There are various reasons a parent might decide to homeschool their child. From religion, to traveling, to just wanting a better learning atmosphere, many parents make this decision. But, what comes after making that decision? Where do you even start? Searching general information about homeschool can leave you overwhelmed and even give you incorrect information. So, where SHOULD you be starting on this homeschool journey?
- Check your state requirements. Every state has different laws for home schooling. They range from very strict (like Ohio), to very relaxed (like Michigan). The very first place you NEED to start is with which ever state you live in or will live in when your child is school aged (7 in most states), because first and foremost, you want to be sure you’re following the law and you won’t have a truancy officer at your door step. Not sure what your state’s laws are, or having trouble understanding the legal jargon for your state? Visit HSLDA (not affiliated or sponsored, just a great resource for all things legal in home school).
- It’s fairly important to have your significant other and/or your child’s biological parent in agreement to homeschool. I say fairly because they might not be necessarily involved; or they might be involved, but not concerned about how their child is getting an education. In either of those circumstances you’re good to go, but if they are very against this decision, it can make homeschooling quite difficult.
- Absorb all the information you can! You’ve already started that by reading this, and, I assume, many other blogs about the subject. A quick trip to the library would also be a great start! Almost any book you can find on homeschooling will be great, it builds your knowledge and confidence and really helps you feel prepared to take on such a serious task as taking responsibility of your child’s education. I also suggest starting Pinterest boards to help you keep track of fun ideas and inspirational reading.
- Be prepared for nay-sayers. I have been extremely fortunate to not have dealt too much in this particular area. Most people either love or ignore the fact that we homeschool. But there will probably be a friend or a family member (sometimes even a stranger) who is against it. Do. Not. Let. That. Deter. You. As long as you’re on the right side of the law, do what your heart tells you is right for your family. Your research will give you the points you need now, and in time your children will be all the proof you need that this is right. Trust in your self and who/whatever else you have on your side.
- Start slow. So, you know what you need to do to homeschool legally, your spouse is okay with your decision, so now you might find yourself thinking that all you need is a desk and a black board. SLOW DOWN! Start out slow. If you have a young child that hasn’t even started school, and isn’t school compulsory age (usually 7), don’t worry about curriculum and schedules! Start slow, dedicate just a few minutes a day to songs or simple puzzles and the rest of the time to LOTS of play. If you are removing them from school, dedicate the first few weeks of their school to de-schooling. Your child will probably need time to get used to being home, and getting out of the mind set that is created in schools. Spend time reading, watching documentaries, go to the library, museums fun and simple things that don’t really feel like school. Take your time and start slow, this is not a race, it’s a marathon!
- Be open to change. Okay, after you’ve started slow and worked your way up, you might start a new curriculum that other homeschool mom’s recommended, or that had GREAT reviews online. But, it’s just not working for you or your child. Be open to change, be open to needing to switch things up now and then, know that everything won’t work for you the same way it does for others. That’s the very best part of homeschooling! The ability to take what isn’t working, and change it up to something that does!
- Remember that you are trying your best! There will probably be nights that you lie awake worrying about terms you never thought of before: gaps in learning, standardized testing, and (yeah, I’m going there…) socialization. OoOoOohhhhh spooky. Even when every homeschool parent you know or talk to says they aren’t that big of a deal, these worries still might creep up on you when you least expect it. Know you are doing your best, and that you are just trying to make the best decision for your children. I mentioned before not letting others bring down your confidence, try not to let yourself bring it down either!
- Patience is nice- but not a deal breaker. I swear, in the last four years of home schooling this is what I hear MOST of all, even more than that dreaded socialization term. “I don’t know how you do it! I would never have the patience!” Want to know a secret just between us? I have no patience. NONE! I thought it would get better with time, but no. I have days where I lose my crap. My kids have times where they lose their crap. If you lose your patience now and then and yell a little or take time away from that dining table to go cool off in the middle of a math lesson, it’s okay! Patience is thankfully not a requirement in parenting or in homeschooling.
- Remember to take time for yourself too. This is my number one tip to every parent always and forever, no matter their situation. Take a few minutes for yourself every day. Here’s a list of things you can do, even if you only have 1 minute to spare in a day.
- Last but not least- don’t worry about what’s to come. Don’t stress out about next year this year. Don’t stress about how you’ll teach middle school, or high school. As with anything in life, when you stress about it, you have to live through it twice. Take schooling a year, a month, a week or even a day at a time. You’ll get to those other things when you get there, your kid will be ready to read when its right for them, and you don’t have to plan out years in advance with their education. Work right where you’re at and get to the rest when it’s time to be there. Most things with homeschool can be overwhelming, so don’t overwhelm yourself more with getting too far ahead of your family!
When you think you have a fair handle on these tips, you’re ready! You have the tools you need to start home schooling! This is such a rewarding experience and the benefits are plenty! It can be a lot of work but for the most part, it’s only as hard as you make it. As you go through, you’ll find you have many more questions, but with these tips you’ll have a better grip on where to go for the answers and feel more prepared every day!
Until next time friends!