We’re going to be writing a series on homeschooling, and in part one we will cover ‘How to get started with homeschooling with Q & A’
You’ve made your decision and don’t know where to turn from there, so we’ve made this guide to help you along your way to homeschooling success.
1. Laws and Requirements
This is an extremely important step and you can’t proceed with anything until you’ve checked out the laws and requirements in your area. Remember they differ from country to country, state to state, so you really have to make sure that you understand what’s required of you to start this exciting journey.
Some will require you to formally withdraw your kids from mainstream schools, others will make you register as a private school (even though you’re just the teacher!) and more. If you don’t follow the laws and requirements you could be in some serious trouble. If you don’t understand the laws then get in touch with the relevant department and make sure you understand exactly what needs to be done.
2. Make a Plan
The next thing you will need to do is to make a plan as to how you want your kids to be homeschooled. One of the best parts of homeschooling your kids is that you get to decide what and how your kids will be taught and that requires some planning.
One thing you might need to consider is to possibly deschool your children for a while, that gives them a break from the stresses of school for a while, before you go charging head in with homeschooling. It gives them a break from anything ‘schooly’ and gives children the time and space to explore their own interests, and settle into a less structured lifestyle.
When you have been involved in the school system it is all too easy to measure everything by school standards. To think only in terms of curriculum subjects, grade levels and exams. Or to think that learning can only take place between certain hours, while sitting at a desk. In fact, learning can happen in lots of different ways, in a huge variety of subjects.
Just relaxing and enjoying being with your children can really help you to see things in a different light and will get you ready for the challenges ahead.
The next major step you need to take is finding a curriculum that suits you. There are so many available that you will have to weigh up all your options and decide which curriculum suits you and your family best. Do your research. Look online and look for reviews of the different curricula that are available so that you can make an informed decision. Once you’ve found the right curriculum for you, you will need to purchase it and then you’re almost ready to start…but not quite yet.
Remember you’re going to be spending a lot of time with your kids now, so you may want to brush up on your patience skills!
As part of making a plan, you will need to think about what your homeschooling goals are. You’ll need to think about big picture goals and small picture goals.
Big Picture Goals
Some ideas for big picture goals are as follows:
· Does your child need to be well educated and what does that mean to you?
· Which other skills would they need to have?
· Do you want them to be happy and feel like part of your community?
· Do you want them to foster a passion for learning?
· To guide the development of skills such as discipline, persistence, responsibility.
· To expose them to a broad span of curricular areas and build solid foundations in each, based on work that is meaningful and productive to the child.
· To help them pursue their interests and passions to their satisfaction.
· To help them improve social skills and build relationships with others, which are meaningful and fulfilling to them.
· To enhance their love of books, reading, and stories.
· To build upon other areas of pleasure such as mathematical concepts and game strategy.
· To continue to teach ethical and moral analysis and behaviour.
· To foster acceptance and flexibility in dealing with a diverse range of people.
· To enhance their own sense of themselves as unique and valuable individuals.
They will also need to gain the following skills:
· Do maths and use a calculator
· Be able to express themselves
· Have the ability and skills to learn new things
· Have the ability to research and summarise new information
· Give a presentation
· Be able to put together a well-written document
Small Picture Goals
When you have determined the big picture, you can then begin to break up your homeschooling goals into smaller manageable pieces that you can do on a day-to-day basis.
For example, if you feel it is essential that they develop reasoning skills then you can begin to look for games, books and puzzles that will help them develop these. Detective stories, Rubik’s cubes and Cluedo may be some of the resources that you can begin to introduce. And of course, doing science experiments, such as a water experiments every day for a month.
Being able to express themselves? Hold debates about different subjects. Introduce them to English from the roots up to build up vocabulary.
Need the ability to learn new things? Introduce them to mind maps and mnemonics.
Homeschooling goals are about helping your child develop into a well-rounded person.
And once you are clear about what that means to you, you can be clear about the resources and methods you need to follow through.
Making a Homeschooling Schedule
Homeschooling can be daunting when you’re just starting out, so one of the things you should do is create a schedule. Even if it’s very loose it will give you some structure to your day, so you know what you’re doing.
