So you’ve finally decided to start homeschooling your child. Yay!
You are about to embark on one of the toughest yet most rewarding journeys you will ever have. You’ve made the decision, but now what? How do you get started homeschooling? What do you need? What do you do? I’ve come up with a few things that you need to think about in order to get started.
Be Clear On Why You Want To Homeschool.
You will be asked over and over and over again by everyone and their grandmother on what your reasoning is behind homeschooling. You’ll be asked by your family, your friends and even the cashier at the grocery store when your kids aren’t in school in the middle of a school day. At the end of the day though, the only opinion that really matters is your own and those that are directly involved (husband, wife, kids etc..). But…. You will be asked a lot and it’s nice to have a clear and confident answer (or you could just tell them to mind their own business :p)
Homeschooling is a major commitment that can take up to 15 years of your life, or more if you have multiple children. It is the most rewarding job you’ll ever take on but it can also be the toughest. Many mom’s have this vision in their head of what homeschooling is going to look like in their home before they start. For some, it’s long lazy days spent in nature, for others, it’s learning in Pinterest worthy home classrooms.
Whichever way you envision, just know that it will not always look like that. Some days it will but others will just be so, so incredibly hard and you’ll want to throw in the towel. For those days, you’ll need to reflect on why you wanted to start in the first place. Whether it be for religious, educational or even lifestyle purposes, be very clear on your why’s.
Know Your Legal Homeschooling Requirements
In Canada, every province has different legal requirements for homeschoolers as does every state in the U.S.A. Some provinces and states have stricter guidelines than others, so make sure your do your research. In Canada, you can check out homeschoolmedia.net for more information on specific provinces. Also, if you’re in Ontario take a look at ontariohomeschool.org. They are a fantastic resource for all things homeschool. In the U.S.A, you can find your legal requirements per state at hslda.org.
Related Post: The Top 5 Questions That I get Asked As A Homeschool Mom
Decide On Teaching Style
There are many different ways of teaching out there but in homeschooling there are 5 main methods:
Traditional: The traditional method is based off the regular public school experience. With this method, your kids learn in a classroom setting with textbooks and a traditional grading system.
Classical: This method involves teaching your children based on 3 stages of learning: the Grammar stage, the Logic stage and the Rhetoric stage. The Grammar stage, which is roughly grades 1-4, focuses on learning facts and memorization. The Logic stage, which is grades 5-8, focus on learning the why’s behind the facts and the Rhetoric stage, which is roughly high school, builds on the first 2 stages.
Charlotte Mason: Charlotte Mason believed that we should educate the whole child and not just their mind. This method involves learning through living books, narration and habit training.
Eclectic: In this method of learning, one creates their own teaching style by taking different ideas from each of the homeschool teaching methods.
Unschooling: The Unschooling method is a child-led approach to learning. While families who homeschool do learn the basics, their interests dictate the majority of what they study.
To learn more about each of the teaching styles, the video The 5 Flavors Of Homeschooling is worth the watch.
Understand Your Child’s Learning Style
When I first decided to homeschool my kids, I wanted to teach using the traditional method. I had envisioned a Pinterest perfect classroom, 2 little kids sitting happily at their desks, listening to me teach, while I stand at the front of the room. Unfortunately for me, my kids had other ideas. Neither of them are auditory learners, which I learned very quickly. There are 3 types of learning styles out there: Visual, which is learning through seeing, Auditory, which is learning through listening and Kinesthetic, which is learning through doing. It’s so important to find out what your child’s learning style is before you decide on a teaching method as some work better than other for each particular style. To learn more about children’s learning styles, check out this article from School Family.
Decide On Your Homeschooling Curriculum
I LOVE homeschool curriculum! Planning for the next homeschool year is one of my favourite parts of homeschooling. It can get so overwhelming though. There are almost too many choices, it’s hard to know what will be right for your family. Should you choose a full boxed curriculum? What about an online one? Should you pick and choose different curriculums for each subject? Or should you just make up your own unit studies? When choosing what works best for you and your family, there are a few things to consider:
Cost: Homeschooling can be as expensive or cheap as you want it to be. Do what’s best for your family. There are many boxed curriculums out there that can cost upwards of $1000 per child. As great and well planned out these curriculums are, you do not need to spend that much. Purchasing individual subjects can save you quite a bit of money or better yet, create your own unit studies and borrow books from the library for free.
Time: If you’re short on time or planning just isn’t your thing, boxed curriculums can be a great option. For our first year of homeschooling, I purchased Bookshark, which is a full curriculum because a) I didn’t have a ton of time to plan everything out and b) It was my first time. I didn’t really know how or what to plan. Purchasing individual subjects, while good for the wallet, can be very time consuming. This is my preferred choice. I’m a planner and usually start months in advance. I’ve yet to make my own unit studies, but maybe one day, I’ll give it a try.
Teaching Methods and Child Learning Styles: As I previously stated, there are 5 different teaching styles and 3 different learning styles that you should consider when purchasing curriculum. Do your research and pick a curriculum that both you and your child feel comfortable with. If either of you don’t like it, you won’t want to do it and it’ll just go to waste.
Related Post: How to Afford Curriculum On A Limited Budget
Find Your Homeschool Support System
Homeschooling can be extremely isolating for both you and your child, if you let it be. That’s why it is so important to find a a good support system. Many communities have homeschool support groups or co-ops where they meet up for monthly or weekly activities. It’s a great way for both you and your child to meet friends who have the same lifestyle as you. Facebook also has some great support groups for moms to discuss anything related to homeschooling. Whether it be curriculum, teaching or even your homeschool struggles, they can be a great resource for those who don’t feel comfortable joining an in-person support group.
Find Local Activities To Participate In
As I previously mentioned, homeschooling can be very isolating for some families. I always encourage other homeschoolers to get out and join in on some activities within your community. Whether it be sports teams, activities at the library or joining your local YMCA, participating is a fun way for your kids to make friends and for you to get out of the house and maybe make some friends too.
Did I miss anything? If you have any other ideas for those starting to homeschool, I’d love to hear them. Comment below.