There are many benefits for the home schooled child and newcomers often want to know how to start homeschooling and why.
First, their class size is only as big as the number of siblings they have being home schooled with them. They get more one on one attention from their teacher. Second, their teacher is someone who knows how they best learn and has their best interest in mind. Third, homeschooling has the potential to be more fun and engaging than a public school setting. One of the hardest parts of homeschooling, however, may be knowing how to get started.
The Legal Stuff
Home school laws vary from country to country and, in the United States, from state to state. To home school, you need to know what the local law requires of you and your child. Some states require a certain number of college credits from the parent(s) who will be teaching them. Others only require a high school diploma. Most will require that you go to your school district and declare your intent to home school, a curriculum and yearly testing of your child, and some states have virtually no requirements at all.
Time and cost involved
Home schooling is worth it for both you and your child. It does, however, take some effort from both of you. It’s important to know that there are no two families who homeschool in exactly the same way. Some parents set up an actual classroom in the home, many homeschooled kids work at the kitchen table or sprawled out on the couch. Parents who work late hours prefer that their kids do some schooling in the evening or into the night, so they will be there to help, and then there are the early bird homeschoolers who are up at dawn, working furiously on their schoolwork, so they can play all afternoon!
There is no single, best way to homeschool, but depending on your style, circumstances and the ages and abilities of your kids you may want to:
- have some type of organized schedule for schoolwork, activities, playdates, etc.
- set aside time to create and go over lesson plans or use ready-made plans that come with many types of curricula and on websites.
- set measurable goals for your child’s progress.
- set a school schedule. It can be flexible, but the time for education should be clearly marked out.
Homeschooling will also have a cost, but it doesn’t need to be expensive. You will need basic school supplies and materials for every day class, such as pencils and paper or a dry erase set. You will need art supplies if you plan to teach your children about art. If you plan to take your children on field trips or sign them up for extracurricular lessons, you’ll need to have money set aside for that.
There are plenty of free materials available online, though. Khan Academy offers online, video lessons beginning with kindergarten through high school. Note that Khan Academy is aligned with Common Core, which you may or may not want. Ambleside Online is an excellent free curriculum that only requires you to obtain the books used in reading assignments, and many of those are either free or extremely inexpensive.
Identify Your Child’s Learning Style
No one know how your child learns better than you. As a homeschooling parent/ teacher you will be able to cater to your child’s learning style. If your child has more of hands on learning style, you can teach geometry by digging a hole in your back yard to certain specifications. If they are having trouble with their fractions you can have a cooking class and let them work the measuring cups while explaining their size relation to each other. Keeping your child’s learning style in mind can help you plan a creative curriculum around them, one that suits them best and will provide real, successful learning.
Where To Find Curriculum
Home school curriculum used to very expensive, even when buying your books used. With the joy that is the internet that is no longer true. In fact many curriculum can be found online for free. Some are religious and others are not. Some even have a list of materials you will need to buy as well as downloadable material. Here are a few of my favorites.
Ambleside Online — Used by The Survival Mom.
Free Homeschooling Stuff Online
In addition to the full curriculum you can find online, there are also plenty of extras that you can find and integrate into your lesson plans. For example, you may have chosen a curriculum with a great focus on core classes, but nothing on the subjects of art or music. You can go online and find plenty of craft ideas and coloring pages. YouTube is full of classical musical performances for virtually every composer. You can find many different types of songs to help your child’s memory recall of lessons they may be struggling with. If you want to supplement your homeschooling experience try some of these websites.
Home Schooling Groups
There are groups available to help with homeschooling and offer support. Homeschool Legal Defense Association has a directory of the groups in your the United States by state and county. There are groups that offer extra classes, 4H groups, or sports teams. You could also start your own group should you feel so inclined. You could offer to teach a subject you are strong in, such as science or literature, while another parent may teach math.
Field trips and getting outside!
Home schooling doesn’t mean hunkering down at home with your children and a bunch of books (although if that’s what you want, I’m sure you could). It also means that there can be more field trips. Go to national parks for classes in biology. Visit a rock climbing studio for physical education. Visit museums, beaches, art galleries, aquariums and zoos. Many local attractions are either free or very inexpensive. It allows your classes to be creative and gives your child a chance to see the education given to them has real world application.
There is an astonishing number of activities geared to homeschoolers and some museums, science centers, and the like even offer daytime classes, specifically for them.
You may want your child to have the experience of being home schooled but are uncertain about getting started. You may doubt if you have the time or the knowledge to make curriculum choices or doubt your teaching abilities. That’s okay. There is an option for those that fall into this category but would still like to have their child be educated in their own home. Consider an online public school. Your child will be able to connect to a teacher online and they will plan the curriculum. Your job will be to keep your child on track with their lesson plan and introduce supplement activities or outings as you see fit.
K12 online school — Lisa’s note: I DO NOT recommend this program. When I contacted them via online chat, I was steered toward the “tuition-free” option. I asked where the funding came from and the agent admitted that they are paid for each student enrolled in the public school option, which is Common Core aligned. Other than the child being at home, there is virtually no advantage to this program.
The agent told me that their private programs are different because they don’t have to follow the curriculum of states. When I asked where I could find the funding information on the K12 site, my online chat was suddenly disconnected.
The downside to online public school is that all curriculum choices will be out of your hands, as will assignments and accountability. Most homeschoolers enjoy shorter school days but online public schools may require a minimum number of “seat” hours per day. As well, it will almost surely be aligned with Common Core — a controversial curriculum, at best.
- Homeschool Legal Defense Association — This group is Christian but will defend all homeschoolers against illegal harassment regardless of their faith.
- Information about learning styles
- Learn about your state’s homeschooling laws at the HSLDA website
- Homeschooling advice from The Survival Mom — A collection of articles that have appeared on this blog.
- Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto — A classic, written by an award winning public school teacher.
- The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child by Linda Dobson
- So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling by Lisa Whelchel
- Teach Your Own by John Holt — A classic written by a pioneering homeschool dad.
- The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
- The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas by Linda Dobson