Parents are choosing to homeschool for a variety of reasons – from religious and moral beliefs to personalizing a curriculum based on their children’s needs. Whatever your reason for choosing to homeschool, it can be tough to figure out where to start. Take a deep breath. You’ve already done a lot of “homeschooling” – you were your child’s first teacher after all.
Check Your State’s Rules
Homeschooling is regulated at the state level and the laws governing homeschooling vary across all 50 states. Before you begin planning lessons, make sure to check your state’s requirements. You are required to follow the laws in each state in which you reside, including any temporary locations where you plan to stay for over a month. The Home School Legal Defense Association – an organization founded by two homeschooling dads – has helpful online resources that explain the laws in each state.
Figure Out Your Teaching Philosophy
There are many approaches to homeschooling, and homeschoolers often classify themselves by the methods their homeschools follow, so it’s important to spend some time learning the unique characteristics of each method.
Ultimately, the method you choose will depend on your child’s learning capabilities and your own values. Some popular methods include unit study, unschooling, Moore formula, Waldorf method, textbook-based homeschooling and blended learning.
Find Your Local Homeschool Community
Many beginners fear homeschooling their children might lead to a dip in their kids’ social life. While it is true children who are homeschooled spend a considerable portion of their day at home, most of them have wonderful social lives as well.
Homeschoolers are a wide variety of people from all walks of life. They include urban parents who want to personalize their children’s education, parents who want to ensure their kids learn religious values along with textbook studies, etc. Finding a local community of like-minded homeschoolers can be a boon. You’ll be able to set your kids up for playdates, local sports leagues, volunteer opportunities and much more through an engaged homeschool community.
Transitioning Your Kids
If you have recently made the decision to begin homeschooling children who have spent years in traditional public or private schools, remember that your kids might need some time to “deschool.”
It’s important for your children to gradually let go of their school culture if they are to fully reap the benefits of homeschooling. It might take some time for you and your kids to get into the rhythm of homeschool as they learn to adapt to lessons and teaching methods that might be very different from what they are used to.
As you start to spend even more time with them on a daily basis, you will begin to adapt to their needs and they will begin to adjust to yours. Deschooling can also give kids time to explore interests they might not have been able to as part of traditional schooling, so it’s important to give them this time to adapt and grow.
Follow Your Instincts
Don’t lose sight of why you chose to homeschool in the first place – friends, teachers, family and even other homeschoolers will all have opinions on your decision and your choice of homeschooling method. Remember that your child’s well-being and learning come first.
You know your children better than anyone, and you are equipped to design the best curriculum for them. All children learn differently, and at their own pace, so dare to be different.
Your homeschool can be anything and everything you want it to be. Turn grocery runs and restaurant outings into lessons about math, spending and saving. Organize field trips to the local zoo or botanical garden and star gaze with your tots on camping trips. The sky is the limit.
Homeschooling can be a wonderful and rewarding experience. You get to tailor your kids’ education to their personal needs and wants and in return you get to see them bloom into successful adults. You are the most important ingredient in the homeschool recipe, so just mix in steady commitment and hard work for a recipe for success!
Kate Whiting is the founder and CEO of Educents, a marketplace that empowers parents to help their children succeed. To learn more, visit Educents.com.