Help! I’ve Decided to Homeschool. What Now?
It may seem like homeschooling is just too difficult or complicated, or takes too much time. It can also seem overwhelming – where do you start? If you want to home school but are not sure where to begin, here are some tips that may help.
1. Talk to other homeschooling families. Try to talk to a variety of homeschoolers, so that you can see how homeschooling works for different lifestyles and family groups.
2. Look online for tutorials and literature. There are even e-books that discuss the topic of getting started with homeschooling. My Homeschool Helps Pinterest board is a great place to start!
3. Familiarize yourself with your local laws and requirements. Your local board of education should be able to help you in this regard. Most communities require a “letter of intent” or some sort of official statement declaring that your child will be homeschooled in the upcoming year.
You’ll need to find out at what age that occurs – it will usually be the age that kindergarten starts in your area. Often, the rules and regulations are county based, so make sure you find out on a local level what you need to do.
I strongly suggest joining HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association). When you are a member, you have 24/7 access to their lawyers, which brings amazing peace of mind. They will answer all of your questions to make sure you are fulfilling all of the laws in your state and will provide free legal help should you be falsely accused, harassed, or bullied by your school district or state.
4. Join homeschooling organizations like co-ops and online communities. There is usually a “main” group to which most homeschoolers in your community will belong, and you can find out when you talk to them. There are also many homeschooling communities on Facebook where you can ask questions and find support. (Did you know we have a Christian Homeschoolers group? We’d love to have you join us there!)
5. Choose a curriculum that is right for your child. This is where many would-be homeschoolers get stressed out! But it does not have to be stressful. Think about what makes your child “tick” – if your child enjoys stories and reading, there are curricula that are based on children’s classic literature. There are also more “traditional” types of curricula that are fairly structured. Some curricula are based on social studies and geography; others on reading. Take a look at this article on “How to Choose the Best Homeschool Curriculum.”
Do some research, talk to other homeschooling parents, and don’t worry if you don’t pick the “perfect” curriculum right off the bat. You can always change. It’s a good idea to start small and maybe avoid purchasing a big, expensive curriculum right away.
6. Keep good records of your child’s schooling. Get some kind of system set up – it does not have to be elaborate; even file folders in a box will do. Or you can get an entire system of computer software to track your child’s progress.
How you keep your records will be affected by your local laws, because different regions have different requirements for tracking a child’s progress. Some areas require a portfolio, which is a collection of your child’s work in various subjects, and others require standardized testing. Some regions give you a choice.
Here is a great post that will walk you through organizing all the paperwork in your homeschool.
7. Last but not least, set up an area where your schooling will take place. This can be the kitchen table, or a special chair, or an entire room. It’s just a good idea to have a set time and area in the house where you do your home schooling. It helps set the mood and enhance concentration when the time and place are somewhat scheduled.
Do you have more questions? Please don’t hesitate to comment or email me and I’ll see what I can do help! Best wishes on your homeschooling journey!