A beginner’s guide on what you need to start homeschooling, how to set it up to work for your family and reassurance from a former public school mom
To be really honest I never had any intentions of homeschooling my children. I’ve had many friends through the years who homeschool their children and while I always admired them and completely supported them in their journey I never really thought it would be part of my story. I always said I didn’t have the patience for homeschooling.
If there’s anything I’ve learned about 2020 it’s to never say never. I have eaten my words on many things I said I would “never” do this year. 2020 has been the year to challenge my thoughts on what I thought normal would look like for our family and forge ahead with a new normal.
I’m sure every mom in all of America is in this tricky, sticky position I am currently in with deciding what I want my children’s education to look like this year. It very much feels like we’re in between a rock and a hard place.
So I want to preface my advice on how to get started with homeschooling with this:If you choose to send your kids back to school this year, you are a good momu003cbru003eIf you choose to keep your kids at home and remote learn, you are a good momu003cbru003eIf you choose to keep your kids at home and homeschool,… Click To Tweet
We are all moms in an impossible situation just trying to make the best decisions for our kids given our circumstances. Trust your momma gut and do what you feel is best for your family.
Where do I even start with homeschooling
Once Chris and I officially made the decision to keep the kids home and homeschool them I was slapped with the reality of “I don’t even know what I’m doing!” I had no clue where to even begin and all of it seemed super overwhelming.
Reach out to friends/family who homeschool
Chances are you know someone who homeschools their children. Or at the very least you know someone who knows someone. Reaching out to other moms who have travelled this road before you will make the journey so much less lonely.
A seasoned homeschool mom can help walk you the guidelines for your state or county and how she got started in her homeschool journey. The added support system will be invaluable as you start down this road.
I am lucky to have friends who have homeschooled for years and even one friend who has made the transition from public school to homeschool back to public school. You better believe I have utilized those invaluable resources and I’ve been so grateful for the wisdom these women have shared with me.
join local homeschool facebook groups
Go to Facebook and search “homeschool [name of my town or county]” There’s a pretty good chance that there is already a thriving online community set up for homeschoolers in your area. These men and women are a wealth of knowledge and so many of them have been so gracious with their time explaining the ins and outs of how to get started in homeschooling to me.
HSLDA is a fantastic resource to find out what the laws about homeschooling are in your state. They will lead you step-by-step through the logistics of what you need to do to get set up homeschooling and how to be compliant with your state’s laws. For example, does your state require an umbrella school? HSLDA will help guide you through the tricky legalities of homeschooling in your state.
learn your state’s regulations
Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states of the US. You just have to make sure you’re following the proper protocol. Some require notice while other states don’t. Some states require what is known as an umbrella school, while other states don’t. You can find more info about what your state’s requirements are HERE.
Probably one of the most time consuming and daunting parts of the homeschool process for me has been picking curriculum for this year.
I will admit that I got hung up on this step for FAR too long. You can definitely give yourself analysis paralysis and research all of the options to death without ever making an actual decision.
A resource that a fellow homeschool mom sent me early on in my curriculum search is THIS VIDEO that describes the different kinds (or flavors) of homeschooling. It gives you a really great birds eye view of the different teaching/learning styles out there and will give you a good heads up what direction you want to head in.
Deciding on your preferred teaching style and your child’s best learning style is really the best first step in picking a curriculum. I would recommend starting here.
choosing curriculum depends on a lot of factors
- Child’s learning style
- Amount of time parent has to commit to teaching every day
- Whether you want technology involved in your child’s learning or not
- What the family values in an education
- The parent’s preferred teaching style
- Whether you’re trying to stick close to your local public school curriculum
but there are so many options
Once you have roughly decided on the style and type of curriculum resonates most with you then comes the hard part, actually picking the curriculum.
When you fall down the rabbit hole of curriculum it can be super overwhelming. There are SO.MANY.OPTIONS out there. You also may want to do a combination of different styles of learning based on the child or the subject.
One of the best resources I found for weeding through the endless mountain of curricula is Cathy Duffy’s Homeschool Curriculum Review. I love that she breaks the various curricula down into subjects as well as unit studies/all in one studies.
Look through the curricula offered and try to narrow down to the ones you think might work best for your family. But I will warn you not to stay stuck in this process too long. Don’t pay too much attention to what everyone else is doing. Use that momma gut to pick something that you think will work for your family.
The greatest part about homeschooling, I am learning, is the flexibility. If you pick a curriculum and realize a month in that it’s not working for you, you can always switch
Find a rhythm
Homeschool looks different for every family and for every family situation. What works for one family’s schedule won’t necessarily work for another’s.
The beauty of homeschooling is the flexbility. You could do it in the evening, in the morning, on the weekends only, year round. Find a rhythm that works for you and your family.
So far we have found that what works for us is doing school in the morning while the kids are fresh and taking lots of movement breaks and one snack break in between. We usually finish up around lunchtime.
Don’t be afraid to try different times of day or different routines to see what works and sticks for your family.
give lots of grace
Give yourself lots of grace, every single day. You’re new at this. Your kids are new at this. It might totally suck at first. And that’s ok.
You might have to try something one way, fail and then stand back up and try it a different way. You might have to just call a day a wash because of everyone’s sour attitudes.
It’s ok to not be perfect at this first try.
Give grace for the bad days, bad tempers, poor attention spans, and messy workspace.
Our first day of homeschooling was a complete and utter disaster. I texted my friend who is a homeschooler crying about how awfully it went. “I am screwing them up for life!” I texted her as dramatically as I could.
But you know what? We tried again the next day and it got better. We tweaked some stuff and it got better. We learned and tried and grew together, my kids and I, and it got better.
Take it one day at a time. Give grace upon grace upon grace, momma.