Choosing to homeschool is exciting and overwhelming at the same time. When you first begin telling people that you are going to homeschool you will get a mixture of responses, some negative, and some positive. The most important thing to remember when you start homeschooling is that it is your right as a parent. It is a choice that you did not make lightly, and it is a choice that quite frankly only you and your spouse have a say in. Don’t let other people talk you out of it, or make you feel like your choice is the wrong one.
Whether you begin homeschooling in the middle of a school year, or during the summer it is a good idea to take a month “off” from any “school” to “deschool” . During this time you will be spending a lot of time learning about homeschooling, finding out the laws, finding a homeschool group, and choosing a curriculum.
Once you have made the decision to homeschool you will need to find out the laws in your area. The laws vary from state to state, and from country to country. No area has the same laws. A great place to start is with the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. They have a list of all the laws in various countries, as well as for each state in the U.S. Once you have figured out what the laws are in your area make sure you follow them. Contact the proper office, turn in the necessary paperwork, and start documenting the necessary documentation.
Once the necessary paperwork has been completed, you will spend a lot of time researching. Look into curriculum options, order catalogs, read homeschool books and magazines, and check out homeschool blogs related to homeschooling. Look into the different learning styles and find out how your children learn. This book by Cathy Duffy can help you figure out what your child’s learning style is as well as your teaching style. Here is a breakdown of the different types of learners you may have:
- Visual (spatial): Your child may prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
- Aural (auditory-musical): Your child learns better while listening to music or other sounds.
- Verbal (linguistic): Your child may prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
- Physical (kinesthetic): Your child learns better while moving or using his body, hands, and sense of touch.
- Logical (mathematical): Your child needs to understand the logic, reasoning, and systems.
- Social (interpersonal): Your child may prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
- Solitary (intrapersonal): Your child prefers to work alone and use self-study.
You will also want to look into the different homeschool methods and find which one you think would fit your needs, and beliefs. Some of the most popular homeschool methods are Charlotte Mason (who encouraged using “real” books instead of textbooks), Unit Studies (You pick one thing and study it in depth, learning history, science and language arts), Unschooling (child led learning with no textbooks) and traditional (text books, and mostly resembles a public school setting). There are many more but those are the ones you will probably hear most often.
The next thing to do is find a homeschool group. I truly feel that homeschool groups are essential to homeschooling success. They offer friendships for children and parents; many offer field trips, co-op classes, holiday parties and more. They are there for you when you have a bad homeschooling day, they can help you see curriculum first hand, and you can share experiences together on what works and what doesn’t. Finding a homeschool group can be easy if you live in a large area, usually if you find another homeschooler they can help point you to a homeschool group. If you do not know anyone else who homeschools start checking out Yahoo or Facebook groups for one in your area.
The final step in beginning homeschooling is to choose a curriculum. This will be a lot easier after you have talked to other homeschoolers, researched, found out your children’s learning styles, and learned more about homeschooling methods. There are so many curriculum options out there that it is easy to become overwhelmed. Cathy Duffy’s book also will give you curriculum suggestions based on the type of learner your child is. Another book recommendation is Rebecca Rupp’s Learning Year by Year. This book gives you learning suggestions from preschool-12th grade as well as curriculum suggestions. This website is also great for reading real reviews from homeschool moms on different curriculums. There is no perfect curriculum and what works for one child may not work for another and what works for one family isn’t guaranteed to work for yours. The important thing to remember when choosing a curriculum is that if you choose one that doesn’t work you can always ditch it and try something else.
Choosing to homeschool is one of the most rewarding decisions you will ever make. It is a journey that is full of ups and downs, and one that most will never regret. Getting started can be a daunting task, but breathe, try not to be stressed, and enjoy the journey!