Getting Started Homeschooling
Maybe you’ve considered homeschooling your children, but you have no idea where to begin. Homeschooling can seem like a big, scary deal and if you’re not familiar with how to go about it, you can feel lost and overwhelmed.
This leaf was designed with you in mind. As a homeschooling mom with over fifteen years experience, I want to take you by the hand and walk you through the process of getting started with homeschooling.
It’s not as hard as it sounds, but it helps to have a little guidance to get the ball rolling. Consider this your checklist for setting up your school.
Image by cottonridge on Flickr creative commons
Before you take any actions steps, it’s important that you take the time to educate yourself about homeschooling. This leaf will help you get started on that education, but at the bottom you will also find links to other leaves that will share even more information about homeschooling. Learn as much as you can before you set out on this adventure. Before you attempt to educate your children, you must educate yourself.
I wish I'd had this book when I first started homeschooling. Veteran homeschooling parents share their thoughts about things they wish they had done differently when they started homeschooling, as well as some things they did well. This is a treasure trove of wisdom.
Actress-turned-homeschooling-mom, Lisa Whelchel, shares stories about homeschooling families that illustrate how anyone can homeschool regardless of their unique challenges or life situations. The book addresses many of the common questions about homeschooling including time management and teaching children of various ages.
A homeschooling mom and advocate shares everything you need to know in the first year of homeschooling so you'll be ready to stick with it for the second year.
If you're married, the decision to homeschool needs to be a joint decision. If one spouse is not on board and supportive, it's just not going to work out well.
If your husband (or wife) doesn't want to homeschool or is riding the fence, you might find this article helpful.
The first step of the process is determining your reasons for homeschooling. I’d suggest that you write them down to help clarify your thoughts.
Defining your reasons for homeschooling also helps you determine if the reasons are valid. For example, maybe you’re homeschooling because you think it’s the best education you can offer your children. That’s a good, solid reason to choose home education. But maybe you’re opting to homeschool because your child doesn’t like his or her current teacher. That’s more of a temporary problem and committing to homeschooling might not be the best solution. In that case, you might want to consider other options like having a conference with the teacher, taking the issues to higher authorities, or helping your child work through his or her feelings and emotions.
Whatever your reasons, understand that homeschooling requires commitment so make sure that you have strong enough reasons to help you stick with it during the hard times.
Once you know why you want to homeschool, it’s time to get a picture in your mind of what you hope the end product will be. Your vision is like your destination. Once you know where you’re headed, you’ll be able to take the necessary steps to get there.
Visions can be long term or short term or both. These are some examples:
I will homeschool for twelve years and graduate students who are healthy, happy, productive members of society.
I will homeschool for one year in hopes that I can improve my child’s reading ability.
A vision becomes especially important if you see yourself homeschooling for a long time. It keeps you on track.
Image courtesy of ShelahD on Flickr creative commons
Homeschooling is legal in the U.S., but each state has its own laws about how to go about it. Almost all states require that you register in some way.
Some things that might vary from state to state:
-Annual standardized testing. Not all states require it, but those that do may only accept certain tests.
-Annual reporting. Some states have minimal requirements while others require extensive recordkeeping and portfolios.
-The freedom to operate independently versus a requirement to be part of an umbrella school
-Choice of curricula
Before you begin homeschooling it’s important to find out your state’s legal requirements and abide by those laws.
HSLDA exists to help homeschooling families who encounter legal challenges. While most homeschooling families are able to go about their business without interference, home educating is still not the mainstream way of educating so occasionally homeschoolers face issues that require legal intervention. This is where HSLDA steps in to help.
While it’s not mandatory to join, it is recommended as a safeguard for the unexpected.
Again, this isn’t a mandatory step, but it would be a very helpful one. At a homeschool conference you get the benefit of gleaning wisdom from experienced people about how to homeschool. You also get a chance to look at curriculum and hold it in your hands. Not to mention, this is a great way to connect with other homeschooling families in your area.
You can find lists of conferences at the following sites.
Image courtesy of jimmiehomeschoolmom on Flickr creative commons
This may well be your hardest step. Curriculum choices abound and sometimes it’s hard to narrow them down to what will actually work with your family. This is why it’s good to visit a homeschool conference or book fair so you can actually see and handle the curriculum. Plus, you often get to talk with the curriculum’s creator or get opinions from other parents who have used it.
Some things to consider when choosing curriculum:
-Your child’s learning style. Do you have an auditory, visual, or hands-on learner? The better you know your child, the easier it will be to find the right approach.
-Ease of use. If you’re just starting out, simple curriculum is better. You can get more complicated once you’ve got a good grasp on homeschooling.
-Stick to the basics. Cover the basic subjects first: reading, writing, and math. Once you have those established, you can add in choices for history, science and electives.
-Price. Make a budget and stick to it. Otherwise you can easily rack up hundreds of dollars in stuff you don’t need.
A popular supplier of homeschool materials is Rainbow Resource Center. They carry a large variety of curricula at discount prices. They also offer an extensive catalog which you can access online. The cool thing about their catalog is that each item also has a written review.
Cathy Duffy is the most well known name in homeschooling when it comes to curriculum reviews. Her top 100 picks lists the cream of the crop curricula for homeschooling.
One of the things you need most when you start homeschooling is a strong support system. A homeschooling mentor is also a wonderful thing to have if you can locate someone who is willing to take you under their wing.
Click on one of the following links to locate a support group in your area:
You might also join an online support group. These come in handy on those days when you’re home with the kids, but need a boost of encouragement or have a question about something and don’t have a flesh and blood person handy to ask. To find an online group, click on one of these links.
Don’t forget about homeschooling blogs. They exist in abundance. You might enjoy visiting my blog, Reality Homeschooling.
Image courtesy of Andrew Stawarz on Flickr
Before you jump into homeschooling it’s important to plan ahead. This plan can be a very detailed agenda of what you want to cover each day or a more general idea of what subjects and topics will be covered from month to month or week to week. Two things you need to know about planning:
You need to do it.
The plan must be flexible.
Without a plan, you’ll have chaos and won’t accomplish your educational goals. With too rigid of a plan, you’ll end up frustrated when things don’t go the way you want them too and, trust me, that’s going to happen more often than you think.
Homeschooling does involve commitment, planning, and educating yourself, but don’t let those things eclipse the joy of teaching your children. Once you jump through the first few hoops, it will get easier. You may even find that your family has a lot of fun!
Pinterest is a great place to find lots of information and ideas for homeschooling. I have numerous Pinterest boards that pertain to homeschooling and education if you’d like to stop by and visit. Check out these boards:
Hands-On Homeschooling, Homeschooling Help, Homeschool Humor, Homeschool Teaching Ideas, Nature Studies, Favorite Homeschool Resources, Teaching Art, Teaching Bible, Teaching Geography, Teaching History, Teaching Language Arts, Teaching Math, Teaching Music, Teaching Science, Unit Studies, Field Trips
Recipe: New Potatoes,Green Beans, and Ham (Crock Pot)
Tea party cookies
Tea party cupcake holder
Menu Planner for creative and right-brained people
Christmas: Baking soda ornament and baking soda tags.
Teaching writing: 11 ways to use simple words and phrases
Stretches That Make For a Deep Sleep
Grape and cheese sunflower snack
Fruit rainbow for Noah's Ark bible lesson