How to start homeschooling your child

Every one is different and therefore everyone has a different opinion on homeschool. Some parents love it, some are considering it and some say they could never do it and that the child should have the experience of the classroom setting. If you belong to the “Yes to homeschooling” group, but you haven’t actually started homeschooling, you might feel quite overwhelmed.

Homeschooling is not as easy as it seems. You need to really commit, you need to know the law and state regulations, and in many states you need to submit portfolio with samples of student’s work, and your child needs to get tested every year to make sure he/she is thriving and progressing.

All this means that you’re responsible not only for the lessons, books, worksheets and science experiments materials…you’re also responsible for your child’s progress. You need to make sure you teach your child in a manner where your child does good on tests. In some states, if your child doesn’t pass the standardized test, you will be forced to put your child to public school. You also have to make sure you clock in a certain number of days and hours each year and that you teach all required subjects.

I don’t want to scare you though. I just want to make sure you are aware that homeschooling is not a vacation from public school and all the homework.

So for those that are considering homeschooling, let’s look at steps you should take if you want to homeschool your child.

Make a plan

Before you do anything else, sit down and make a simple plan. Make sure you really want to homeschool, that your child accepts homeschooling as well, and that you will have the materials necessary to successfully homeschool for the rest of the year.

Ask yourself questions like Why do I want to homeschool? Is homeschooling best for my child and for my family? Do I have enough time, and materials to successfully homeschool? What exactly do I want to accomplish? How do I make sure my child still socializes with kids of his/her age? Am I financially stable to stay at home full time and homeschool my child? Do I need a formal learning station set up in the house? Do I need to buy a desk or is sitting at the kitchen table ok? Do I have distract free environment where I can dedicate my time to homeschool my children? How long should lessons last? Should we do “school time” every day Monday-Friday?

These questions are important that way you know exactly what to expect, what your goals are and how you’re going to get there.

Choose learning materials

Research and choose materials you will use for your homeschooling journey. If you start searching on the internet, you will see there are plenty of options to choose from. The thing is though, not every one of them is right for you and your child. Different books have different teaching approaches. Some of them lead learning process with fun experiments and try to engage student in hands on experiences. Some books are worksheets based and focus on reading, writing, solving problems on the paper and writing down answers.
Both approaches are helpful and a mix of both might be the best option. Especially for the beginning, when you’re not sure which one to chose.

Every child learns different way so pay attention whether your child does better with structured worksheets, or if free expression is more his/her thing. There’s no right or wrong answer! At the end of the day, you just want your child to do good at school!

Talk to your child

Depending on your child’s age, you might want to talk to him/her about your decision to homeschool. You should take into consideration what your child thinks about homeschooling and about not being in the classroom with other classmates.

The transition might be difficult at first. Your child might really miss his/her classmates, teachers and the structured setting and activities. It might even feel lonely at times because your child is staying at home instead of going to school and meet with friends and teachers. There’s not as much going on at home. Your child might even tell you “That’s not how my teacher does it!” when you attempt to teach a “class”.

Before you start homeschooling, know these things might happen and that this is all normal and it will pass. Give yourself and your child some time to transition.

Have a “socialization” plan

Do a little research and find some homeschooling groups in your area. Many of them exchange materials, tips and tricks for successful homeschooling. Moms talk and meet. Many groups even meet for “classroom” time where kids learn, socialize, do arts and crafts, science experiments or go for field trips. Many museums also do homeschooling meetups as well so check those out too.

Know the law in your state

Alright, so you made a simple plan for your homeschooling journey, you chose what learning materials you are going to use, you talked to your child and you even did a pretty good research for your socialization plan. But can you really just pull your child out of the school and homeschool? Or do you need to fill out forms, submit learning plans and show up for end of the year standardized tests? You should look into this part of the homeschooling really well before you actually start, because it is VERY IMPORTANT to comply with local laws.

Many states require some sort of notice before you pull your child out of school, while other states don’t require any notice at all. HSLDA website has a map where you can click on a state to look up laws that apply to your state. I’d still double check with your state’s Department of Education just to make sure you do comply with all the laws. Last thing you want is to get fined for forgetting to fill out a simple form.

Create a routine

Once you know what you want to do, you checked out local laws and you set up the house for homeschooling, try to come up with some sort of schedule or routine. Be flexible and allow for adjustments, especially at the beginning.

Having a routine in place will help you keep on track. It’ll keep you accountable so you don’t get lazy or busy and skip a day or two. Your child will benefit from a routine as well. It’ll help him/her to treat homeschool like a real school, where he/she does have to do her school work, reading, activities, etc.

When you’re homeschooling, it’s easy to skip a day “just because you can”. You have a lot of work around the house, important call or just don’t feel like teaching today. Your child might also try to convince you that today should be a lazy day, that you should go out and play instead or that you’ll do homeschool tomorrow.

It’s ok to skip a day every now and then. Just be careful so it doesn’t happen too often. The flexibility homeschooling offers is nice, but also hard to manage at times. Schedule will help you keep on track. Successful homeschooling is the one where kids do their studying, reading, learning. Remember you chose homeschooling so you can teach your children yourself. Accountability is a wonderful lesson to teach your kids too. Teach them that there is time to learn and there is time to play. That hard work pays off. Show them that commitment and determination go a long way.

When you’re thinking about homeschooling your child, the whole process can be overwhelming. Thankfully, there are many groups and websites that will help you with the process. Find some local homeschooling moms/dads groups on facebook, they are great for asking questions, meet ups and for sharing some tips and tricks for homeschooling newbies. There are many websites that offer learning materials like books, lesson plans and worksheets. Many states require these and they are nice to have to keep you on track anyway. Do your research and find materials you think your child will enjoy.

Hope your homeschooling journey goes smooth. I am sure both, you and your child, will love it!