The summer has come and gone, the fall is upon us, and that means only one thing: back to school!
…Or does it? Millions of parents have decided to take schooling into their own hands. Whether it’s out of choice or necessity, many families are considering homeschooling their children this fall. But now what? Where do you start?
Believe it or not, it’s easier than you think and there are a lot of resources to help you and your kids.
Homeschool Is NOT School at Home
First, let’s dispel the myth: Homeschooling is not always “at-home schooling.” There are a lot of hybrid models that involve co-ops, learning pods, and parents partnering with one another to keep their kids all engaged and learning.
Know Your Legal Framework
Know your rights! Every state has different homeschooling laws. One easy resource is the Home School Legal Defense Association, and their state-by-state legal guide: https://hslda.org/legal
Don’t be afraid or intimidated about doing your own research. Check your state’s department of education website, and look for local or state homeschooling coalitions to find help and community closer to home.
Every Year and Every Kid is Different
Embrace the flexibility around homeschooling. For some kids, it’s a great education pathway for their entire K-12 experience, while for other students and families, homeschooling is a one-, two-, or three-year experience.
Besides, what might be right for one of your children may not be right for the other(s). Just because you homeschool one child doesn’t mean all of your children need or respond best through a homeschool experience.
Choose Your Homeschooling Method
Again, you’re not trying to recreate traditional school at home. Take advantage of the flexibility of homeschooling to help your children learn in ways that wouldn’t be possible within an institutional setting.
You’ll need to do some reading on homeschooling methods, and you’ll have the freedom to try things out and see what works. The freedom to keep making changes until you find what works best is another benefit of homeschooling. You aren’t failing when you try different methods. In fact, quite the opposite, you’re doing something that the traditional school model just isn’t built to do―you’re individualizing learning for your kid(s).
If you’re moving your child from traditional school, both children and parents need a period of de-schooling to adjust. Use this time to explore learning styles and homeschooling methods and to set up an environment conducive to homeschooling
Find Your Learning Resources
A lot of homeschool parents will encourage you to avoid buying a homeschool curriculum in the early stages of setting up a homeschool. Only after you understand your child’s learning style and select your homeschooling method should you go about finding a curriculum.
The ideal curriculum will be the one you can fit comfortably into your lifestyle and your child’s learning style. Some parents opt to have no set curriculum and instead support a lifestyle of learning everywhere (i.e., through diverse pathways).
If you feel more comfortable having a curriculum, be sure to read widely, checking homeschoolers’ reviews on different learning resources. You can save money, too, by finding sites that offer used curriculum resources.
Connect with Homeschooling Networks
Learning is an ongoing process to be facilitated by everyone around the learner. Therefore, you stand a better chance of success if you can also involve your family members in the homeschooling process. Help them understand why you are making your choices and how they can support both you and your children.
It will be helpful to connect with homeschooling groups near you. Check that these groups follow the same philosophies and fit your homeschooling perspective. Some states have events and conventions where you can pick up more tips and resources to help with your journey.
Get Social in New Ways
Homeschool networks and co-ops offer tremendously beneficial ways to keep kids working socially. But “schooling” isn’t the only time (or even the best time) to be social. Check out your local YMCA or parks department website and hunt around for camps, leagues, lessons, and activities for your child. This new schooling setup will give you and your child the flexibility to partake in a rich array of other activities.
Homeschooling: You Can Do It!
This brief guide is only the starting point in guiding you toward your first steps in setting up a homeschool. You will find more information as you conduct your research.
Your best friends in the homeschooling journey will be time and an open mind. Know that over time it gets easier to assess how effective your homeschooling methods are and how to improve them. Approaching everything lightly makes it easier to shed what does, and doesn’t, work in terms of your child’s interests and aptitudes. For additional help, resources, and a community of parents to assist ya, join the Learn Everywhere Facebook Group.