Since we have been homeschooling since 2010 it’s sometimes hard to think about telling others how to start homeschooling. I have recently remembered some words of wisdom when someone asks in a Facebook group about what they need to do to start homeschooling because they are clueless and a little fearful. Usually a family has decided to homeschool, often due to bullying or lack of good educational environment, and there’s not been a lot of time to research. The parent feels that homeschooling would be the best choice for their child and desperately wants some help. I realized that I have some ideas of things that a new homeschool parent might want to consider when homeschooling is on the horizon.
These ideas were copied from an answer I had given to one such parent and then expanded on in order to provide more ideas and guidance. Sometimes a family just needs something different and homescholling will fit the bill for a time whether a semester, year or a lifetime!
Know your Homeschooling State or Country Laws
The biggest concern anyone wanting to homeschool should have is “What are the laws I must follow?” and “How can I Homeschool legally?” These should be easy enough to find but if you are in doubt then check the HSLDA website for specific laws. Once you read your laws then you can determine if homeschooling is still right for your family. If your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school then you will need to learn what papers need to be filed to un-enroll them and what paperwork needs to be turned in for homeschooling. Some states you only have to remove your child from the school system while others must notify the local superintendent that you are homeschooling your child. Each state also has rules about testing and portfolio assessments.
Read about Homeschooling
Read books on homeschooling like The Unhurried Homeschooler, Teaching from Rest and The Well Trained Mind. Even if you know other families that homeschool YOU will want to research what homeschooling is and will look like for your family! Each family is made up of unique individuals with their own learning style and temperaments. Each family has parents that have their own way of teaching and learning as well.
Discover Your Child’s Learning Style
Figure out what your child wants to learn, how they learn (books, hands on or worksheets) and just research those topics online and at the library (this is called Unit Studies). If your child needs step-by-step directions for Math then you will want to find a curriculum that fits the bill. Some children need to learn Math through stories like Life of Fred of the book list from Family Math.
Which Homeschooling Method
Research methods of homeschooling because there’s a lot. (Classical, Unschooling, Delight Directed, Montessori, Charlotte Mason to name a few.) Every time I think I have heard about them all and could easily explain them I hear about another homeschooling method. The same happens with curriculum choices do not even get me started about the plethora of choices you will need to make, lol.
Find Homeschool Programs
You do not want to get stuck at home ALL THE TIME! Trust me on this one. Unless you have severe allergies, phobias or an immune compromised child you will want to get out and socialize. There are so many places to find good educational and fun programs for free or for a fee.
Look for free programs at your local library and at the libraries in surrounding cities or counties because you might be surprised at what you find just a short drive away. We live within 35 minutes of about 7 or 8 libraries and since they are not all of the same “system” they offer a variety of programs from story time to STEM to Girls who Code to Green Screen rooms. Maker Spaces and Maker Boxes are offered at different locations which allows for more hands-on gift making and STEM learning.
County parks as well as city parks and recreation department offer a variety or nature and sports programs. One county offers both a nature program and a homeschool history program FREE even to out of county residents! We make the 40 minute drive for these since the educational director is very homeschool friendly. Our local county offers family programs and homeschool programs but the homeschool programs have a fee and book up quickly. We have enjoyed free parks and recreation programs for a town north and a town 2 towns south of us but all within a 25 minute drive. These programs are mostly offered in the Summer but can book up fast IF you know about them. I found out about a digital photography class that was free after registration had closed last Summer which my teen daughter would have loved to take! A few years ago our oldest son participated in a basketball camp.
Check with your YMCA and YWCA as well as local pools for homeschool discount days or family programs. Teen can usually participate on the leadership team even if they are not members.
Museums, Art Galleries and Cultural Centers are all great places to look for unique educational options for homeschooling activities including dance, musical instruments or art lessons.
Find Local Homeschooling Groups
There are a few different types of homeschooling groups that you might want to find in your area for support. General groups that provide support and field trip opportunists often require the least amount of commitment. Co-op’s often have a fee and higher parent commitment. You can find curriculum support groups listed on our used curriculum support post or homeschool curriculum post.
Read Lots of Good Books
Read good quality books and classic literature. Do not get stuck reading Captain Underpants or Dora the Explorer but read aloud books a few grades or levels above your child’s reading level. Reading allows your child to explore destinations all over the world and helps to grow their vocabulary in a much less stressful way then worksheets or phonics programs. Book lists can be found on Ambleside Online of Old Fashioned Education or Googling Books for 1st grade for example. You might even choose to read in various places and can read all about some ideas for Summer Reading Places our family has enjoyed.
Create a Schedule BUT Be Flexible
Decide on a basic schedule and ask yourself when your day will start as well as if you will have 4 days a week or 5 days a week of school. Will you school year round, 12 week semesters, 9 week quarters or chose to do 6 weeks on 1-2 weeks off, etc. You will need to take a hard look at your schedule and your spouses schedule as well as activities outside of the house. If you join an active group or co-op then you may only have time to “homeschool” 3-4 days a week at home. If you live in a climate that has diverse weather then schooling year round would allow you to take sunny days off to enjoy the park or playground versus being stuck inside doing school.
Join me on Facebook in our Homeschool Beginners Group especially for new homeschool families.