12 Steps to Starting Your Homeschool
Lots of parents feel a bit overwhelmed when thinking about getting their homeschooling started. While getting started with homeschooling involves careful planning, you can do it! Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you begin your homeschooling journey:
Know Your “Why” for Homeschooling
Making the decision to homeschool is personal to each person and family. Before starting up your homeschool, spend some time thinking about your goals. This will inform how to approach homeschooling, what types of curriculum or materials you pick, and even whether you will use a curriculum at all. Whether it’s providing a customized education, addressing special needs, religious beliefs, or other factors, having a clear purpose will guide your approach.
Research Your State’s Homeschooling Laws and Regulations
Familiarize yourself with the homeschooling laws and requirements in your state or country. Regulations vary from no reporting requirements at all to a need for curriculum approval or a portfolio submission. Each jurisdiction may have specific rules regarding curriculum, attendance, record-keeping, testing, and reporting. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has a comprehensive list of the requirements for each specific state.
Choose a Homeschooling Approach
Explore various homeschooling methods, such as traditional, eclectic, Charlotte Mason, unschooling, Montessori, or online-based curricula. Determine which approach aligns with your educational philosophy and your child’s learning style.
Select Curriculum and Learning Resources
Based on the chosen homeschooling approach, research and select appropriate curriculum, textbooks, educational materials, and resources. There are so many options now for homeschooling families. Consider your child’s age, grade level, interests, and academic goals. You might ask to borrow items from a current homeschool family first to be able to take your time to look it all over to see what appeals to you and what doesn’t.
Create a Homeschooling Schedule
Establish a daily or weekly homeschooling schedule that includes times for subjects, activities, breaks, and extracurriculars. But flexibility is so important! Things don’t always go as we plan. Toddlers take up extra time, you might have a couple of extra field trips or play dates, or you might want to travel.
Set Up a Learning Space
Designate a specific area in your home as a learning environment. This doesn’t have to be a classroom set-up. In fact, that is one of the great things about homeschooling. You don’t have to do “school at home!” Instead, find the best environment for you and your children, whether that is a separate school room, your kitchen table, or even the great outdoors.
Plan and Organize Lessons
When you purchase a curriculum product, you’ll have much of the work done for you. But you still need to plan ahead. If you are creating your own curriculum, this step will take some extra time. Organize materials and resources in a way that allows for easy access and efficient use during lessons.
Let Your Goals and Objectives Evolve
When you start up homeschooling, it may seem easy to define the short-term and long-term educational goals for your child. As you begin homeschooling, you may quickly see that those goals need updating. One pitfall that new homeschoolers make is that they want to do all the things. There’s not reason you can’t do everything on your list, but be open to modifying timelines and leave some space to add in things as they pop up.
Find Social and Extracurricular Activities
One stereotype of homeschoolers is that they don’t get adequate time or opportunities to find friends. But you can include socialization opportunities through local homeschooling groups, co-ops, field trips, sports teams, art classes, and community events. In fact, you may find that you have to limit what you do outside of the home.
Keep Records and Assess Progress
Each state has its own requirements for recordkeeping and reporting. Depending on those requirements, you may need to maintain a portfolio or records of your child’s work, assessments, and achievements.
Stay Informed and Seek Support
Stay updated on educational trends, research, and resources related to homeschooling. Join local or online homeschooling communities to connect with other homeschooling parents, share experiences, and seek guidance. Most states have advocacy groups that monitor local and state legislation and provide information to new homeschoolers.
Adapt and Adjust
Yay for homeschool flexibility! The whole point of homeschooling is to provide your children with learning opportunities that are on your terms. You can follow their interests, adjust to their changing needs, and learn together as a family. Be flexible and open to adjusting your homeschooling approach based on your child’s evolving needs, interests, and learning progress.
Remember, homeschooling is a personalized educational journey, so embrace that! You’ll learn right along with your children as you watch them flourish. Keeping yourself connected with other homeschoolers is a crucial key to success.
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