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Are you ready to start homeschooling? Jumping into a homeschooling journey can be stressful beyond comparison. Homeschooling includes a complete change in lifestyle, another layer of responsibility as a parent (or child), and sometimes being subject to other people’s opinions of your lifestyle. Most of the time you will notice very quickly how much of a difference homeschooling makes in your life.
Almost immediately we start receiving unsolicited advice on our educational decisions for our children, and over time we realize how different our home environment becomes. This can sometimes be good, but sometimes we can really worry about our decision to homeschool, especially if we have doubts about our ability to â€œkeep upâ€ with the public school curriculum.
There is a simple and effective method for getting started in your homeschooling lifestyle. This method can be repeated every year as you re-evaluate your curriculums, activities, schedules, and expectations. Nothing about this method requires any form of payment, but depending on your homeschooling philosophies, you may find that some aspects of your lifestyle will require more investments than others.
We’ll cover a simple 10 step method in preparing yourself for a new homeschooling lifestyle over the course of this post.
The absolute first thing you want to do when you start homeschooling is figure out the legal requirements for homeschooling in your state to make sure you are abiding by all the laws. The best way to do this is to look up your state on HSLDA’s website. HSLDA has a lot of wonderful resources and opportunities for homeschoolers and it is a good idea to become a member so that, in the unfortunate event, they can help you with any legal situations that arise over the years.
If your children are in school, you will have to find out what paperwork is required to pull them out without them being found as absent, and over time truant, from school. Different states have different requirements.Â
You will then need to find out what type of paperwork and records are necessary to keep. This varies by state as a homeschooler. You may have to keep “attendance” records, a portfolio for each of your children, or a number of other requirements. Then again, some states don’t require anything.
When you start homeschooling you will need to figure out a family philosophy. This is basically you, your spouse, and your kids putting into writing the reason(s) you are homeschooling. Some examples of this would be more family time, or more time for building talents, or higher educational expectations. Sometimes it is simply so that we can give our kids a less toxic learning environment at home where they can escape bullying, bad education, or unhealthy influences in their classroom.
Every family’s philosophy will differ from their neighbor’s, but having a philosophy will help remind us why we chose this lifestyle when we have hard days (or weeks) because believe me, they do come.
Your family vision differs from your philosophy in a few ways. This is your opportunity to take your philosophies and set REAL and MEASURABLE goals. You can refer to our websites 8 elements for inspiration.
Example: Physical goals – make sure every family member exercises for 30 minutes, five times a week. We will also eat fresh fruits and veggies every day.
Repeat this process with each element: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, occupational, environmental, spiritual, and financial.
It is a good idea to make family plans, then sit with each individual child and help them make their own attainable goals for the school year. You can set overall goals, then break them down by month, week, or year.
When you start homeschooling, you can name your school, adopt a mascot, create a logo, and write a vision statement.
It is important to note that homeschooling methods differ from curriculum. The method you use reflects your ideas on learning, the curriculum you use is a specific book, product, or program that reflects the theory of the method. There are many different methods that you can look into and research when you start homeschooling. I’ve included a list below!
Next you will need to do research into your options for curriculum. There are plenty of “free” options, as well as cheap and more expensive opportunities. Honestly, you just have to find the best fit for your family.
There is no need to worry about keeping up with the public school system. As long as your children have learned how to learn in your home then they will have the tools necessary to succeed. I suggest you encourage your kids to master the subjects they are studying, instead of skipping through it to keep on a schedule. You children will do much better if they learn to master the information they are studying.
The next thing you will want to consider is the cost to start homeschooling. Although homeschooling is infinitely cheaper than your child’s public school education, the money is all coming out of your own pocket. Like I said before, there are many free resources for homeschoolers, but there are some homeschooling factors that may be worth the investment for you.
This will also be a “personal preference” decision. My family has never participated in any of these organizations, but I’ve heard from a few homeschooling families that it has been a really great experience for them and their kids. Whether for socialization, new learning opportunities, etc. you may choose to participate in some of these organizations.
Groups tend to be state, county, or locality based and offer learning opportunities, discounts, and sometimes teacher identification cards for homeschooling parents. Co-ops are more “homeschooling method” based where they will have specific classes, experiences, and opportunities organized by like-minded parents. Clubs tend to be more child-based, and help your children learn leadership skills. They can also be community-run and based around activities such as band, sports, or the arts.
Next you will need to decided on a homeschooling schedule. There are different scheduling ideas depending on what works for your family. It is generally accepted that your child should have 180 days of school, how you choose to organize this is completely up to you.
Your weeks may also differ from public school scheduling. You might do 5 days of school as usual, or apply the college 4 day “block” method. You could even take a break on Wednesdays to let your kids have a break.
Your day schedule will need to be organized too.
When you have a pretty good idea of how your homeschooling philosophies are going to impact your learning environment, schedule, and more it is time to set up your learning space. This can simply be a bookshelf next to your dinner table. You could set up a separate “homeschool” room for your kids, or you can encourage your kids to take their schoolwork with them throughout the house.
You will also need to consider how you want all of your schooling supplies organized. Will they be organized in a homeschool closet, or found throughout the house at the art station, science station, and reading nook? That is up to you, but now is the time to find a way to make it work for your family.
Last, but certainly not least, you have to find a way to receive feedback on what your kids are learning, and apply their grading a coursework to completing report cards, transcripts, and portfolios.
The best place to start is by writing up a Course Description page for each of your child’s classes that includes their curriculum, supplemental reading materials, and course work expectations. You can find a downloadable template for this in our shop!
Next you will want to have Report Card written up every year for your child until they reach high school. We also have a template for this in our shop. Once your child hits high school, you should be keeping track of their credits/classes/grades in the form of a Transcript. This is the sheet of paper the colleges and universities will expect from you, and a template is also available in our shop.
Lastly you’ll need to organize all of your child’s good work in your child’s portfolio. You can organize their portfolio in a binder, box, or file folder. It is a good idea to keep the years report card, a copy of each classes course description, and the copies of their top essays, projects, reports, and presentations.
Homeschooling can seem overwhelming, but if you take it one baby step at a time then it will all come together clearly and you will have no reason to worry. Successful homeschooling largely relies on your confidence in being able to do well. You’ve already taken the first step by researching, so you are well on your way to success! Congratulations!
If you’d like a little extra help in taking these steps piece by piece you can download our Homeschool Planner that gives you the print outs for each step of the journey!
Are you ready to start homeschooling?
A Goodnotes Digital Planner to get you started on your 2021 journey.