Even if you have already made the decision to homeschool you may still have dozens of questions, worries, and indecisions. This is a whole new world for you and your child and knowing what you are supposed to do to stay within legal realms and deciding what kind of homeschooling, and then what curriculum is right can all add up to one really worried (and stressed) Momma and kids picking up on that by default. Slow down, take deep breaths Momma because you have made an awesome choice for you and your family. You just need to take it one step at a time and these 5 steps to take before you start homeschooling are a great place to start.
Trust me, I know how you’re feeling. When we first started homeschooling our daughter, my mind spun for weeks with questions and worries. “Was I making the right choice?” “How was I going to manage it and work full time while managing a home?” “Do I want to go with a more self-guided curriculum or something more rigid?” “How do I protect my family in case we get questioned or have issues?” If you take each question one at a time, you’ll spare yourself a lot of stress.
Find out about the homeschool laws for your state- Each state is different in what they require; some require no notification or contact with the parent at all, and some have strict regulations such as notification,and approval of chosen curriculum. It is very important before you go any further that you are very familiar with your particular state and even school districts homeschool requirements. HSLDA is a great place to start. You can join the HSLDA- Home School Legal Defense Association for $120 per year. They are available to help you with any legal issues that might arise with your state or district.
Also be sure to check for any state associations as well. Here in Tx, we have the THSC that we can join as well (and we did) for only $10.00 a month. Aside from the legal help if we need it, we also receive discounts to their homeschool conventions and a ton of other stuff as well. This also provides us with school id’s for the Monkey Child so that she can still take advantage of activities that may require it (oh and helps me to get teacher discounts for school supplies and curriculum too so it’s win/win!)
Choose Your Curriculum – Once you have learned what is required by your state you can begin to research curriculum. Do you want to piece it together, subject by subject yourself or do you want to purchase a box curriculum where everything is included? You may also choose to do an online private or K12 curriculum. Do your research online by talking to other homeschool moms about what they like or dislike about any of the ones you’re looking at using.
Here are some ways you can learn about the different curriculums
- If possible attend a homeschool convention or curriculum fair
- Find homeschool groups on Facebook or forums right on the curriculum sites
- Search online for local homeschool groups or co-ops
- Order catalogs from any and all curriculum sites you are interested in.
- Search blogs for reviews on different curriculums
- Subscribe to homeschool magazines
There is no wrong way to homeschool, what works for one family may not work for the next. Go with what your gut says. You can always switch things up later on if you need or want to.
Don’t forget too that there are a boat load of homeschool freebies available. I keep a running huge list of homeschool freebies here on the blog that is updated monthly. Make sure you check it out too because it could save you hundreds each year.
Educents is great for finding deals on curriculum and supplements too. Most of the time you can buy their items for around 90% off of retail costs and yes, it is one of my favorite sites to use.
Determine where homeschool takes place – If you have an entire room that is dedicated to homeshcooling that is great, but really isn’t necessary. From experience I can tell you many homeschoolers prefer to school at the kitchen table, or even on the couch. We personally split my office in half. One side is my work area and the other is a dedicated homeschool area. For us, we found that our daughter learns much better when she’s free of distractions that may happen in the rest of the house. Have a game plan in mind. If you are short on space you can store your items in a storage box that slides under the bed, inside of a hutch, a bookcase or inside a storage style coffee table.
Enjoy it – Whether you made this decision for religious freedom, quality time with your kids, to avoid peer pressure, bullying or other issues you chose it for a reason. Enjoy your kids, learn together, don’t forget there is no one size fits all. Take time for field trips, snuggling and reading on the couch, library visits and so much more. These years are so precious.
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