Where to begin?

Composite Email of the Day:
My 7th or 8th kidlet is suffering from a mental health crisis [death in the family / divorce / depression / anxiety/ bullying/ etc.]. Said kidlet is also academically behind h** peers. We want to start homeschooling right now, but aren’t sure where to begin. Help!

Okay — so you already know you’re going to need to work on healing, and you’re probably quickly realizing that trying to do school work while *he’s in that transition is kind of a lost cause. I’m pointing this out to say this: that’s okay. There’s literally nothing that you can get h** to learn this year that *he can’t pick up when *he’s in a a better, more stable, emotionally and mentally healthier state.

I would focus on two things: English and math.

[And, if said kidlet is a 7th or 8th grader who you plan to put back into public school for highschool, WA/PNW History. Find out when your school system offers this class. It’s a highschool graduation requirement that’s generally offered in 7th or 8th grade. Some schools offer it online.
It’s really hard to transfer it as credit toward graduation. It’s not impossible, but it’s the one the schools fight the hardest against.
(And then it’s complicated to pick up in highschool, because so many of them don’t offer it at the highschool)
If you decide to homeschool WA/PNW History, get an agreement, in writing, from the highschool that details what you need to do for them to accept it as credit toward graduation.
Alternatively, if your school district offers it online, you have the right, as a homeschooler, to take courses on a part time basis, so you could potentially do this course online.].

Your kidlet probably slated to take Algebra I next year as a freshman.
What you need to be successful in highschool math is a pretty solid background in arithmetic.
Most math curricula for homeschoolers has a placement test (often online at the publisher’s website) to help you choose the correct level to place your student.
Other alternatives include things like Kumon (a Japanese math center with locations all over the US), or ALEKS (www.aleks.com)

Both of those allow your kidlet to proceed at her own pace. ALEKS runs about $40/mo, Kumon’s around $100. We used both at different points in our homeschooling.
(*he can also proceed at h** own pace with homeschool curricula).
How and what to choose is tougher. The right fit for my kidlet my be the completely wrong fit for yours.
I would try to include h** in the decision making process.
The Convention (the best place to get your hands and eyes on all the different things out there) isn’t until June. So the next best place to see things is with individuals in your local homeschool group.
We keep a list of those here: http://washhomeschool.org/homeschooli…/support-groups-co-ops

The question to ask in that case is, “We’re thinking about Saxon Math / Singapore /Life of Fred / etc. — does anyone have [approximate level] that we could look at?”
Someone has it. And at least one of those folks will be willing to meet you at the mall / coffee shop / park and let you see it.
If *he’s up to it, take your kidlet along to also look. The more “buy in” *he has in this process, the better your homeschooling is going to go.
On the English front, do two things:
Read stuff. Write stuff.
I know that sounds reductive (I used to be an English professor, if you can believe it) — but those are the two really important things to do. What you read and what you write is secondary to just doing it.
There’s TONS of fantastic young adult literature out there. Read it.
It’s probably good to introduce h** to research, and give h** an idea about documentation (they’ll cover this more extensively in highschool, so don’t sweat it too hard). If she likes non-fiction for reading — even better. But read stuff, and write stuff.
It might just be journaling, thank you cards, short pieces, poems — it doesn’t really matter what the writing is.
Concentrate on spelling, grammar, and punctuation, but don’t sweat this one too much.

Now I’m going to tell you something that’s really scary to hear.

There’s a process called “deschooling.” It’s a process for both of you. In general, it takes about 1 month for each of the years your kidlet was in school. So what I’m talking about is probably 9mos, in this case.
Deschooling is the process of stepping out of the institutional mindset and finding out what your relationship is in terms of being together all the time homeschooling.
Given the current mental health crisis, I would venture that this might take a little longer in your case.
For most people, deschooling looks a lot like summer vacation.
I tell you this to swing back around to where I started: your kidlet can’t learn anything until *he’s mentally and emotionally healthy.
It may be that that’s the only thing you guys can manage to do between now and September.

And I want you to know that that’s okay.
But it’s scary AF.

One final note: homeschooling can be kind of addictive. A lot of folks go in to it with the idea that they’ll just do one year, or part of a year, only to find that they really like the effect homeschooling has on the development of their kiddo.
This is not a bad thing.
However, it’s difficult to transfer courses to the highschool for credit toward graduation, and each year (starting next year), it gets a little harder.
So I always let folks know it’s easier to drop back out of highschool than it is to transfer in.
But employers and colleges are finding that homeschoolers are great additions to their workplaces and institutions, and so graduating from homeschooling is not at all a bad thing.
(Just maybe not something you’re quite ready to sign up for just yet).

~Jen GS