Okay, so you want to homeschool your children, right? WHERE in the world do you start? I was in your shoes. I’ve felt the stress of trying to figure it all out when it was a little less popular to homeschool. I’m here to share with you what I’ve learned along the way and 7 items to research and think about before homeschooling your children.
I’m merely sharing my own tips from my experience and want to share them with you. It’s important you do your own research and know the requirements where you reside.
Homeschooling 101: 7 Items to Research and Think About Before Homeschooling Your Children
1. State Laws and Requirements
The best resource I can give you for laws and requirements is HSLDA.org . This is website lists each state’s rules around homeschooling. If you visit their website, you can look at the United States map and select your particular state. On this website, they will list the number of days/hours required to homeschool your children, a list of subjects that are need to be covered, filing process, record keeping styles, and so much more.
This organization is used by many homeschoolers and they offer a yearly membership to protect homeschooling families. We first found out about this organization by attending a homeschool convention and later became members.
2. Curriculum and Homeschool Style
There are so many homeschool styles out there. There is Unschooling, Deschooling, Charlotte Mason, Waldorf, Classical, and Montessori, just to name a few. There are many people that will tell you that you “need” to pick a style and base your curriculum decisions off of that. I’m here to tell you that you can mix and match the styles and make it your own. You do not need to be a Charlotte Mason purest or a do travel school in order for your children to receive a beautiful education. You will likely lean more into one or two styles but you don’t need to stress yourself trying to make sure you follow the “rules.” After all, freedom is one of the most exciting parts of homeschool, am I right?
After you’ve decided for yourself what style of homeschool looks best for you, curriculum is likely the next item you’ll want to research. This is where having like-minded homeschooling families come into play. Having a more seasoned homeschooling family share guidance or their experience with curriculum is really invaluable. This doesn’t mean that if it worked for them, it’ll work for you, or vice-versa. What it does mean though, is that you’ll be able to make a more informed decision as to whether it’d be a good fit for your family or not.
3. Where You Plan to Homeschool
We have moved our homeschool location several times over the years. The first location in our house was a bonus room. We have shelves and learning toys set up and it was a fine location for the time being. Later, as our children grew older, the dining room was a perfect spot for us to school. It was a fantastic spot because we have an open floor plan, which allowed me to cook lunch and make other meals and drinks without disturbing our lessons. After a few years, we have now decided to bring our homeschool room downstairs to our basement. The thing with homeschooling is that you can make it your own and depending on the season you’re in, your location may change over time.
One thing to remember is that you’re not trying to re-create the classroom setting you would find at your local public school. Make it your own! Pull your family’s interests into your room and your children will thrive in their setting.
Setting a schedule doesn’t have to look like an hour by hour or minute by minute plan but you do want to have some sort of plan. This is just so you can make sure you’re meeting the time requirements set from your state. Some states require X hours recorded. Others require a number of weeks or days each homeschooling family must meet. Be sure to look at HSLDA for your time requirement.
After you’ve determined the number of hours/days your state requires, figure out what schedule works best for your family. This has changed often for us but we generally knock out all of our “book” work in the mornings so that the afternoon is spent schooling outdoors.
5. Homeschool Portfolio and Record Keeping
Our state in particular requires a homeschool portfolio review by a licensed teacher. This is a compilation of work from each subject area at the beginning, middle, and end of the year. It’s simply a way for the licensed professional to see the educational progress from each of your children. Items I have placed in our portfolios throughout the years have been worksheets, math problems, recipes, field trips, book lists, narrations, nature journals, and more.
Some items that you will want to keep track of are below:
Independent book lists
Read aloud book lists
Field trip lists
Photos of anything relevant educational projects
Any other items you feel are important
Below is a Portfolio Documentation Guide I created to help you organize your homeschool. Print these pages to help you document your year with your little ones.
6. Don’t Compare Yourself
Comparison is such a mood-killer. We’re slammed with everyone’s successes and curriculum choices on social media these days. When you find yourself comparing your family’s successes with homeschool to others, I would recommend stepping away for a while and diving deep into what you feel led to do with your family. So many people now days indirectly (or directly) tell you their VERY strong feelings about curriculum, or teaching styles, or enjoy showing their fancy new homeschool rooms. None of that's necessary. You are qualified and have been given a gift of this time home with your children…please don’t waste it on the comparison game! Be yourself and know that the Lord will guide you to the things you and your family need in order to home educate.
7. Love Your Children and Enjoy the Experience
Although some days feel long, the years are so short. Before you know it your little ones will be off getting their own jobs and raising their own families. Enjoy every moment you get to cuddle on the couch during read aloud time. Enjoy teaching new math concepts. Enjoy the little things and be there for your children when they need extra hugs after a tough handwriting lesson.
I pray these Homeschool 101 tips will help you get started on this wonderful journey!
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