals, shopping, cooking and cleaning.

Music: Freya will study music through online learning, usage of Garage band and tutoring from a professional. 

Visual arts: Freya will create arts and crafts projects at home and will study great artists and their works from books and other resources. She will also receive private instruction from a Professional artist. 

Physical education: Freya will continue martial arts training with her family at home, namely Kickboxing & Jiu Jitsu. 

Freya will learn about the following subjects in classes, books and through home instruction: patriotism and citizenship, alcohol, drug and tobacco misuse, highway safety and traffic regulations and fire and arson prevention and safety.

Sincerely,

Laurel Carroll

Parent and Instructor

IV. Speak with the school liason. Our school liason has been extremely helpful & supportive. She has made general suggestions about resources (because I asked) and was very encouraging about the homeschooling process and results. She encouraged me to RELAX, do not obsess about curriculum and have fun.

I’ll be following up with more tips and tools that I’ll be learning on the ground. Would love to hear what you have going on?

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