Homeschooling is growing by leaps and bounds, as more and more families are taking their children’s education into their own hands. Regardless of the reasons for homeschooling, it can be hard to determine where to start. Which curriculum should you choose? Should you buy curriculum at all? What kinds of records do I need to keep? Perhaps the biggest question (or doubt) that many parents have is can I do it?
The easy answer to that is YES, YOU CAN! With the correct support and tools, anyone can successfully homeschool. There are, however, some first steps that everyone should take before undertaking such an enormous task.
Know the Laws
The very first thing you should do is research the homeschooling laws in your state. If you aren’t following the laws, you can get in some serious trouble. Truancy laws are nothing to sneeze at, and if you don’t follow certain states regulations, your child will be considered truant. Some states have very little regulation, while others have strict regulations.
Check into an HSLDA membership. It’s not a requirement for a homeschooling family but it is definitely a good idea. They offer legal advice and assistance when required, and have helped many families deal with harassment from authorities. Check out the HSLDA website, and read about what they are all about.
Find a Support Group
Support groups are the core of any homeschool. They provide your children with friends and socialization, activities and field trips, and are a source of information when you have questions and provide support when you feel like giving up. Most areas of the country have homeschooling support groups, so there are tons of opportunities for families to get help when they need it.
Take a Break
Homeschooling is a tremendous adjustment for both you and your child(ren). You may want to consider taking a break for a while; it will give you a chance to decide upon a schedule or routine that works best for you. For example, is your family made of early risers, or would you prefer to sleep in for a while? Do you like to get all the schoolwork done at one time, or split it up throughout the day? Should you do a little of each subject every day, or only 2-3 subjects a day? You get the idea…
Taking that break mentioned above will help you come up with some type of schedule that will work best for you and your kids. However, for most of us, our schedules change, routines change, and the best laid plans go awry. It’s really important to not be so focused on strict schedules that an impromptu nature walk throws a wrench in your plans.
Choose a Homeschooling Method
This is an interesting tip. Most of you will think I mean that you need to choose the one and only style or methodology that you will use. Honestly, this is one of the things that I got caught up in when I first started homeschooling. One of my most favorite things about homeschooling is its flexibility.
For example, let’s say you like the looks of the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling. You try it for a couple of months, but it isn’t working for your children. Guess what? You can simply change to a different method!
However, having a few ideas in mind is a good idea when you first start out, even if you end up switching methods.
Avoid Homeschooling Arguments
This was a hard lesson for me to learn. Friends, family members and even members of the general public will have negative comments about your decision to homeschool. Don’t waste your breath arguing with them. Seriously. It’s not worth your breath, and all it does is make you defensive, which you shouldn’t have to be. But honestly, in my experience, I would say about 85% of the people who initially had a negative reaction to my decision now wish that they were able to homeschool their children.
Don’t Expect Miracles
Perhaps the best tip I can give you is don’t expect miracles. If you start your homeschooling journey with strict schedules, high expectations of homework assignments, and working so hard to try to get schoolwork planned in advance, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.