Should I Start Homeschooling My Child?Posted In Homeschool Assistance | Posted By Kristy Robins
How To Homeschool
Many parents turn to homeschooling in order to have more choices about their children’s education, but they may not anticipate the overwhelm that comes with so much freedom. There are so many choices to be made. So. Many. Choices. Perhaps you’re ready to take the plunge, but you’re not sure how to start homeschooling. If you need a little help in this department, you’re not alone. Whether you plan to start homeschooling at the beginning of the year or need to shift to homeschooling mid-way through the year, there are many things to consider as you begin your journey.
Read on for a simple step-by-step guide to homeschooling for beginners followed by some commonly asked questions about homeschooling.
Getting Started in Homeschooling: 7 Key Steps
1. Decide if homeschooling is right for your family.
There are many considerations to weigh when making the decision to homeschool. Because it’s a choice that will affect every member of your family, you may want to call a family meeting to discuss pros and cons of homeschooling. Talk about how homeschooling could benefit your family, but also be sure to listen to any concerns your spouse or children may have about the process. Be realistic about the time commitment. Take into account your spouse’s and children’s feelings about homeschooling. Setting aside time to discuss and reflect with your family will help you to make the best possible decision.
2. Research homeschool laws in your state.
Every state has its own unique set of laws pertaining to homeschooling. Read up on the laws in your state to find out what is required. Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, but some states are more heavily regulated than others. You’ll need to know how and when to notify your state that you’ll be homeschooling your children as well as the requirements for homeschool teachers. Some states mandate certain subjects that must be taught and/or require students to take standardized assessments. You’ll want to be aware of how many days or hours of instruction are needed to be in compliance. It’s important to start with a strong working knowledge of your state laws before starting homeschooling.
3. Learn from other homeschool families.
Join a local homeschool co-op or an online support group to connect with like-minded families who have already begun the homeschooling process. These groups can provide both information and encouragement as you begin your journey. If you’re not a “joiner,” you can take advantage of blogs or videos created by other homeschoolers to find out what has worked (or not worked) for other families. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can learn vicariously through other families’ experiences to get a good idea of what approach will work best for your family. At the same time, don’t feel pressured to conform to another family’s model of doing things. Many homeschool teachers will claim that their way is the right way, but their way may not work for your family. When it comes to homeschooling advice, feel free to take all suggestions with a grain of salt. You know your family’s goals and needs best. Ultimately, it’s up to you how you will run your homeschool.
4. Select the right homeschool curriculum.
When you’re weighing your options for curriculum, it is easy to get overwhelmed. There are so many choices out there! When choosing curriculum, some important considerations are strengths and weaknesses of both teacher and students, budget limitations, and student learning styles. For subjects that present questions or problems with no one “correct” answer, you might consider shopping for a curriculum that provides a little extra support.
For instance, Essentials in Writing ( EIW ) offers a comprehensive grammar and composition curriculum for grades 1 – 12 that takes the burden off the homeschool teacher with engaging video mini-lessons and a step-by-step approach that models each skill or concept followed by thoughtful practice in which the student applies his or her new knowledge. They even offer a scoring service for a very reasonable rate to add further ease for homeschool teachers. Like many curriculum companies, they allow a “try before you buy” option so that you can see if it fits your needs before you spend your hard-earned dollars. Taking your time is essential in finding curriculum that is the right fit.
5. Establish a homeschool routine and schedule.
With attention to what you learned in Step 2, create a homeschool schedule. Start by blocking out all the days you’ll homeschool on a calendar to create your year-at-a-glance. Then decide how many days per week you’ll teach each subject. Finally, create daily routines by outlining which hours are “school hours.” Don’t forget to include food and fun on the agenda! Some families like to schedule their school day by the minute, while others prefer to work from a daily agenda of events. Regardless of your approach, you will appreciate the fact that you have the freedom to schedule your day in a way that makes sense for you and your family.
6. Plan to learn alongside your children.
As your children learn and grow, you’ll learn and grow right along with them. If you have the time and money to invest, you might consider brushing up on your math skills by taking a college algebra course at a local community college. If that sounds too intimidating or time-consuming, there are many other options. Read books about homeschooling, attend a homeschool convention, participate in a webinar about learning styles, or just check out some of the great Youtube channels created by homeschoolers. There are so many resources available, and many of them are free.
7. Be flexible! You’re allowed to teach outside of a workbook.
Even the most experienced homeschoolers have to make adjustments along the way. If something about your homeschool experience isn’t serving your family well, you can change it to make it better. Whether it’s making tweaks to the schedule or exploring new options for curriculum, you are free to implement modifications at any point. If you need a break from your routine, you can declare an impromptu field trip. Maybe it’s the first warm day of spring and you’re itching to get outside – why not spread out a blanket and do your homeschooling in the backyard for the afternoon? By making little changes here and there, you can maximize the many benefits of homeschooling.
Frequently Asked Homeschool Questions
If you still have questions about homeschooling, we gathered some of our frequently asked questions and provided the answers below.
Are there homeschool laws?
Yes, each state has its own laws governing homeschool. Check the details for your specific state to discover requirements about the minimum number of days of instruction, certain subjects that must be included, and mandates concerning who is qualified to be a homeschool teacher. The level of regulation varies dramatically depending on your state.
What is unschooling?
A popular buzzword in the homeschool arena, “unschooling” refers to a process in which students learn at their own pace and according to their interests. With unschooling, structured curriculum and lessons are replaced by self-directed inquiry done in a setting that promotes natural curiosity. Students learn by reading, interacting with parents and mentors, visiting places that spark learning, and immersing themselves in nature.
Do I have to be a licensed teacher in order to homeschool my own children?
No, but some states do require that the homeschooling parent has a high school diploma or the equivalent. Check your state’s homeschool laws to make sure you qualify before you begin the homeschooling process.
What is a homeschool co-op?
A homeschool co-op is a group of families who coordinate together for the purpose of learning, socializing, and/or participating in some type of organized activity such as a sport or fine art. At the most basic level this may take the form of weekly meet-ups at a local park or library. Some co-ops split up the teaching tasks among parents by switching off days or subjects.
This form of co-op is especially helpful as children progress to the higher secondary grades in which students study more specialized forms of math or composition. In other cases, a licensed teacher is hired to teach a “pod” of students, and the parents split the cost. Homeschool co-ops take on many forms, but what they all have in common is that they are created to fill in gaps so that homeschool students have a more enriching educational experience.
Can homeschooled children attend college?
Yes, absolutely! During the admission process, homeschooled children may be asked to provide transcripts documenting their coursework, so parents should take care to keep detailed and accurate records. Homeschooled students usually have to take a standard entrance exam such as the SAT or ACT and, as a general rule, do very well on these exams. Most college-bound homeschool students find that their homeschooling is not an impediment to getting into college.
Which curriculum companies are known for ease of use for students and parents?
Essentials in Writing (EIW) is popular with both parents and students. It offers full grammar and composition courses for grades 1 -12 with video lessons, a step-by-step modeled approach, and lots of applied practice. For a reasonable additional charge, parents can add on a scoring service, which provides grading and detailed feedback incrementally throughout the course. Essentials in Writing is known for their top-notch customer support and is an excellent choice for families who are looking for curriculum that is easy to use for both teachers and students.
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