The further I get into homeschooling, the more and more I’m asked, “How exactly do I homeschool?” Well….It’s pretty easy, actually! Over the next several weeks, this blog will be publishing a series of homeschool basics. We’ll talk about how to get started, how to plan, how to budget, and several other subjects parents need to cover before or during their first year of homeschooling. While covering the basics of homeschooling is not really discussing the craziness of homeschooling, when you have a firm foundation, you can enjoy the rest of the journey!
We will start with a step-by-step guide to starting your homeschool:
1. Make the decision to homeschool, then commit to that decision. Once you’ve made that decision, you can start changing your entire mindset. You probably had an idea about what life would look like when your oldest started Kindergarten, or you’ve already got kids in school and know what a life with them in school during the day feels like. Take a few days and really wear your decision. Think through what your days will look like now with the kids with you.
Once you’ve committed and really, truly decide to homeschool, take care of the legalities and make your homeschool official. If you are not in the school system yet, check your state laws and find out when(what age/school year) exactly you need to register your child or homeschool to stay compliant with the laws. If your child is already in the school system, learn the process you need to abide by to remove your child from the school system. It’s NEVER a good idea to simply pull a child out of school or ignore the notification laws when it comes to homeschooling. It is legal in all 50 US States. Follow the letter of the law and you shouldn’t have to worry about unnecessary government intervention. If you are in the US, you can click here for the HSLDA Summary of Homeschool Laws by State.
(Note: While looking at state laws, it may be necessary to follow the next couple steps before making your homeschool legal. A few of the states require you to submit educational plans or materials, which must be decided upon before submitting paperwork. Follow the guide referenced above for more information.)
2. Think through your Why. Why are you stepping away from the crowd and doing things differently? Why are you changing the make up of your daily life? Why are you committed to homeschooling your kids? What do you hope to accomplish for your family/your children through this decision?
Once you know your why, write it down. Many families take writing it down one step further and come up with a family homeschool mission statement. Writing down your why/your mission statement will help you narrow your school decisions down to what really matters to you as a family. We will talk more about this in a later post, as I’m working on some printables that will walk you through this step.
3. Now that you’ve committed to this educational plan, and know your reasoning, it’s time to narrow down your How. This is generally called your Homeschool Method. Now, there are many different methods, and it may seem overwhelming to narrow it down. There are several quizzes and worksheets all over the web for you to help narrow down the methods to what will work for your family. Keep in mind, you don’t have to hold hard and fast to one method for homeschooling to work. You also may choose further down the road to use another method to school your kids. Choosing your starting method simply narrows down your curriculum choices and eliminates many of the extras that can be very distracting at first.
4. Once you’ve figured out all the background information, your next step is to select your curriculum. This is one of the hardest and most overwhelming steps for most families, but it doesn’t have to be! First, start with your state/governing body’s laws for homeschooling. Each state has different laws and requirements for what needs to be covered during the school year. (Visit the link earlier in this post for more information!)
To pick your curriculum, start with the list of subjects that are required by the state. After that, it’s time to google. If you’re looking for a math curriculum that aligns with the Classical method, google classical math curriculum. Take the top several that come up when you google and research them. If Math-U-See is one of your results, google Math-U-See reviews or Math-U-See blog posts. Narrow it down to the curriculum you feel would be the best fit for your child and you as the teacher.
Work your way through the requirements, then stop once you’ve figured out your required curriculums. For your first year, do what is required, and don’t add in any extra subjects, unless they are something you and your kids simply enjoy. You are going to need time to get your “sea legs” as a homeschooler. Don’t destroy your homeschool right out of the gate by choosing an extra 5 curriculums and forcing yourself and your kids to finish all of them!
5. Your last step to starting your homeschool is to put your homeschooling space together. Your homeschool space could be anything from an extra shelf in the dining room to an entire room of your home devoted to schooling. Think through how your family functions in your home, and how you can make homeschooling work in that space. Once you’ve designated your space, gather what you will need for that school year. Keep only what you need to have for the subjects you are covering in your homeschool space, unless your home’s design demands that you keep all educational materials in one space. If you’ve got ten extra curriculums or tons of materials crowding your school space, you are going to feel overwhelmed and not want to be in that space. Keep your visible supplies and extras to a minimum and set your school up in a manner that everything you are going to need is easily accessible and organized.
It’s pretty easy to set up your homeschool once you’ve made the decision to teach your children at home. It is a commitment, but it’s a commitment that gives your family the freedom to learn in the method and manner that works best for the individuals in your home. Once you’ve made the decision to homeschool, you’ve decided to take a ride on one of the best adventures that your family will ever take! The best part about this decision will not be the lessons that you do on a daily basis with your child, but the relationships you build throughout your homeschool journey, with your children and with the community around you. Any new homeschoolers are welcome in this community, as well! We welcome you to ask questions, comment, or message the publisher for assistance and recommendations.
This is the first in a series devoted to helping you have a firm foundation for your homeschool adventures. You can find the next post, How to Successfully Choose Your Homeschool Curriculum, at this link and you can find an overview of homeschool methods here.
In the comments, please let me know what you wish you’d have known before you started homeschooling!
By the way, I want to stay in touch with you! Fill out the form below, and join the This Crazy Homeschool Life family so I can keep in touch, and send you lots of fun stuff! Thanks!
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