First Steps to Homeschooling

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Image by: Macie Klew

1. Find out your state laws regarding homeschooling. 
  • The most important first step you can make is to find out your states laws.  To do this you need to go to http://www.hslda.org/laws/default.asp. Some states require no notice that you will be homeschooling and some have strict requirements to submit curriculum, records, state testing and such.  You will need to find out what your state expects and then decide for yourself what path you should take.
2. Read about the different methods and decide which is right for you.
3. Research all the different curricula and narrow down what you would like.
    Your individual situation can change your curriculum course greatly.
  • If you've always known you will homeschool your children and they have never been in public school, then you can choose your own course and timeline according to what your child is capable of.
  • If you have just pulled your child out of public school, then they have already been introduced to a lot of subjects. You may need to specifically focus on areas they are behind in first, then go from there. The public school system has a spiral learning curve, for almost every subject, they go a mile wide and an inch deep. In other words, they cover a lot of territory, but don't expect mastery of a specific topic. They review what was covered the previous year and then build on it from there.
  • If you think you might need to put them back into public school down the road, then you may want to review the local school standards, to be sure there are no serious gaps.
     Other Considerations:
  • Review sites (see review tab) and Yahoo Groups are an extremely valuable resource.  They help you decide what will be worth purchasing. It's easy to overpurchase, especially the first year. 
  • I would recommend finding a learning styles test to see how your children learn. This will help you with your curriculum decision and ensure they retain what they have done.
4. Newbie mistakes
  • Do not attempt to recreate school at home.  This will burn you both out.  Relax, take a deep breath and remember you are homeschooling for a reason.  If you are not sure about how to schedule or what to do, ask your child what their favorite subject or book is and create something around that. Unit studies that include science, math, language arts, and more are great for starting out. They include a little of everything and you can choose a topic they are actually interested in. 
  • It may be tempting to buy a school-in-a-box set of curriculum, but avoid this if possible.  While the individual pieces may be fantastic, all together they end up falling short in some aspects of what your child may need. By tailoring their curriculum individually, you are ensuring it is effective and interesting, which means less waste.  In a school-in-a-box box set style, it is a shotgun approach, meaning, you may not use or need everything they send. 
5. Join support groups
  • Just about every major curriculum has forum boards for questions. Check their websites, some authors will even respond directly to questions in emails. Homeschooling is a close-knit community, we rely on each other for information and support. The more you read and ask questions, the more comfortable you will feel.
  • Yahoo Groups also has message boards that can be an information gold mine for new homeschoolers.  If you are considering a certain curriculum, join their group, search your questions on the board first and see if it's been discussed, ask questions, respond to others, there are a ton of groups out there for you.
  • Local homeschool co-ops.  Co-ops are your homeschooling neighbors. They are a great resource for having fun socializing with other families of similar values and providing a ton of ideas based on their own experiences. They can list local places to go for field trips and even go as a group for discounts.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I have been homeschooling since 2009, but have been reading about it since 2003. Homeschooling is rapidly growing. Whether you are a veteran or new to homeschooling, I hope to filter some of the vast amounts of information for you

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