When I started walking down the research road to homeschooling (as I was deciding on whether or not to school) I researched the web and products, met with other HS moms and planned like crazy in order to make our experience a successful homeschool year. I thought I had considered many things as I prepared to walk down the road of homeschooling. But as in all things, it’s the actual walking that teaches you the most about the new adventure. If you’re thinking to homeschool I’d like to share a few things with you before you begin… and be sure to meet with mom’s (or dad’s) who are experienced. They’ll help you cast a vision for homeschooling your own little ones as well as help you understand what you’re about to embark on with your children.
- Know why you’re homeschooling. Write it down and share it with your kids. There will be days ( or weeks) that may be hard and you’ll want to remind yourself of your goals/hopes for hs.
- One curricula isn’t likely to meet all your needs perfectly. It’s okay to piece meal your curricula from several different publishers. I chose to do SonLight for everything but Math. After a few weeks/months I tossed the science out (for Apologia), tossed the grammar (for Rod and Staff), I added Handwriting With Out Tears, tossed parts of the LA for writers workshop and readers workshop. Basically I kept the History, Phonics and Vocabulary, Readers, and Read Alouds.
- Decide on your budget. You can spend loads of dough or you can be creative on a minimal budget. You can buy used curricula (vegsource). You can also go to a teacher store and buy your own selection of curriculum to fit your needs and your child’s.
- A schedule is important to establish consistency and direction. But schedules should be flexible; my schedule has an order but not a time frame. I found that I work best with a 4 day routine and the 5th day is super flexible with our “specials” (art, library, music, cooking, real life learning, field trips). I also found that we operate best with a one week rotating schedule. Week one incorporates a large portion of independent learning for the girls and I jump in for science and history. Week two is intensive and dependent to educational goals. You can click here to open our schedule: HOMESCHOOL SCHEDULE
- Your day will change as you adjust and settle in to a routine. (i.e. I chose different curriculum, changed to a rotating schedule etc.). So start off with a few subjects or objectives and gradually add on until you’ve incorporated all your schooling subjects into a full day
- Everyone who HS does it differently. What works for you may not work for them and vice versa. Many of my friends start at 8 and end at lunch. We never ever have ended before lunch. ever. — It used to make me crazy and I thought I was doing something wrong because we were still schooling well into the afternoon. Let go of those thoughts that your school will look like someone elses.
- HS is not institutionalized school. Don’t try to make it look like it is… that’s the beauty of homeschooling 🙂
- Learn about the co-ops and groups in your area. Many organizations cater to homeschools (museums, gardens, Park and Rec., private schools often do a la carte classes, churches offer classes for both mom and student). There are umbrella schools and legal groups (HSLDA are legal advocates) that have a low cost and offer services to help you achieve success in schooling.
- Decide how much you want to be involved in outside groups. I chose to not do co-ops or any kind of umbrella school for my first year. I wanted to get my feet wet and adjust to this new world of homeschooling. It was (is) the best decision for us but everyone is different. Co-ops require you to teach a class on a rotating basis and you often still pay to be a part of the group. And like I mentioned before, I needed to figure things out for my first and third grader a bit before I committed to teaching a large classroom of students.
- Know your state requirements. Set up a binder or filing system for yourself and your records, lesson plans, etc. Also prepare a binder/filing system for your child(ren)’s work so you can collect a portfolio of learning.
- Decide your philosophy of education. from edulink.org:
- the purpose of education
- the role of the student in education
- the role of the teacher in education
- the role of the teacher in the community
You may wish to approach the development of your philosophy by considering the following
Why do you want to Teach?
- What is the purpose of education?
- What is your role as an educator?
Whom are you going to Teach?
- Specifically, how will you reach the wide diversity of children that you will have in your classroom?
- How do you define your community of learners?
How and What are going to Teach?
- What are your beliefs about how children learn?
- How will these beliefs impact your teaching?
- How do you balance the needs of individual learners with the needs of the entire class?
- What are your goals for your students?
- classroom management
- instructional strategies
- curriculum design
- Invest in a copier/printer. This will save you a lot of money in the end!
- Include Physical Education and Recess. Our childhood obesity rates are crazy!
- Provide opportunities for your child(ren) to socialize with others (church, co-op, sports, music lessons)
- Carve out some time for yourself. You’re going to be changing your life as you take on this responsibility. Be sure to have some time to refresh yourself (coffee with a friend, mani/pedi, join a gym, etc.)
Please feel free to add your tips in my comments section!