Today is August 1st.
Around our state that means the public school kids are either starting school later this week, or they started late last week. A few schools are probably still holding out for a mid-August start date, but for the majority of school aged children, their summer vacation is over.
The beginning of a new school year can be stressful. I have often been asked during the first week or two of school about how difficult it is to withdraw a student from a public or private school and start homeschooling. If you're wondering this yourself. . . let me assure you the process of beginning to homeschool isn't as hard as you think. Where the trials come in is in the continuing to homeschool.
Let me see if I can explain...
Where to begin with homeschooling?
For most states, to begin educating your children at home (when they were previously enrolled in public school,) you will need to print off a form for transferring your student to a new school, and request that their records be sent to your home address. If you need help with this, do a web search for your state's homeschool association, or just click over to HSLDA.org and start learning about your particular state's requirements. DO NOT just keep your kids at home without filling out the transfer paperwork, or you can expect a visit from your local truancy officer ~ not the best way to begin your homeschooling journey.
If your children have never been enrolled in a public or private school, you still need to check and see if your state has other requirements. Some states require you to register your intent to homeschool, some require a review of your curriculum choices, and some have annual standardized testing or portfolio review requirements. It is always best to know what to you will need to provide to the state (or local school superintendent,) before you begin.
Now, if you're still here reading ~ let's get to the good part shall we?!
Their are many methods you can choose from to begin homeschooling, and many things you'll want to start reading up on about learning styles and teaching styles. But before you get overwhelmed, stop and write down your WHYs for choosing to educate your children at home. Are you concerned they were falling behind in a large group setting, do they have specific learning challenges that would be better addressed one on one at home, are you concerned about the environment they were in at school, or the way the other students behaved. . .or mis-behaved? Do you want to be able to freely teach about your religious beliefs, still have time for art or music class, or hope to double up on classes and graduate your book-smart child early? Whatever your reasons, you need to have them written down in a place where you can go back and look at them and pray over them again and again so you'll be grounded for when times get rough.
What do you really need to homeschool?
I'm going to talk from our experience, which has been choosing to homeschool from day one in what is considered a "homeschool friendly" state. You need a Bible, a library card, and a few basic school supplies. You'll also need a lot of time ~ to read together, draw pictures, and be willing to learn alongside your children. Too many Moms and Dads are afraid to educate their children at home because they weren't exceptional students themselves. Let's think about that for a moment shall we? Are you really willing to send your children off to a school system that you feel failed at educating you? I didn't think so. So lets talk about a few things you can do to get started today, and then later this week and next week I'll share more ideas on how you might want to proceed along your journey.
What can I do today to begin homeschooling?
Choose a book to read to your children. Whether they are 5 or 15, children still like to be read to. While your 15 year old might want to draw a picture while you read and your 5 year old may want to sit on your lap, they are both learning.
Make a meal together. Whether it is PBJ or Beef Stroganoff, what you make together in the kitchen is definitely a great option for beginning your homeschool journey.
Get a library card. If you don't already have a library card, find out what is required to get one. Even if you need to pay the non-resident annual fee to get one for the family to share ~ go get a library card! It is a huge investment in your children's future. Then let each child (from 3 to 18) help in choosing the books to have for your first week. You can get to math next week, find some good books to start with!
Go shopping for school supplies. You really only need some paper, colored pencils and crayons, regular pencils and notebook paper, a few folders or a three ring binder, some glue and a decent pair of scissors. You might also want to throw in a pencil sharpener if you don't already own one. Later this week I'll give a more detailed list of suggested supplies, but for now, just get some of the basics while they're at rock-bottom back-to-school prices. If you only have $5, then only spend $5.
Go on a Field Trip. The beginning of the year is a great time to choose to take a field trip! Most schools won't begin their field trips until September, so it is possible you might have the zoo, park, museum, or beach mostly to yourselves.
Pray with your spouse, and with your children. This is a new adventure you're beginning, start it at the feet of Jesus and ask Him for His guidance.
What about record keeping, curriculum, planning out our year, and managing everything else in the home?Those are all valid questions, and I hope to give you a little encouragement about each one during the next week and a half. Next week I'll be joining the Schoolhouse Review Crew's 5 Days of Homeschool 101 Blog Hop where several of us will share about various aspects of those topics.
For now, simply get a notebook and jot down what you did with each child each day.
M: read "Winnie the Pooh" and played Legos with Jimmy
T: worked on writing the letters of his name
W: counted the marshmallows in Jimmy's bowl of Lucky Charms.
You say your High School no longer eats Lucky Charms? Bummer!
How about this:
M: read and discussed 3 news stories about the election with Brittney
T: worked on Algebra 1 introduction on Kahn Academy
W: started reading Great Expectations out loud after lunch.
This is not rocket science ~ don't make it any harder than it needs to be! :)
Don't start too much too soon!
In your excitement to begin home educating your children, don't try to begin everything at once! Whether this is the first introduction to book work for your kindergartener, or a first at home experience for your middle schooler, start slowly and add something new each day or two. You don't need to be doing seven subjects every day right out of the gate. In fact, you may decide that your homeschool would run better by only doing three subjects at a time, but working on them for longer each day so you could finish a year's worth in only a semester.
If you are a working Mama who is considering homeschooling, take a peek at our series of Working and Homeschooling posts. Just click on the label: Working and Homeschooling at the bottom of this post and it will take you to the articles. (Sorry they'll come up in reverse order, I haven't had time to give them their own page yet... you know, I've been working, and homeschooling-LOL!)
I know it is a lot to take in all at once when you are beginning to homeschool. Take it step by step, and be willing to admit when you need to change up something that isn't working well for your child (or you!) God gave you these precious children for a reason ~ go speak some truth into their lives, and lean on God to direct you!
Know that you are loved!