How to Start Homeschooling in 10 Simple Steps
Posted by homeschoolmentormom on March 31, 2010
1. Pray. Pray about your decision, and ask the Lord to give you the wisdom and patience you will need. Also ask Him to give you His vision for your homeschool. What should your goals be? What does He want you to teach your children this year—and how should you teach it? (See tab, “Homepreschool Goals” if you have a young child; your primary goals should be the same–just add mastering the basics–the 3 R’s.) To solidify your decision, be sure to explore the links related to “Making the Decision to Homeschool” under the tab, “Important Links”.
2. Write down your goals and the vision the Lord gives you, and then don’t be afraid to step out in faith and go for it! This vision might have to do with your homeschooling lifestyle, character and Bible learning goals for your children, or academics…but whatever it is, trust the Lord’s inspiration and follow His leading.
3. Research the legalities involved. Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states; some states require little to nothing, others make you jump through a few hoops. Go to Home School Legal Defense’s website, You Can Homeschool. There you will find links to your state’s laws and support groups. They will help you meet the requirements of the law in the simplest way possible.
If you are pulling your children out of public school, HSLDA and your local support group can guide you step by step; be sure to contact them before pulling your children out of public school.
Remember to check the compulsory age of attendance in your state. In many states, Kindergarten isn’t mandatory. You might not have to worry about the legalities at all until your children are 6 or even 7 years old (this varies from state to state.)
4. Join HSLDA; most private school satelite programs require it. HSLDA is an essential part of protecting our rights to homeschool. They will also protect you from any legal problems you might encounter if you need to pull your children out of public school. HSLDA monitors legislation in every state, as well as nationally. Best of all, HSLDA can provide you with peace of mind.
5. Contact your local Christian homeschool support group and join it now. The best place to find your group is Home School Legal Defense’s website. Click on your state to find the group closest to you. You can also Google your city/state and the words, “Christian Homeschool Support Groups”, or your state’s name plus the words, “Considering Homeschooling groups,” “Exploring Homeschooling” or “Smoothing the Way Groups.” These groups offer mentors and/or meetings to help you get started and help you during your first year of homeschooling.
I can’t overemphasize the importance of a good, Christian support group! Our group is like our church family; we love, support, and encourage each other. Our group even serves each other in emergencies (when I was on bed rest during a pregnancy, our support group brought us meals!) Your group has a wealth of love and support, as well as a network of helps and activities just waiting for you. Don’t try to be a lone ranger; get involved and let them bless you. You and your children need them, and they need you, too.
6. Find out where your child is in his/her learning now. (This is vital because our goal should be to start where are children are now, and move them out from there.) There are several ways to do this. The easiest way is through home assessments. Depending on your child’s age, assess the following: Does your child know his phonics, including the “blends” like ch, ck, cl, cr, th, sp, sw, etc? Is your child reading fluently and with expression? Can she write a complete sentence? (Does she know what a complete sentence is?) Does your child know her math facts? And so on.
If you child is being pulled out of school, you might have tests or paperwork to look over or perhaps, if you believe it is wise, you could talk to your child’s former teacher. (See Homepreschool and Beyond for more information.)
7. Determine your child’s learning style. How does your child learn? Through hearing it? Seeing it? Experiencing it? Writing it down? OR, perhaps some combination of these? Oklahoma Homeschool’s site has lots of good information about this, as does A-Z Home’s Cool Homeschool site. If you are still not sure about your child’s learning style, don’t worry about it; just observe your child as you go along, and note your child’s most successful learning experiences. Finally, remember that it’s better for young children to learn using hands-on/several different modalities (see it/hear it/play with it/etc.)
8. Research methods and curriculums. If you feel totally lost, a good place to start is (again!) Oklahoma Homeschool. Be sure to print up and use the Curriculum Planner Worksheets—especially the first one, which will help you assess your preferred methods of teaching (scroll down to find it.) Another helpful site is Home School Curriculum Advisor . (Just Google “homeschool methods”, though, and you’ll get thousands of results.)
The most commonly used methods are traditional textbook/worktext (a textbook with “fill in the blanks” included); unit studies (see my posts that explain units), literature approaches, including Charlotte Mason, and the classical approach…but there are many more. You should know that most homeschoolers are “eclectic”, meaning that they customize and combine several different methods, and use several different curriculums (versus ordering a “boxed” curriculum from one supplier.) My preferred methods include the “Beechick” approach with elements of unit studies/Charlotte Mason/literature approach and Notebooking. (Many different methods fit together perfectly.)
Before you order anything, remember to ask yourself: Can I teach this without using a curriculum? Does this fit the methods I like to use, and my children’s learning style? (For much more on choosing and using curriculum inluding 20+ important tips, read Homepreschool and Beyond.)
9. Gather your materials. Start simply. Start by choosing your Bible curriculum; it’s the most important. I find that once I choose my Bible curriculum, the rest seems to fall into place. It could be as simple as a Bible story book or a devotional book, or it could mean a more formal “curriculum.” You might even find what you need at your local Bible bookstore—especially if your children are young. (See Homepreschool and Beyond for more details.) I encourage new homeschoolers to start with only 4 subjects: Bible, math, language arts, and reading aloud (for us, a unit study.) This will give you time to break into the homeschool routine, and discover what works for your family. You might even discover that you and your children are enjoying the read aloud time so much, that you want to stick with it and continue to use a literature/unit study approach.
If you are pulling your children out of public school, you might want to allow your children some “detox” time before you begin, and then, you might consider slowly adding to your daily routine (again, start with Bible) until you are doing all your subjects daily.
10. Set up a simple daily routine (see “Routine” tab.) Remember, it doesn’t have to be timed to the minute; just a simple schedule of “what comes next” will suffice. Be sure to keep your lessons short and give your children frequent breaks.
Now you’re ready to get started!
Remember, relationship is more important than curriculum. It is the love, time, and attention that you give to your children that is the most important element of your homeschool. The heart of homeschooling is time spent together reading aloud and discussing what you’ve learned. Whatever curriculum/method you use, be sure not to overlook homeschooling’s greatest strengths: a) One-on-one attention (beware of any method that asks your children to work too independently), b) Conversation, and C) Individualizing the curriculum (your child might need 1rst grade math, 2nd grade phonics, and 3rd grade history–and that’s OK!)
You can make due with almost any curriculum if you have to, but it’s almost impossible to homeschool successfully without developing healthy, loving relationships, so make the main thing the main thing! (See the Relationships tab.)
May the Lord richly bless you as you start homeschooling!
This post contains excerpts from the book, “Homepreschool and Beyond”; used with permission. © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.