Freestyle Homeschooling Tips

Posted by Annie on Jul 21, 2011 in Education, Parenting |

We’ve all heard of traditional homeschooling where mom sits at the kitchen table, the children are gathered around, workbooks open and curriculum flows as if the children never left the public school system. Mom and dad believe if it’s good enough for Johnny, it’s good enough for my Henry, too.

Unschool Your Teen by Diane Flynn KeithDid anyone ever bother to ask Henry? Maybe Johnny has different goals and, more importantly, a different learning style than Henry.

Joe has been a difficult child from the beginning – he has a mind of his own. His parents have tried everything from public school, parochial school, private school, independent study, to charter school — but nothing seemed to fit and home was a generational battleground between parent and child. Finally, Joe’s parents stumbled upon Unschooling and a child-led approach to school – after all, not much was being accomplished anyway. Joe has no interest in education, period.

How does a parent decide? We all want the best for our children. However, many parents are too afraid of the unknown that they aren’t even willing to consider making appropriate changes in their child’s educational instruction.

I have recommended many of Diane Flynn Keith’s products over the years because I believe in her educational approach. As an educational expert, she has created many  quality educational products that I have had the pleasure of either using or sampling personally. For instance, Diane Flynn Keith’s, Unschool Your Teen Audio-Seminar & Resource Guide is one of my favorites. Diane and her expert speaker panel make it all sound so easy — so doable.

I know that when most people think of Unschooling, Sandra Dodd’s, “Radical Unschooling,” comes to mind. Diane does not advocate a child-led curriculum in  the true  sense of the word “child-led”.   Her own philosophy (as I understand it) is more to my own way of thinking. I learned a long time ago that children don’t have a clue what they like and they don’t like. (But they think they do.) So, we might have to encourage them to try something new.

Diane has taught me to really pay attention to my son. We took her advice to find out his learning style, once we knew how he learns best, it helped us to expand his options. When you really spend time talking with your child and learning more about his personality,  interests and goals,  a parent can offer suggestions and encourage their child in avenues they might have never considered under different circumstances. [Discover Your Child’s Learning Style]

Diane has taught me to be more of a cheerleader, coach, parent and advisor all rolled into one. The Unschool Your Teen Guide is simply fabulous. Her sub-title is a terrific fit, “Rethink, Redefine, and Reinvent the Teen Years!” If the same old thing just isn’t working, what have you got to lose? Try something new. There are so many opportunities for young people these days. It would be nice to have a road map or instructional manual…but each child is different.

My son is like many young people I know these days,  and to be honest, I had  them,  too; a fear of rejection, not fitting in and the worst fear of all — a fear of trying new things. (And parents are even worse than the kids at not being willing to try something new.) Diane  knows how to make education fun! She knows how to get the kids involved and pique  their curiousity.  I wish I had half of her energy and creativity. She is one of the most generous and inspiring  people I know.

I can’t tell you how many untold numbers of hours Mrs. Keith spends daily helping homeschoolers to find their way. I am positive someday my son will thank her personally. She believes in not only her own children’s ability to succeed but every child whose life she has touched. I am certain I am a much better parent because of her assistance.

Notice I didn’t say the best education money can buy. Money can’t buy an education, no matter how many times the NEA and the CDE tell us they do. Education takes time, devotion, dedication, perseverance and creativity. Diane  has all that in spades. Diane has demonstrated a lifelong passion for children. She never hesitates to offer her assistance to a struggling homeschooling child.   She only recently began a coaching career that by all rights, she should have started 20+ years ago.

She also shares daily links with subscribers to her ClickSchooling e-Zine. More than 20,000 parents are already subscribed. Of course, those parents know a good thing when they find one.

Do yourself a favor though. Don’t call Diane until you are ready for change. She is straight-forward with her advice and somehow she always manages to get right to the heart of the matter. However, if you are ready and willing to really help your struggling teen to succeed — don’t wait another day. The advice she has given me over the past ten-years has been the most helpful to me as a parent, bar none.

Don’t let the term  “Unschooling”  fool you, this is all about giving your child the tools they need to succeed. If you are looking for a step-by-step instruction manual, keep on looking, this is not for you. Every child is different! Don’t let anyone ever tell you they know more about your child than you do — and Diane will tell you exact same thing. Her coaching is more about putting the parents on the right track — the children will follow in their footsteps.

I like to call what we do “Freestyle Homeschooling“. We homeschool as we live our lives, one-day at a time. We make plans but we aren’t afraid to change them mid-stream if they need adjusting and sometimes  that means  abandoning those plans all-together.

Freestyle Homeschooling Tips

  • Listen More – As parents, we should talk less and listen more. When our children talk to us it gives them a chance to learn to better express themselves. Being able to hold a conversation with someone for more than two-minutes takes practice. Let them use their words, and when able to, ask open-ended questions where a simple yes or no will not suffice.
  • Offer Suggestions – Parents often make demands of our children, when a simple suggestion would be well-received by our teen. All teens need practice making good decisions. We encourage our son to make as many decisions for himself as we feel he is able.
  • Be an Encourager – I am ashamed  to  tell you how many times I’ve been critical to my son, when what he really needed was my encouragement. Grandma always said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Sometimes we need to hold our tongues if we can’t say something positive to our child. They will endure enough criticism out in the harsh world.
  • Try Something New – If your current educational program isn’t working out for your child, change it. Try something new. Do not live in fear, be brave and explore new educational options. Keep trying until you find something that really suits your child and keep in mind that what works for one child might not be appropriate for another.
  • Ask Questions – When I was a new parent, I asked lots and lots of questions. No parent knows it all. If you find you are in over your head, get help, ask questions and don’t stop asking until you get the answers you need. And don’t limit yourself to asking the experts. Ask your child for their input, as well.
  • Have Fun – And most importantly, as Diane would suggest, keep it fun. Education that is memorable is enjoyable. It doesn’t have to be a huge drag. Of course, some projects are more fun than others but Diane has proven to me over and over again that anything can be made to be fun.


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