So, you've decided to take the plunge.
Or maybe you're on a trial basis or just checking out the rest of the series before you commit. That's cool.
There is sooooo much homeschool information out there that it could take you years to sort through it all. Especially with all the blogs there are.
You don't have that kind of time!
I'm going to condense it down for you these next few days. But first, I'm going to tell you the most essential things for you to do.
There may be a ton of information flying around out there, but take heart. Making the choice to homeschool is the biggest part. The hardest part. The rest will come.
I'll break it down in order of importance.
→ Law & State Requirements
Now, don't go freaking out. It's not going to kill you.
You can find out all you need to know on the internet. Oh, how I love Google.
HSLDA [Homeschool Legal Defense Association] is a wonderful resource for all things legal regarding Homeschooling.
They serve as advocates for homeschoolers in legal matters, on Capitol Hill, to our state legislatures, and in the media. They have been hard at work since 1983, and I personally feel great comfort knowing they are there for me.
What laws and requirements do you need to know?
Some states require a letter of intent from you to homeschool. It's not a big thing, just something for them to file away.
You may be required to keep records: attendance, school work, or portfolios. You may be required to take courses or have a college degree. Some states, like mine for instance, just require a letter by a certain grade level and that your child takes standardized testing over the years.
Don't sweat it.
Another resource would be fellow homeschoolers that live in your state. I'd ask at least 2-3 different HS parents to cover your bases. Homeschool groups can be a handy resource as well.
→ Be a boy scout
No, be better than a boy scout!
By that, I mean, be prepared.
What are your priorities?
What is going on in your life? Work? Marriage? Children? Home? Other obligations?
You may work out of the home, in the home, or on the side. You may have a spouse or significant other. Your children are a priority, obviously. You take care of the home you live in. You may have religious obligations. You could have extracurricular obligations as well. Are you a baseball mom? Coach for basketball. Dance teacher. You may be training for a triathlon.
List them out (in general terms) and figure out their order of importance. Be honest and also, if there is an order you'd like to aspire to, then by all means, make it so.
Here's mine for an example:
- Children -- them & homeschool
- Church obligations
Yours will be unique for you. Why is this important to do?
You may have a lot of demands on your time. You may have days that you just can't do it all (I think that's every day). You've got to make sure that homeschool is a priority enough for you to be consistent and motivated. You also need to know where things can be cut or pushed back, and what's non-negotiable.
What are your goals for your child? For yourself?
Goals are an important part of life.
You've got your reasons for homeschooling. Now what are your goals for each of your specific children and as a whole?
You'll want to think generally and specifically.
Your general goal could be to have your child be an independent thinker, with a love of learning, and self-motivation. To be happy and have many opportunities in their future.
Specific goals change each year, each semester, and maybe even each week.
Some examples: master their vowel sounds, improve their handwriting, become fluent in a language (ASL??), learn to be more grateful, etc, etc.
Goals are a good starting place. You want your child to grow and improve and it's best to have a goal to use as a measuring stick of that growth. These goals also serve as a great reminder for you when you are in research and prep mode and in the midst of homeschooling.
Organize it up!
I love lists. I love files. I love notebooks.
You'll want to start a list for the next few days of what you want and need to get started on.
You may want to start a Pinterest board, or a bookmark folder in your browser for all the things you'll be finding and researching.
You may want to start a file in your documents folder for all the freebies and files you download along the way.
Get a notebook to take notes in as you start your research. Put your goals and priorities in there. Then get ready to start jotting down things that jump out at you and resonate in your heart. Write any questions down that you may have and leave some room to put down the answers as you find them.
Don't go crazy and start trying to do it all at once! I'm going to walk you through the critical steps for the next few days. Work on one a day.
I know, I know, you're going to try to do it anyway. I'm one of those people, too. I can sit in front of the computer for days researching and researching.
Got a library card?
No? Well, you're a homeschooler now, so you'd better get one. Or, if you're like me, pay off that blasted fine already!
In the coming days I'll be mentioning some books for you to check out. You can buy them, or you can check them out at your library first, then buy them.
→ Be true to you and your child
What do you need from homeschooling? What does your child need?
I may do things one way and there are 50 homeschooling families that will do it 50 different ways as well. It's wonderful that there are so many of us helping and supporting each other. It's a dream to homeschool now as opposed to 20 years ago.
With that comes the dreaded comparing. Don't try and force yourself into someone else's mold. Don't try to be all 51 families you read about at once.
Think about your child's strengths and weaknesses. Think about your own. Plus your priorities and your goals. That is your guide for these coming days, weeks, and years.
Do what works for you and your family and stick with that.
Let go of that easy tendency to compare and feel guilty and inadequate.
Need I remind you that you are your child's parent for a reason. You are uniquely qualified to be their mother or father. No one else can replace you. Use your talents and strengths. Don't try to use someone else's.
Okay. I'm getting off my soap box now.
Go! Frolic in the wind! Or get to work. Whichever suits you best.
I'm here for ya!
Next up -- Homeschooling Methods