Many families are turning to homeschooling for the first time this year but have no clue where to start. With this being our second year homeschooling, the newness of it all is still very fresh for us but we have learned a lot in that short time. I want to share some of what we have learned, beginning at the start of it all with my first few steps in our journey.
Step 1: Know your state’s laws.
Before really diving in, you must know what the laws are in your state for homeschooling. Some states are very relaxed and others are very strict. There are states that require standardized testing and others that have options for homeschooling associations to keep track of your student’s progress.
Many states have differing options that fit many different types of homeschoolers. Choosing the best option for you and your student while making sure to adhere to the law is important. For a state by state guide to homeschooling laws go to: hslda.org/legal .
Step 2: Get to know your child’s learning type.
Is your child very active and likes to touch everything that is near them? Does your child like written instructions for a task? Maybe your child needs to hear to understand what they need to be doing?
Learning how your child learns best is one of the most important things, in my opinion, when beginning this journey. You don’t want to start a curriculum full of read aloud books and find out that your child is a visual learner who needs to SEE those words or have pictures to look at.
I’m not saying don’t read aloud to your non-auditory learners; reading aloud is my favorite thing to do with my kids. My kinesthetic learner has to have his hands busy, my visual learner needs to have pictures or videos to watch on the topic, while my auditory learner just wants some quiet space to listen to me. These adaptations for each child do take some more effort but it is well worth it and I’m glad I know their learning styles!
I loved this 3 part approach posted on WikiHow’s page: https://www.wikihow.com/Determine-Your-Child%27s-Learning-Style
Step 3: Research your options.
Now that you know the laws for your state and how your child learns best, you can further decide what schooling at home option is best for your family.
While some parents like the route of virtual learning through the public school system (important to note that this does not fall into the homeschooling laws), other parents may choose to do an unschooling approach. Many families fall somewhere between these two options, using a curriculum developed by another person or company but still having some freedoms with time, resources, etc. There is an overwhelming amount of information and curriculums out there and it can be difficult to sort through. This is why it is important to think about how your child learns best and find
something (or multiple things) that work best for your family. I will be detailing various types over the coming weeks, so be sure to check back here!
Step 4: Find your community.
You know that saying, “It take a village to raise a child?” Well, it takes a community to educate one.
There is a plethora of other homeschooling families, especially in the current uncertainties of the country’s schooling system. Finding them through social media, homeschool coops or associations, or just by word of mouth is well worth the effort. If you’re having difficulty finding another family close by, ask a local librarian, many of us are at the library quite often. Just be persistent in finding other homeschoolers, having even one other family to walk alongside in this journey can be very helpful.
One of my most valuable resources was actually YouTube. I started finding homeschooling resources and families that have shared their journeys through vlogs. This ended up connecting me to a great deal of homeschooling families doing all sorts of curriculums with various aged kids.
Step 5: Do a trial run.
So you’ve done a ton of research. You’ve watched your child closely to find out their learning style. You’re decided on what things will be best for their learning type and your family. And you’ve found a great community to help support and guide you during this journey.
NOW STOP. Before you fully commit to any one particular thing, do a trial run. Many curriculums have free resources to test out their products, including some online education options. Take advantage of these free resources to get an even better feel for how you and your child will do with this journey.
Don’t have super high expectations of a perfectly well behaved child sitting at a table all day doing worksheets with you but do take some time to recognize what definitely won’t work for you. For example: I learned early on that we cannot do anything until all the kids have eaten breakfast and I have had my coffee.
Your homeschooling may ebb and flow with differing life events through the year so know that once you decide on one way, it is okay to change it later. Being in tune to your children’s needs and desires as well as your own is a perk of homeschooling!
It’s a lot of information but there really is a lot of resources out there to help guide you, thanks for letting me be part of that guidance!