Thursday, February 6, 2014

I'm thinking about homeschooling. Where do I start?



Over the years I've had several different people ask me about homeschooling and where to begin.  Some of them were pulling their kids out of public school, and some were starting at the beginning.

Unfortunately, some of my favorite resources and websites have disappeared, and I've had to come up with new lists in recent years.  I know there are other "getting started" lists and websites available, but I still thought I'd put together my own list of  steps for starting homeschooling, helpful websites, and my favorite books.


KNOW THE LAW
The first step to getting started with homeschooling is to know your state's laws. Do you need to register? Are you required to use an umbrella school? Do you need to file every year, turn in reports, test annually? Get the legal stuff out of the way before you start homeschooling so you won't have to worry later.

We are in Kansas, and if you're also from Kansas, this website will help you get started as well as register your homeschool with the state: http://www.kansashomeschool.org/

HSLDA provides legal information and protection to members, but their website also includes helpful information for non-members.  You can look up your state laws and requirements here - http://www.hslda.org/hs/default.asp   

HSLDA also has created a new website called You Can Homeschool that has helpful information about homeschooling.   There is also information on their own website still: 
  - http://www.hslda.org/LandingPages/teaching-my-kids.asp
  - http://www.hslda.org/earlyyears/StartHere.asp




IDENTIFY YOUR HOMESCHOOL STYLE
There are several different websites that have been compiled to help you figure out what educational method and curriculum type you want to use.

My favorite resource used to be the Elijah Company catalog, and when they went out of business I kept one of their catalogs for the longest time.  If you can find one of these, the beginning pages are full of wonderful information.  In the meantime, the owners of the Elijah Company do have another website which is also very helpful.  Check out this getting started guide, as well as the links in the left sidebar:   http://www.homeschoolmarketplace.com/choosing/index.html
 

Home Educating Family Magazine has a helpful How To Homeschool page on their website.

This website also has information on different homeschool approaches. http://www.homeschool.com/Approaches/


FIND YOUR CURRICULUM
Often discovering your homeschool style will naturally point you in a direction for curriculum. Sometimes, though, we can't afford what seems to be the obvious choice, or we don't find a perfect fit for our family. In that case, you need to start looking elsewhere. Ask other homeschool families for suggestions, and check out these websites:

  • Homeschool Mosaics has a wonderful list of free resources online - http://homeschoolmosaics.com/homeschooling-for-free/   
  • Rainbow Resource is a huge catalog of homeschool curriculum, supplements, books, and other resources.  Request their mega-print-catalog, but don't let it overwhelm you.  
  • Christianbook.com sells many homeschool curriculums, and their website is easier to search than Rainbow Resource.   
  • Homeschool Classifieds is just one of several websites where you can purchase used materials.  Be wise, but most people are honest.
  • Cathy Duffy is well-known for her curriculum reviews, authoring several books and this helpful website. 


MAKE A PLAN
It doesn't have to be complicated, but you do need to have a bit of a plan for getting started with homeschooling.  Will you school 4 days a week?  5 days a week?  Will you school year-round?  Will you work with your kids as a group, or try to teach them each one-on-one?

These websites have some helpful steps for getting started and planning out your school year, or at least your first month:


FIND A MENTOR OR SUPPORT GROUP
You don't need to plug into a homeschool co-op or classes right away, but you do need to find some support.  Whether you reach out to other homeschool moms in your community or connect with an online community, you're going to need to find a group where you can ask questions, share your struggles ... and most importantly, be encouraged.

You can do an online search for local homeschool groups, or start asking around.  Some groups are small and may not make it onto an online list, though someone should be able to point you in the right direction if you ask locally or online. 

Once you've found your curriculum of choice, or homeschool style, there are also online communities for other homeschool families using that curriculum.  These are very helpful since they're using the same materials you are or share a similar educational or religious philosophy.




HELPFUL BOOKS AND RESOURCES
Books
  • The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell
  • Homeschooling for the Rest of Us by Sonya Haskins
  • Things We Wish We'd Known  by Diana Waring
  • Beyond Survival by Diana Waring
  • Educating the Whole-Hearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson 
  • Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola
  • Homeschooling on a Shoestring by Melissa Morgan
  • 101 Top Picks For Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy (or any of her other curriculum review books)

Magazines - many of these offer a free sample so you can decide if you want to order a subscription.


FINAL ADVICE FOR GETTING STARTED
Relax.  Don't panic!  You can do this.

Start gently and just focus on the basic subjects at first.  Do math every day, phonics, language arts, and handwriting.  If you don't have a science or history curriculum at first, you can find books at the library to read about science or history.

Become friends with your library, learn to use their inter-library loan system.  Read, a lot.  Read books to inspire yourself.  Read aloud to your kids.  Encourage them to read.

Remember, you can always add on more subjects and supplements as you find your groove and become comfortable with homeschooling.

Talk with your husband, talk with your children, and pray!  Homeschooling isn't easy, but it's also not as hard as you think.


God bless, and good luck!
April E.


This post has been entered into The July issue of The Carnival of Homeschooling, at Home Spun Juggling.

1 comment:

  1. My favorite "getting started" guide is actually an ebook, but it's still free. The reason I recommend it is because it's comprehensive without being overwhelming. It's so EASY to get overwhelmed when you first start doing your research on homeschooling, you know? Here's the link to the ebook which is called "Welcome to Homeschooling". http://www.time4learning.com/homeschool/welcome.htm

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