5 Steps to Get Started with Homeschooling

1.       Research the laws in your state.

Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, but each state has its own system of accountability. Most states require you to notify your local school district of your intent to homeschool. Many states also require some sort of “proof of progress” at the end of the year. Sometimes that means standardized testing, a portfolio review, or an independent evaluation. Do not count on your local school district for advice. Many times the person you speak with does not fully understand the law OR they believe the district can dictate your requirements. Know the law! Don’t let the legal requirements deter you from homeschooling. Remember, there are all types of homeschoolers in every state and we all manage just fine. There is plenty of online support through homeschool groups and knowledgeable mamas who have been at this for years.

Find your state’s homeschooling laws.

 2.       Identify your goals for your children.

Why are you homeschooling? Is to remediate instruction for a struggling learner? Is it to address a special need? Does your child need to be challenged? Will your child attend public school next year or in the near future? Are you wanting more family time? Is your child heavily involved in a sport or other extracurricular pursuit? Identifying your goals will help you define what type of curriculum, style, and schedule your child needs. When you get overwhelmed with choices, come back to your goals and ask yourself how the decisions you are making are helping you to reach those goals.

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3.       Choose a homeschool style and curriculum that aligns with your goals.

There is no right way to homeschool. Each family chooses a method that suits their child’s needs and their family’s rhythm. Some families choose to unschool, others cherry pick curriculum and take an eclectic approach, and some families prefer to order a boxed curriculum. There are private and charter online schools that provide extra support and accountability for parents. Refer back to your goals and choose an approach that best fits your needs. Remember, this can change! What works one year may not work the next and what works for one child may not work for all.

Check out the curriculum that works for our family.

 

 4.       Find support and encouragement.

Look for groups online, in your state, and in your town that can provide support during your journey. Find playgroups, teen meet-ups, or local classes for your child. One of the things I missed the most about public school was “the village.” You won’t necessarily have insta-friends anymore and your schedule won’t include the jog-a-thon, school plays, and classroom parties. If your child has been in school, regardless of his/her experience, there will be celebrations and rites of passage that are missed. Use your support group to plan and participate in activities like Halloween parties, Christmas sing-a-longs, etc. Most cities have groups that meet for a weekly park day. These are my favorite because little is expected out of your child or yourself. It’s simply a time to chat, release energy, and form friendships.

Join a local Yahoo Group.

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Visit these online forums:

The Well Trained Mind Forums

Secular Homeschool Community

The Homeschool Lounge

 

5.       Enjoy your child!

 Show your child that homeschooling means having time to learn about what you love, with the people you love.

If your child is coming home because of a stressful school situation, take some time off. It’s ok. They will be fine academically, I promise. In the homeschool world, this break is called “deschooling.” It’s a time for your child to heal and for your relationship to grow. It’s important that your child understands that you aren’t taking the classroom and bringing it home. They don’t need to experience the same anxiety, fears, and expectations. Go to the library, visit your local museums, talk with your child, and figure out how he/she learns. If your child has a special interest, facilitate a unique experience or deeper study. Show your child that homeschooling means having time to learn about what you love, with the people you love.