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  1. #1
    Junior Member Newbie
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    Nov 2017
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    PA
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    Question Big Life Changes and a huge interest in homeschooling

    Hi everyone! My name is Miriam and I am a mom of 3 kids- 7,9, and 12. We are currently in CT, and after 9 years we are ready for a new place. We have chosen Pittsburgh, where my husband is from, or the surrounding outskirts. I have been looking into homeschool for a while, but now I really want to get into the details to see if I can pull it off- and here is why. All 3 of my children are different. All are either not interested in school, bored or only excited about the social part. I want them to have a better learning experience. I don't know the first thing yet, am afraid I won't have the patience to manage 3 kids and their different needs, but I want to give them the right fit for each of them.

    I am excited to hear there is a homeschool community in Pittsburgh but I need to learn a lot more about how a typical week might run- how to book the social and learning opportunities with others and manage my own expectations of myself as a teacher/guide.

    Hi hanks for having me here and please do tell me how long it took you to settle into homeschooling.

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  3. #2

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    Hi there and welcome to the forums! It's a bit slow here this week due to the holiday I suppose, but I'm sure others will chime in too soon.

    One of the first things you will need to look into are the homeschooling laws in PA. It looks like there is a good amount of oversight but also some concessions. So some hoops will need to be jumped like a yearly affidavit, portfolios, testing and tracking instructional hours but you will be allowed to participate in public school activities like band and sports.

    PA Homeschooling laws

    I honestly cannot even begin to comment on the homeschool community in Pittsburgh. I haven't even been to Pittsburgh in over 20 years lol, but don't limit yourself to just homeschool groups and activities. A lot of new homeschoolers get stuck in the rut of trying to find "activities for homeschoolers" but just because you are homeschooling doesn't mean you need to limit yourself to only activities for homeschoolers. Yes, it is nice to mingle with like-minded people sometimes but you are allowed to participate in things that are not specifically for homeschoolers as well!

    It usually takes most people a few years to feel like they really have a handle on homeschooling. The first year is usually a rough year while everyone is getting used to this new way of doing things. You will probably end up making lots of changes and tweaks trying to find the right combination of things that works for you and your kids. Don't be too discouraged if at the end of the first year of homeschooling, you feel like nothing went how you thought it would. Just keep swimming along and learning as you go. Each year it will get easier and easier to choose the right curricula for each child the first time instead of having to keep switching trying to find the right one.

    The only child I have left at home still homeschooling is pre-k/kindergarten age so I feel like my current typical week is irrelevant to your current situation. But when my now-young adult/teen kids were about your kids' ages, we did history, science, music and art as a group. I would make the assignments for each subject age appropriate but we did the readings and demonstrations as a group. For example, I would read a portion of our current history read aloud to all of them. The 7yo would label a map and do a coloring page. The 9yo would label the map in more detail and do an oral narration of which they would do some or all of it as copy work independently. And the 12yo would do some research on the topic of our reading and write 2 or 3 paragraphs about what they learned.

    They each had their own math and language arts tailored to them. I would teach each of them individually for the most part (sometimes I could combine a lesson but not often). Usually our mornings consisted of individual lessons, afternoons were for group lessons or fun and messy experiments. The older they got, the more I could just give them assignments and let them come to me with questions as needed. But this independence had to be taught, it wasn't something that just happened naturally for any of my six kids.

    I hope this helps a little.

  4. #3

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    Welcome!

    Pennsylvania is generally seen as one of the hardest states to homeschool in, but I would say that's because the regulation is mostly very lax nationwide, with many states not requiring anything. I have known people there who feel it's stressful and others who feel it's easy, so I think a lot of it is the mindset. It's a good reason to hook up with the community there though - there's a lot of informal mentoring on how to jump through the hoops happening (and some more formal - I know there are consultants who just do PA). Don't let it discourage you - just be aware going in that there are hoops.

    Definitely take some time to deschool if you end up jumping into homeschooling. You can read up on it by searching. There's a "rule of thumb" that's one month for every year spent in school, but I'd discard that. Take a month, see if you need more is my general advice. Deschooling is for you as well as the kids. It can also have as much or as little structure as you want - some families need a break from the constant structure, others need to keep some or everything will become chaos. It's a good time to make friends and try activities as well.

    In terms of what a day looks like - it's really up to you. By age 12, most families who aren't doing intentional unschooling are going to want to have a pretty clear block of time set aside for "school" every day. But at the other end of your age range, at 7, some families don't do much at all. It's hard to give advice here about this because so many things work for different families and there's no right answer. Some different structures you might see could include:

    * Keep them all together for content subjects (history, social studies, science, etc.) and scale what you're doing, or gear it toward the oldest and let the others tag along
    * Set aside a time in the morning when you do school and keep it very set by not doing outside activities during that time
    * Some families do a little science and social studies every day, but many have a "science day" and a "history day" where they do a longer block, others do science for a semester and then social studies for a semester and alternate the two
    * You might engage your oldest with an online class (there are a lot of options nowadays) while you work with your youngest on basic skills like reading and early math

    But that's just a few thoughts. As my kids get older and more teenagery, we've moved from doing school all early in the morning in a long block before going out for the day to having it in chunks later in the day, including in the late afternoon since they sleep in a lot. No one right way, basically.

    I hope homeschooling works out for you! It can be a great way to get closer with your kids and foster curious learners.
    Want to read about my homeschool?
    http://farrarwilliams.wordpress.com
    Children's Books, Homeschooling and Random Musings...

    Want help homeschooling or sending kids to college?
    http://simplify4you.com/

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Big Life Changes and a huge interest in homeschooling