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Roadmap to Getting Started Homeschooling!
Whether you’re exploring the idea of homeschooling your children or your family has recently started, you likely have questions. Perhaps you’re feeling the pressure of all of the decisions that need to be made and myriad things to learn and take into consideration.
Take heart! There is an amazing adventure ahead! To help you embark on this journey successfully, let’s take a brief look at seven steps in our roadmap to getting started.
DETERMINE YOUR DESTINATION
The first thing you’ll want to consider is whether you think you’ll be homeschooling for the long haul or if this is a short detour in your child’s educational journey.
If you don’t know where you’re heading, it’s much harder to reach your desired destination. I’ve found it helpful to write down the reasons we’ve chosen to homeschool. Understanding and being able to articulate WHY you’re homeschooling will help you narrow down what you want to accomplish, providing focus and direction.
It might be that you want your child to have an education experience that infuses a love of learning and gives you quality time together. Or perhaps you have a gifted learner that would thrive in an environment that allows for deeper exploration and learning at a faster pace. Do you have a child with learning difficulties? You might decide to homeschool to provide a safe space filled with opportunities to grow and flourish.
DECIDE WHICH ROUTE YOU’LL TAKE
Once you’ve decided your destination on the home education journey, you can start planning how you’ll get there or the route you’ll take.
If homeschooling is a temporary detour in your child’s education, such as just the current school year, you’ll want to plan accordingly and stay on track more or less with what your child’s peers are learning at school. This will make for an easier reintegration when they return to school. Take a look at the Published Standards of Learning on your state’s Department of Education website as a guide.
If homeschooling is the road you’re going to stay on for the long haul, you have a lot more flexibility and freedom to explore and discover and adjust as needed.
Two topics you’ll want to research are learning styles and homeschool methods.
A learning style is essentially how an individual receives and engages with information and instruction. The three main learning styles are: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. As you observe and interact with your child, recognizing their preferred learning style can help set your homeschool up for success.
You’ll also want to give some thought to your educational philosophy and the homeschool method or approach you want to take. Perhaps you feel most comfortable with a traditional textbook approach, or maybe you prefer unit studies, classical education, Charlotte Mason, or a literature-based approach. There are some great resources online to learn more.
One last point on determining the route you’ll take … consider your family’s unique dynamics and needs. This is your journey and you get to create a learning adventure that best supports your children.
ASK FOR DIRECTIONS
Just like you need to know and abide by traffic laws, it’s crucial to understand the homeschool law in your state.
Homeschooling is a legal option in all 50 states with homeschool laws and requirements varying by state.
Be sure to review the law for your state. Your statewide homeschool organization can provide guidance and accurate information on what’s required.
If your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, you’ll need to officially withdraw them. Your state homeschool organization can provide direction on this, if needed.
PLAN FOR THE JOURNEY
When you go on a trip, a packing list is invaluable so you have what you need along the way. This principle applies to homeschooling as well.
Let’s talk about two big questions new homeschoolers ask:
How do I know what to teach?
How do I find curriculum?
1) How do I know what to teach?
- The blessing of homeschooling is that YOU get to decide what your child learns and when … and you can take as much or as little time as needed to help your child master new concepts. You’re in the driver’s seat.
- Homeschool curriculum is written with you, the parent-educator, in mind. Teachers’ manuals, customer service with the publishers, and even Facebook groups for those using a particular curriculum can be a huge help.
- If you want to know what to teach for a particular grade, check the websites of some of the curriculum publishers for their scope and sequence to see what skills are targeted. You can also do an internet search for “scope and sequence” and your child’s grade.
- In addition, numerous publishers have online placement tests to help you select the right level for your child.
- And don’t forget to leave room for some interest-led learning around topics your child is particularly fascinated with.
2) Where do I find curriculum?
- Choosing curriculum is one of the biggest decisions you’ll likely make as you get started homeschooling.
- There are literally hundreds of homeschool curriculum options to choose from, so it’s a bit of a research project to narrow down your choices.
- A key to remember is that curriculum is just a tool to support and assist you as you provide a rich learning experience for your child.
- You can select a grade-level packaged curriculum that includes all of the core subjects or you can pick and choose by subject from different publishers.
- Cathy Duffy has an excellent resource on her website “How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum.”
- Make plans to attend your statewide homeschool organization’s annual convention or other event they might be hosting with vendors present and you can check with your local homeschool group to see if they host or know of a used curriculum sale in your area.
PREPARE FOR EMERGENCIES
The road ahead can seem kind of scary because it’s unfamiliar territory and you don’t want to get lost along the way.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I want to let you know that is a very normal thing to feel. Just like learning to drive, there’s a learning curve.
Confidence comes with experience. It’s the same with homeschooling. It truly does get easier and a lot less scary the longer you do it.
Here are a few helpful hints to help you through those icy patches:
- First, breathe! It’s going to be okay. Really! Just breathe.
- Pray. God is with you in this endeavor, walking alongside you, guiding and directing you. He loves you and your children. He will equip you and has a good plan for your success.
- Remind yourself WHY you’re homeschooling. On those days where you feel like you’re in over your head, remembering why you chose this education path and your goals for your children will help keep you steady and focused.
- Focus on your relationship with your child. The education adventure is as much about having a healthy relationship with your children and nurturing them as human beings as it is teaching them math, science, reading, grammar, history.
- With practice and time, you’ll grow in understanding what works for your family and what doesn’t. You’ll find your rhythm and it will get easier.
CONNECT WITH OTHERS ALONG THE WAY
While homeschooling is an endeavor undertaking by individual families, we do not need to travel this road alone. Here are a few ideas for finding support and encouragement along the way
Find a local homeschool group in your area for in-person friendships, support, and enrichment activities. Your statewide homeschool organization should be able to connect you with groups in your state.
Talk with parents who’ve been homeschooling awhile. They’ve been where you are and they’ve walked in your shoes. They have learned things that can help you and encourage you.
Check out one or more Facebook groups for homeschool families either in your geographic area, with your particular educational approach or curriculum you’ve chosen, or a faith-based homeschool group or secular, etc. Visit your statewide homeschool organization’s Facebook page to see if they have a group for homeschool families in your state, too!
ENJOY THE JOURNEY
Learning with your children is a great privilege. Enjoy your kids and celebrate the gifts you’re discovering in them day by day. It just might be the most rewarding adventure of your lives!
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