So you’re thinking about homeschooling, eh? First of all, that’s awesome! It takes a special type of person to recognize that something’s not working and to do something about it. Honestly, I always thought this is how everyone operates; however, that is not the case. I know too many people who are unhappy about things in their lives but they aren’t moved to do anything about it. Thankfully we are masters of our own world, right? And we have the freedom to choose a path that’s right for us.
Okay. Back to homeschooling. You’re thinking about homeschooling and your wondering where to start. Let me point you in the right direction.
Here are the first 7 things to do when you start homeschooling:
1. Go to this website and look up the laws and requirements of your state.
Some states are more homeschool friendly than others. Some require permission and some require nothing but written notification. Some require you to document your homeschool and keep records, others do not.
2. Withdraw you child from school.
Once you have notified the state that you intend to homeschool, withdrawal your child from school. You do not need to have everything figured out or your books in-hand to do this. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. This way, you won’t be tempted to skip step 3.
3. Allow your child to “deschool”.
For those kids who have had a rough school experience, this is essential. Give your child some time to let go of those negative feelings towards education. This is really hard for most of us because we are so excited for our homeschooling journey to begin. Here are some things you can do while your child is deschooling that will allow you to dip your feet in the waters. If your child is under 8 (maybe even older) this may even make up most of your homeschool after deschooling.
- Read to your child. Let them pick out a book, and read them a chapter a day. Read books that you like and they’d never think to read. Read them poetry and magazine articles and comics. Just read. Once you’re done reading if your child feels up to it, talk about what you’ve read and see where the conversation leads.
- Allow (but don’t require) them play educational games and apps. Geography games, math fact games, coding games, they are all great. Young children, especially, learn best through play.
- Watch documentaries together. Let them pick out the documentary and just enjoy it together. Grab a blanket and pop some popcorn; make it a pleasant experience. Remember not to quiz them or turn it into school, we’re deschooling here.
- Get out and explore. Go for a walk, a hike, or a bike ride. Go to museums, the zoo, or an art show. But don’t turn it in to “school.” Don’t print out worksheets or quiz them on what they’ve learned. Instead have real conversations with your child, use this as an opportunity to get to know their interesting little minds. If your child doesn’t want to talk, respect that and just enjoy the experience.
- Let them play. Children learn through play and imitation so play is really important.
4. Take some time to research different homeschooling styles.
There is Unschooling, Classical homeschooling (Charlotte Mason), Eclectic homeschooling, just to name a few. You will also want to read about how children learn, and educate yourself on the abilities of children your child’s age. You want to make sure your expectations of your child are appropriate. Read as much as you can and watch Ted Talks – Get inspired! Here is a helpful website with this information.
5. Talk with your kids and dream together.
Merge your expectations of homeschool and allow them take some ownership of their education. If they were in charge of their education what would it look like? What didn’t they like about public school? What did they like? What things do they find difficult and what do they find easy. What sports and hobbies interest them? What are their favorite subjects and what are their least. What can you do to make their least favorite subjects more bearable? We feel a personal responsibility when something is ours, let them feel their education is theirs.
6. Find a homeschool group.
This is so important. Being home with children can be very alienating and lonely. Find a local homeschool group that you and your children mesh well with. Create that tribe. Oh and your kids! They will want friends. Apart from the link I inserted above, you can find groups on Facebook and Meetup.
7. Get started! Buy your curriculum – or don’t (Maybe you’ve decided to unschool your children). Whatever you decide to do, be patient with yourself and your children. This is new for both of you. Your kids need you to be great, not perfect. Here a few things to keep in mind when you are starting out.
- Start a routine thats flexible (life happens). It’s great to plan for the week, but try not go further than that. Your kids may get inspired and want to dig deeper in a subject. They may struggle and need more time, or maybe you need to go back to clear up some misconceptions before moving forward.
- Try not to do everything at once. School should only be a few hours long, if your spending more than three hours at the table, your kids will probably start to resent school. Put something down before picking something else up. Maybe Thursdays and Fridays you put down math and writing and do science and art. Maybe you do sports the first half of the year and art lessons the second half.
- Continue to read blogs and educate and inspire yourself!
I hope this was helpful if you are just starting on your journey! If this in not the beginning of yours, what do which you would have known when you were getting started?