If you are brand new to homeschooling, getting started can feel very overwhelming. If you just google homeschooling, you get 89,100,000 results – that’s a lot! The good news is that it is probably not as hard to get started as you think it is. In this post, I’m going to walk you through getting started homeschooling.
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Know the Laws
This step is the only step on the list that is not optional. You must do this step. Every other step on this list can be done to a lesser degree or skipped all together, but you can’t skimp or cut corners where the law is concerned. Understanding the law and following through on your legal obligations are very important. Don’t know where to start when it comes to figuring out the law in your state? I wrote a whole post about it here.
If the law in your state requires you to fill out forms or go through portfolio reviews, make sure you add to your calendar any important dates you need to remember. In my state, for example, there is a specific time you fill out your homeschooling form – and if you forget to do that, you can be considered truant. So I have a notification set up in my calendar to remind me when it’s the right time. If your state’s law is tied to dates or there are specific responsibilities for you, make sure you have a way to remember those responsibilities and follow through on them.
Consider Your Family Situation
Your family is unique – every family is. And really, one of the big advantages of homeschooling is that you can really think through your individual family situation and think about what is the best fit for every member of your family.
So, one of the first things you should consider is what your family needs and is like. Talk with your spouse and pray about it. Are there certain things you do/do not want to be a part of your homeschool? Does it need to be offline because your kids don’t do well in front of a computer? What are the ages of your kids? Does the work need to be more rigorous because they’re in high school? Are there specific things you want or need to focus on this year? While I do not write out formal goals for our homeschool, some people do and it could be helpful for you if you are stuck on figuring out what will work best for your family.
If you are thinking it will be just like public school, but at home, you are probably thinking too small. Really let yourself go and think; if your child’s education could look like anything – what would it look like? It doesn’t mean it will look like that – for example, your ideal education might include traveling the world, but because of finances or life situations, that might be impossible. But, that shows you that you value learning about other countries and cultures and that that is something you want to incorporate in your homeschool in a significant way. Dream big – you can scale back your dreams to fit your situation in the next step.
Read, Research, and Prepare
Now that you know what you are looking for for your family, this step is easier. It allows you to more quickly sort through the resources available to find what you’re looking for. If you know that online programs are not something you want for your kids, then you can skip over them when you see them come up.
There are a plethora of online blogs, resources, and Facebook groups and pages – including mine. The nice part about the internet is that it is easy to search for a specific topic and get results. You can search for the best books for 9 year olds or all in one curriculum or homeschool groups in Washington. You can search for anything and find the specific thing you are looking for easily.
But, sometimes the searching is overwhelming. Sometimes, you’d like a book that gives you a good overview of homeschooling or helps you to think about big picture ideas for homeschooling. I remember when I was new to homeschooling, I read Teaching in Your Tiara. Some other popular big picture homeschooling books are The Brave Learner, Homeschool Bravely, and Teaching From Rest. I hope to offer reviews of these books (and others!) soon to help you decide if these books would be helpful.
You can also talk to other homeschoolers. Find out what they do and look at their materials. What works for their family won’t necessarily work for yours, but it can give you a good starting point. And, there is value in seeing material hands on. If you can’t see material hands on, sometimes you can find YouTube videos of someone flipping through it.
You can also contact me! Research is my specialty and I am happy to put those skills to work, whether that’s creating a custom resource list for you because you’ve decided you want your kids to study Alexander the Great or talking you through your options and helping you figure out what fits best for your family. I am ready and willing to help you cut through the overwhelm.
Take a Deep Breath
I know all this can seem overwhelming but remember to take a deep breath! You are not going to do this all in one night. You can go at your pace. Also, in terms of research and considering your family situation, you can go as little or as deep into that as you want. You could read all the homeschool things, or you could just read the one thing that really fits your family. Whatever you decide, just remember to breathe. You can do this.
Lastly, homeschooling is a really unique thing. It’s a special gift to have so much time with your family. I know, on some days, it will not feel like a gift you want. You will want space. And that is okay and normal. But, on the rest of the days, figure out how you can have fun. Do things in your homeschool that bring you joy. Remember to laugh with your kids. Pause and take a 3 minute silly dance party. In the words of Miss Frizzle, from the beloved Magic School Bus – “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” You are stepping out on a limb and doing something new and different, so find a way to make the experience yours. You will make mistakes, but if you’re willing to take chances, you will also experience some of the best moments of your life.
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