by Aza Donnelly, MHA Board member

So, now that you have read Amy’s post at

http://homeschoolers.org/getting-started-just-the-basics/
and know how to get started legally, I am going to give you a few pointers on what can come next for you. Whether you are homeschooling a 10 year old for the first time, or you are starting out with a pre K, it’s a process…….so Breath!

Deschool. Yes, I know, that old chestnut. But seriously, seasoned homeschoolers will tell you, it’s a constant process. In case you haven’t heard it before……
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deschooling
Because Wikipedia is always the authority, right? Deschooling is getting out of the school mindset. This link gives you a few authors to follow up with, but you can also ask about it on the Minnesota Homeschoolers Facebook page; several of us will talk all day about it, if you want.

One of the tools I use for deschooling is to actually read about all of the alternative education out there, and the theories they are based on. I know several homeschool parents who geek out hard on curriculum, and I think this is another way to deschool. The beauty of deschooling is that it helps you meet your child where they are, which is a great way to start your school year.

See below for my favorite alternatives to a traditional classroom. These ideas are generally used for the preK through second or third grade set, but I think they can be morphed into something for the older set, as well. Also, I have found for my kiddos that many of these theories were able to facilitate certain kinds of learning that are not skill sets I necessarily possess as a facilitator.

Reggio Emilia

http://www.aneverydaystory.com/beginners-guide-to-reggio-emilia/main-principles/
This is one of my very favorites, and I really wish I had found it when my kids were preschool age. It’s simple, natural, and frankly, does not at all have to be expensive. As kids get older it leads nicely into a more challenging Loose Parts Play, and then even STEM.
http://www.communityplaythings.com/resources/articles/2015/loose-parts
https://www.livescience.com/43296-what-is-stem-education.html
Pinterest is an amazing place for ideas and inspiration. For parents of special needs kids, there are lots of Sped. STEM projects on Pinterest if you are looking to adapt some projects or incorporate it into your therapies.

Unit Studies

Yes, I know, I always say this. Again, I love them. They are adaptable, flexible, portable. We did a unit study on “Avatar the Last Air Bender” when my kids were little. It mostly consisted of Asian food, however, I also think it catapulted my middle child into a love of Asian culture. Unit studies are a curriculum to most, I sort of embrace it as a lifestyle choice. Hot Tip — If you have autistic kids, Unit Studies are a great way to foster learning through special interests. Our current special interest is birds. This interest has lead us into art, geography (did you know that we live in the Mississippi Fly Way — the largest fly way in the US?) history, math, reading/researching, and science. Here is a link to a pretty indepth look at unit studies by a homeschool mom. https://wellplannedgal.com/what-are-unit-studies/

Play-Based Learning

We hear this term a lot for the younger set, nature preschools, playscapes, etc. But I think this can also be used as kids get older. Play sometimes evolves from making mud to LARPing in the park or DandD. The value of kids playing is well known, but often underestimated. Whether they are playing alone, with siblings, or with friends, lots of valuable learning happens during this time. So I give you this Wikipedia page:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_through_play
And this link which will give you places and people to play with all over MN:
https://www.hsadventures.org/

And, if you haven’t heard of Teacher Tom:
http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/

Parents of special needs kids…..

I realize that play can look different and have different needs for kids with special needs, learning disabilities, ASD, etc. I think of all the therapies out there that will get pitched at your kids to help them, Floortime is the gentlest and the easiest to implement at home. Literally, get down on the floor, and let your kids lead the game. Here is more information about the science and details of Floortime:

The Science of Greenspan Floortime

Here are a few other educational theories to ponder while you deschool this fall:

Charlotte Mason
Montessori
Waldorf
Classical
Unschooling
Eclectic

Take your time, play, ask questions, go on field trips, have bonfires, read books, watch shows, Breath.

There is no real way to get around that it is a lot of information, and it will feel overwhelming. Talk to seasoned homeschoolers; we love to chat. We love to tell you, “It’s going to be okay!!” And it really is! Enjoy this time, especially those of you starting out with 4 and 5 year olds. It goes so fast! And it’s so much fun!