Four Tips Pro Home Schoolers Want Newbies to Know
If you are considering homeschooling your children, I know you are overwhelmed. You probably have blog posts, curriculums, Facebook groups and random strangers’ advice coming out your ears.
Don’t worry. I am here to help.
You know how I know all that? Because I feel exactly the same way. There are about a 248,601 curriculums out there to choose from, and how in the world do I pick one? Can my child really learn as well from home as they would if I just sent them to school? And what about me? If they don’t go to school, I’ll be that much busier and stressed.
I get it.
But I also know, if you are considering homeschooling, you’ve been able to look past all that because you know there are amazing benefits, as well. A tailored education, one-on-one teaching, and more control over shaping your child’s character are just a few.
Like you, I’m determined to give my child the education they deserve, but I definitely need some guidance starting out. So, I spoke to a few of my friends who are homeschooling pros. They’ve been doing it for years and can help you and I avoid some trial and error.
Here are four things I learned every beginner should do:
RESEARCH YOUR STATE’S LAWS
One of the first things you need to do before you get started homeschooling is research your state’s laws and regulations. At what age are kids required to go to school? Do they require any standardized testing? Do you have to register your school? Are you required to take attendance or fill out grade reports?
For example, in Kansas, where we live, home schools are classified as non-accredited private schools. Kids between 7 and 18 are required to be in school, and the school must meet state attendance regulations. I have to register a school name and address with the State Board of Education.
In Kansas, there is not a required number of hours per day or days per year to school, and keeping track of grades is not mandatory, either. However, recording both these things is a wise thing to do – and I plan to – since you would need them if your kids ever did go to public school or college.
Kansas is kind of middle-of-the-road as far as the “strictness” of home schooling regulations. Other states require much more, while some others require basically nothing. But you’ll want to know exactly what is required before you start.
FIND A CO-OP
These days, there are tons of local and online co-ops, as well as other great resources for homeschoolers. Try to find a local and active co-op for your kids. Co-ops can offer everything from extracurriculars to general support.
Gone are the days when homeschoolers worried about a child’s social skills. Co-ops get homeschooling families together for classes (like art and science), extracurriculars (like park playdates and museum tours) and athletics. Plus, they are a great resource for questions, sharing ideas, and overall encouragement.
Another great thing about co-ops is the families involved generally share common values. I would worry way more about peer pressure if my kids were in public school and I had no control over their choice of friends (and I know this because I went to public school!).
Don’t freak out (too much). You can do this! I can promise you, there isn’t a single homeschooling parent who didn’t have doubts and fears in the beginning of their journeys.
There are so many resources available nowadays, that “I can’t teach” isn’t a good enough excuse anymore! There are complete curriculums, support groups, co-ops, and tons of online videos for your family. I promise, they can get a great education from home.
You may believe that you aren’t equipped to teach, or that you may not be able to handle being responsible for your child’s education. You couldn’t be more wrong. YOU are the best person for the job. You know your child – his (or her) personality, learning style, struggles, and needs. There is no one better.
If your background includes mostly public school, you probably think “school” has to look and function a certain way. But the beauty of homeschooling is, it doesn’t! It can look and work however is best for YOUR family. Which leads me to my next point…
Another great thing about homeschooling is that you can work at your pace. Go to homeschool conventions, and you’ll hear over and over: it’s not about how many facts you can cram in your kid’s head, it’s about developing character, learning HOW to learn, and cultivating an overall love of learning. (And there are a lot of things you can teach that they won’t learn in public school!)
Take the whole first year and just figure out what’s best for your family.
- Do you like to school in the morning, or is afternoon better?
- Do you need a specific routine?
- Does it work better to do an hour of school, take a lunch break, and then finish up for the day?
- Do you like schooling all year round, or should you take the summers off?
These are all things you can decide with your family, and there’s no “right” way to do it.
I hope this has been encouraging for you, and that you feel more equipped to start homeschooling!
SEASONED HOMESCHOOLERS, WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU ADD TO THE LIST?