A great homeschooling schedule only works if it works for YOU as a family. There are no rights and wrongs here, but just some ideas. Once you know your goals and what curriculum you’re studying and the subjects you’re taking you can build your schedule around this.
· Consider your family. Are you really going to be able to structure their time? Schedules just do not work with some homeschooling families!
· Don’t stress it. It’s not going to be written in stone! If your home school schedule is intimidating you, bin it and start again.
· Be flexible. Things change and homeschooling isn’t an exact science. If things aren’t working according to the schedule – change the schedule.
· Keep it fresh. Doing the same thing day in day out will get boring for everyone. Try changing your schedule once in a while – or throw something new into the mix.
· If you are going to carve out some time in the day then it is best to ring-fence that time. Don’t make appointments during that time. Don’t answer the phone, and don’t allow pop-in visitors. It may take a little time but be firm – everyone will get used to it.
What type of Schedule do you need?
· Some laws require that you have to keep a schedule so consider this once you’ve found out all the rules and regulations.
· Decide on how many days per week you’re going to work and for how many hours each day. Again, this could be a legal requirement, so make sure you know exactly what’s going on.
· Decide on which subjects need to be covered daily and which might only need to be covered once a week, this can guide your schedule.
· You can literally create a schedule in a Word document and print it off, so you know what subjects you’re going to be studying at what times and on what days. You can also show where break times are.
All of these steps might seem daunting at first, but just take it one step at a time.
3. Connect to a Homeschooling Group
A great form of support and inspiration will be joining a homeschooling group in your area, if you have one. If not, go online and join forums where you can ask questions and get some support when you need it most. Also get the kids involved in extra-curricular activities to make sure that they’re socialising as well.
4. Setting up your Homeschool
You have to remember that the world really is your learning playground when you homeschool. You aren’t bound by desks and textbooks and sitting down for 5 hours concentrating on those. Yes you should have an area that is set out for learning with some basic supplies and lots of manipulative toys, even include Lego, board games, puzzles, learning toys, decks of cards and anything else you can think of…even a Rubik’s cube will do the job of getting kids to learn. You want to make it exciting for them.
The outdoors is also an ideal learning space where geography can come to life and don’t be surprised, but video games can also be learning tools…a lot of them are based around history and some kids read books and do internet research on what they’ve learnt from video games and can put us adults to shame with their knowledge. Use whatever resources you have available to you in order to make it work.
5. Homeschooling FAQs
Just as a final point in this part of our homeschooling set of articles, we’ve pulled together a few FAQs that you might have lurking on your mind. Let us know if you have any others.
Do I have to be a Teacher?
In most countries, legally no, in fact in some countries you don’t even need a high school diploma, but check out the laws specific to your area.
Do I need a Classroom?
If you don’t want a classroom type of environment then you don’t have to have one. As long as there is somewhere where your child can sit and write and concentrate then that should be fine. You get to decide.
Is Homeschooling Expensive?
Some of the curriculums can be expensive, yes. A packaged homeschool curriculum can cost quite a bit of money, but you have to remember that you won’t be buying school uniforms and everything else that goes with attending a mainstream school. You could even come across second-hand curriculums that people are selling.
How do I socialise my homeschooled child?
People often believe that homeschooled children are not socialised, however, if you put in a little effort you can attend homeschooling groups with your kids and also involve them in extra-curricular activities like sports groups to get the socialisation they need.
How can you tell if they’re learning?
There’s no specific formula here, but keep going, and you’ll be amazed as they sprout forth with information that you didn’t even know yourself. They’ll be taking it in, even if you think they aren’t.
How do you find the resources you need?
Online is going to be your best bet, but you can also ask other homeschooling moms where they got their resources from.
What subjects should I cover?
In some countries and states there are certain legal requirements with regards to subjects, but if there aren’t start with what your child is interested in and go from there.
What if I don’t know the answer?
This will happen so prepare yourself. If you don’t know the answer then learn alongside your child…this can be a great learning experience for you too. Teach them some good researching skills and say “let’s learn together!”
There is no doubt about the fact that starting off with homeschooling can be daunting at first, but once you have gone through all of these initial steps to get yourself on the road to homeschooling, you’ll be ready to start. As your child may have been in a mainstream school for a while, you might have to deschool for a short period of time to help them to adjust.