What Do I Need to Know?
Making the decision to homeschool is a huge step. Often, though, making the decision only leads to more uncertainty. How do I get started? What do I do next? How do I choose curriculum? How do I play a day?
Like any other major change, challenge, or task, the best approach is to take one step forward at a time. In the case of homeschooling, understanding several things will help you take that next step and be well prepared for your new school year.
Points to Ponder
Here are a few basic pieces of information to help you know how to take the next step.
Every state has legal requirements for homeschooling. For some states, you simply begin. The only exception would be if you need to formally withdraw your child from their current school. For other states, there is paperwork to file and requirements to fulfill. Find out what your state requires, then follow these requirements closely to ensure a smooth start.
Transitioning or Beginning?
It makes a difference if you homeschool from the beginning or if you are pulling an older student from public or private school. If your oldest will be a kindergartener, you can ease her into school in the same way that you taught her the innumerable things she already knows, such as walking, talking, or how to drink out of a regular cup. If you are pulling a child from school, there will be more to think about, and some of the “way in the future” considerations, such as graduation or college, could be a lot closer!
Children who are pulled from a public or private school and begin to homeschool will likely need to “deschool.” This term refers to the fact that homeschooling is different than public school, and you and your child will need some time to adjust. Starting slowly and easing into a homeschool routine will better allow your child to make the transition.
Graduation & College
If you are pulling a teenager out of a traditional school setting, you will not only need to follow any subject requirements that your state may have, but you will also need to consider what your child will need in order to graduate. If your student is considering college, you will want to make sure you are meeting the basic credit requirements for that as well.
You will be more likely to succeed in homeschooling if you have a plan before you begin. But always keep in mind that needs change as your child grows and life circumstances change. Also remember that every child is different and will require a unique approach. Be flexible and willing to change as your life changes. Create a basic plan for routines, schedules, and subjects, but be sure to evaluate periodically and make changes when needed.
Teaching & Learning Styles
Your child’s learning style, as well as your teaching preferences, will have an impact on how you choose to homeschool. Find some good resources on learning styles and evaluate how your child learns. Choosing curriculum and activities that match his learning style will make teaching easier.
Resources & Curriculum
Spend some time looking at catalogs and online to find the resources and curriculum that will work best for your family. In the early days of homeschooling there was very little in the way of dedicated homeschool resources, but today’s homeschooling parents are blessed with an abundance! Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with the sheer number of choices, but take your time. Realize that sometimes a curriculum works great for one family or child, but not as well for another. Don’t be afraid to make changes if you need to.
A Few More Thoughts
Beginning homeschooling is a big step, but you can do it. Take things step by step and give your children-and yourself-lots of grace as you feel out what works best for you.