5 Tips for Getting Started with Homeschool
So you want to start homeschooling your kiddo(s), but you have NO IDEA where to begin? You are not alone! The transition and adjustment from having your child enrolled in a school setting to full-time homeschooling can be a bit overwhelming. Actually, a lot overwhelming!
We began homeschooling our son about a year ago, and I must admit that being on your own, trying to navigate the homeschooling curriculums available and when and how and why and….it gets to be a lot. That’s why we opted for a K12 program initially. We thought this would be a good way to help us “get used” to the whole homeschooling routine. Turns out, it wasn’t a good fit for us, so we moved into what I like to call the more “traditional” homeschooling route – hand-picked curriculum by yours truly. It has been a great experience ever since!
When adjusting to a homeschooling lifestyle, there are some things you might want to consider doing before making the full commitment.
1 | Check Your State’s Homeschooling Laws
This step is a pretty critical step in getting started with homeschooling. You can check sites like hslda.org or just Google “[your state] homeschooling laws” in order to get yourself informed with what your state requires of you.
Homeschooling laws will typically outline what subjects you must cover, how many hours are required to be completed, any testing requirements or home audits (if applicable), etc. This will help you when selecting curriculum, and it will keep you out of any trouble legally. Each state has different laws, so be sure to check!
2 | Identify What’s Important for Your Family & Choosing Faith-Based vs. Secular-Based Curriculum
Once you make the decision to homeschool, it’s important to identify why you want to homeschool. Along with understanding why you are making this change, you can determine whether you want to seek out faith-based curriculum or secular (non-faith)-based curriculum.
Identify what is most important for you and your family, and think about what suits your family’s needs.
Other families choose to go down the more secular curriculum route (like we did). This means that the curriculum we chose has no biblical or faith-based references throughout. Some of the more secular curriculums include Global Village School or combining various subjects with a secular view for an eclectic curriculum or even taking an unschooling approach.
3 | How to Locate and Navigate Curriculum Options
Narrowing down types of curriculum gets a little easier once you have identified whether you want a faith-based curriculum or a secular-based curriculum. Google and YouTube were by far my best resources for locating curriculum options. Doing a quick Google search of “faith-based curriculum” or “secular-based curriculum” gets you tons of results. You can even search curriculum by grade level.
I liked using YouTube for general reviews of the curriculum that I was looking at. This helped me identify what others liked or didn’t like about the curriculum as they were using it with their own children. Often times, you will find moms (and sometimes dads) who will post their first impressions of said curriculum, and by looking on their channel, they may even post a mid-year or end of year review. I find those to be extremely helpful as it allows you to hear their experience over the course of the school year.
Please keep in mind, that when watching reviews of the curriculum, it is very subjective to each family. What works for one family may not work for another. Only you know what your child is capable of.
4 | Take Time to Learn Each Other & Minding “The Dip”
Use the first couple of months to learn about each other. You and your child are both starting a new routine and exploring a new learning environment. There will be an adjustment period for you both! If your child was previously enrolled in school, there is even more of an adjustment getting used to schooling at home.
There will come a time when you will experience “The Dip” during the first weeks of making the adjustment. “the Dip” is the moment between the honeymoon phase and finding your groove. It’s the moment when you begin to question everything – Did I make the right decision? Am I going to fail my child? What was I thinking? Just know, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! We went thorough this a couple of times since we ended up changing curriculum mid-year. It was rough, and there were several days I felt like I had made the wrong decision. In sticking through the tough times, we ended up finding a routine that worked best for our family. If you find yourself in “The Dip,” take a break. You can always start fresh the next day or the next, next day. Saving your sanity (and your integrity) is far more important that struggling through a school day that is just not happening.
It’s okay to get frustrated. You are learning together and it is a process. You will find your groove, and they will find theirs.
5 | Remember, You Can School ANYWHERE!
One of the most intriguing aspects of homeschooling is that you can do it anywhere! We have done school in coffee shops, libraries, playgrounds, and even at relative’s houses. Now, we are homeschooling in our RV as we travel across the States!
Homeschooling is flexible and convenient. Find a time and place that works best for your child’s learning environment. We also had a homeschool room, used only for school, when we lived in our bricks and sticks home. Make a schedule and find a routine that will allow you and your student to thrive.
The world is your classroom, so take advantage of it while you can! Want to take a field trip to the science museum? Build a science lesson around your visit. Plan activities that support your trip to the museum. Do the same for a historical site, national park, aquarium, nature conservatory, or just simply your own backyard. Not all schools have four walls, so why not take advantage of the resources around you? Like the great Miss Frizzle once said, “Take chances, make mistakes and get messy!”
Homeschooling will be an adventure where you will learn alongside your child as the years progress. No, you don’t need a teaching degree to teach your child, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! I like to think that homeschooling is more common today than ever before, which means there are far more resources out there to help support you along the way! You will get told that homeschooling is a mistake, and you will be told that you are incapable of giving your child a good education. Hold your chin up, and know that you know your child best. You got this!
Helpful Resources for Getting Started
Here are some of my favorite resources that I used to help get me started. I think they will be helpful for you as well!
- Confessions of a Homeschooler – Provides curriculum reviews for most grade levels
- Pam Barnhill – Talks about Loop Scheduling & Homeschool Solutions
Also, be sure to check out Facebook for local homeschooling groups. These are often helpful in connecting with other families who are doing the same thing, and they also often provide meet-ups and outings hat you can attend!
Good luck in your homeschooling ventures! It will be a wonderful adventure for you and your child!
To view the curriculum we have used so far, click here.