So, you want to homeschool, but where do you start?
(Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert. I can just share tips from my own personal experience)
The answer to this question can vary greatly between people. But I recommend the very first thing you do is learn the homeschool laws in your state. Some states have very relaxed laws. Others are a little more strict. In any case, knowing the laws for your state is a great way to start building the foundation for your homeschool. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is fantastic. It is a non-profit organization that was created to defend the constitutional rights of homeschoolers. Here you can search for your state’s laws.
Another good start is to find someone you know, maybe a family member, friend or someone at your church, who homeschools their children. I learned so much from the 3 people I spoke with about homeschooling. Each person had a very different perspective on it so it really helped me see homeschooling from different angles. I just recently found my notes I took when speaking to one veteran homeschooler. There was such a wealth of information I learned from her, and I am so thankful to have had that opportunity to speak with her. One big point to remember, when speaking with veteran homeschoolers, is that the best curriculum or co-op that they just couldn’t live without may not work at all for you. That’s one of the joys and hardships when it comes to homeschooling. It’s so individualized to your family, and sometimes, to your individual children.
I really enjoyed reading Homeschooling 101: A guide to getting started by Erica from Confessions of a Homeschooler. It’s a very easy read. She also has a lot of information available on her blog and Youtube channel. There are also many books that have been recommended to me, that I have not had a chance to read yet. Once I do, I’ll let you know how they are. I learned a lot from online blogs, podcasts, and Youtube channels. Here is a small list of some of the websites I have personally used to learn more about homeschooling.
Also, don’t underestimate the power of social media. Search on Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Homeschooling is really booming right now.
Homeschooling has changed drastically since the 90s. I hear many people joke about barely ever homeschooling in their home. They’re always on the go with different activities, trips, experiences, and co-ops. Check your area for co-ops. They can be very different from one another. But basically, they are classes, activities, field trips and/or sports that homeschoolers can do together. The co-op (ours is called a community) we are joining actually gives families the option to sit in on a community day to see what it’s like.
That can be a scary word. It’s a scary word for me! There is just so much out there. Individual subjects, box curriculum, online curriculum, religious based, and secular. Cathy Duffy has been reviewing curriculum for decades. Her reviews are non-biased and can be very helpful when you’re torn between a few different choices. You can find her reviews here.
You also don’t need to buy everything brand new. Check to see if there is a local homeschool book swap on Facebook. Homeschool Classifieds is also another place where you can find used curriculum. Many of the local homeschool co-ops in my area have annual curriculum/book drives as well.
After you are slightly more familiar with homeschooling, you can learn about the different types of homeschooling. I won’t go into detail in this post about that (I’ll save it for another day). But once you figure that out, your choices for curriculum may change a bit. You’ll use different materials for a “traditional homeschool” than you would for a “classical” or “Charlotte Mason” type of homeschool.
What is your ‘why’?
Why are you homeschooling? What is it that is driving you? Write it down, and put it somewhere you will see it often. If you are having a stressful day, or having (the very normal) fears that you might not be doing everything right, look at your reason. Remind yourself why you are doing this very hard but extremely rewarding thing for your family. One of the hardest parts about homeschooling, is making the decision to do it. Especially if homeschooling was never on your radar.
I hope this very basic, general list can help you figure out how to get started on this wonderful journey!