So you are thinking about homeschooling but lost in how to get started. Well you are not alone. Even the most seasoned homeschooler, had to start somewhere and was probably overwhelmed. The good news is you can learn everything you need to know pretty quickly by following a couple quick tips.
Find a community.
Like schools, homeschoolers have many different groups. Begin on facebook and search local homeschool groups in your town. You can also contact a local MOPs group or your towns Moms group. These are great places to find out what groups exist. Once you have a list and contact names, go visit them, and by all means, bring your kids! Joining a homeschool play group or co op or moms support group is not like picking an elementary school. You will be much more involved. You need to like the space, the vision, the style, the beliefs, and the other kids! Homeschooling is definitely a lifestyle and the group you join will easily become your extended family. So go visit all of them and pick one that fits you. Once you have ‘you people’, it will become so much easier to figure out your states and local towns paperwork rules!
Spend some time on pinterest and pick a philosophy.
I am a big believer on knowing what philosophy fits you as a teacher. There are several: Charlotte Mason, Classical, Unit study, traditional, unschooling and Eclectic. Each one can work wonderfully for your family, but the one you choose must work for you as the leader. Picking a traditional pen and paper method is great if you like workbooks. But if you are dreaming on nature walks, building stick people and studying great books while learning to read, traditional methods will leave you uninspired. The same way, if you need plans and order, you want to build a foundation of knowledge systematically, unschooling will probably drive you crazy and leave you filled with anxiety. One word of advice, while you may be tempted to pick your philosophy based on how you believe you child will like to learn, dont do it. Pick your philosophy based on what style will make you a successful teacher. I tried to be the artsy teacher for my crafty daughter, and I learned it just made us all cry.
Pick a box curriculum
A box curriculum is a prepackaged curriculum designed for a specific grade and has everything from reading lessons to science, art and music. You don’t have to use this for the next 13 years, you don’t even have to use it for the whole year. But in the beginning, while you figure out how to teach and your child learns how to learn from you, make it simple! This also helps baseline your child, you will quickly discover what they excel in and also struggle in. Once you know, your child is struggling in phonics, you can add in different mini phonics curriculum’s that are targets to your child’s current skill level. By the end of the year, you may be subbing a reading program out for All About Reading mixed with Handwriting without tears and your well on your way to becoming an eclectic teacher.
Make a schedule.
Yes, homeschooling is lovely because you can go to the park in the middle of the day, grab groceries on a Tuesday, go to a museum on a Wednesday and hit the golf course on Friday. But without a schedule, you will find out that while you did lots of fun and necessary things, you never actually found time, to sit with the math book or write out the spelling words. I strongly suggest following the routine that most highly successful business owners follow: Do your most important work first. So wake up, get dressed and begin school! If you drag out your morning until lunch you will find you never have time to fit it in. Once you pick a start and finish time, guard that time. Do not take calls, do not make a play date, sign up for swimming lessons, clean your house. In our home, we do school between 8-12. Now not always that full time, but as far as family, friends and spouses know, we are working. We can not come outside and play, I can not take the car to the garage for an oil change, we can not run to the grocery store, or chat with grandma. All those things are wonderful, but believe me, your family will think you have all day to school, what is 30 mins here or there. What they don’t understand is the stress of pulling a happily playing 6 year old off the playground to a table to discuss adding or taking a tired, cranky kid who ran errands all day to make them read. Do yourself a favor, block off your school day, guard it and enjoy it.
Your child will learn to read, write and do math. They will learn to type on a computer and play the piano. You can teach them and you will teach them. But if you make every day a battle, it will end in misery. Homeschooling can be the most beautiful gift you give your children. They can grow up with memories of blankets and books, hot chocolate and math, reading under a tree or in a fort, doing math in a tent outside, science explosions, and experiencing history together with their family. These moments are what will bond your family, create a love for learning and memories that last a life time. So the very best advice I can give you, is to focus on your relationship with your child first and their growth will take care of itself. So grab some books, build the fort and don’t worry if they forget the magic e rule while reading aloud. Just keep reading, keep reminding and it will come.