Saturday, December 1, 2012

Where to Start When You Are Thinking of and Praying About Homeschooling Your Kids

*Edited: I don't know when I'll be able to expand on this post, so I have added my pinterest boards, "Homeschool {For Beginners}" and "Homeschool {Philosophies}" to the bottom of this that you can follow and/or explore to give you more resources in the meantime. I hope you find these helpful!*

Thinking and praying about homeschooling? Excited/anxious, but also feeling completely overwhelmed without a clue of where to start? Deciding to homeschool can be a daunting and overwhelming decision, especially if you don't have much prior experience or outside support.

Here are some things you can do to get started:

1. Get plugged in to the overall homeschool community.
    • Sign up and join The Homeschool Lounge. The Homeschool Lounge is a free, online community where you can chat and interact with other homeschool families. I have only just discovered The Homeschool Lounge, so I don't have a lot of firsthand experience yet, but it has TONS of forums and lots of community help and support. Forum topics that I have seen just today include "Don't know where to begin...;" "How long does your child(ren) schoolwork take them each day?" and "A little overwhelmed." Starting or researching homeschooling can be overwhelming, and sites like The Homeschool Lounge exist to show you that you are not alone, and you don't have to figure everything out on your own. Learn from and  lean on homeschooling veterans who have been there.

2. Find out about local homeschool groups and organizations in your area.
    • Search for homeschool groups in your state at Home-school.com.
    • For more groups, you can also search by state at a similarly named site, homeschool.com.
    • If you are on facebook, search "homeschool Missouri" (or whatever state/area you are in) to see if there are any homeschool groups on facebook. The 2 most active groups I am involved in are facebook groups. The facebook groups offer field trips and other opportunities, including fun days like end-of-the-year parties, park days, and other activities.

3. Find out about homeschool laws in your state.
    • Find out about the laws in your state at HSLDA's website here.
    • Once you hook up with one of the homeschooling groups from steps 1 and 2, you should have a nice group of veteran homeschoolers from whom to ask questions and glean wisdom from regarding further insight into state laws and compliance.
    • Often, there are conventions and classes that you can attend to help you learn more about the homeschooling laws in your state. Ask your homeschooling group about upcoming conventions and classes or check your local library to see if they have any such programs available.

4. Find out what resources are available for free at your local library.
    • If you don't already have a library card, get one. Having one of these babies can open you up to a vast range of free resources beyond just going in and borrowing books. The network of library branches in my state, for example, offer homeschool groups, classes, book clubs, and "family story times" in which all ages are welcome.
    • Once you find out about what is available in the library, don't forget to check out all the online benefits of library membership. Mine offers tons of online resources, including research databases, online learning courses, educational and teaching resources, and even online homework and tutoring help. All for free!

5. Read some good beginner books on homeschooling.

6. Read a homeschooling magazine or two. 
    • Practical Homeschooling and Home Education Magazine are both good ones. I just borrowed 3 issues (total) from my library just today. Current issues of magazines are not available for checkout. However, it is (another!) little known fact that if you lift up the rack of current magazines, there are back issues resting underneath. These back issues, at least at my library, are available for checkout. If you prefer to have the latest issues mailed to your door, you can always subscribe, but I personally prefer to just borrow them from the library for free. These magazines may even have free online versions available if you prefer to do your reading electronically.

7. Decide on some homeschool "values" or "goals."
    • Create a list of reasons describing why you want to homeschool and what benefits you hope to gain from it. Unless you find yourself in a homeschooling emergency (i.e., you pulled your kids out of public school this morning and need a curriculum yesterday), this should be done before you start researching curriculum. Most curriculum out there is going to have people who love it and people who don't, and the company itself will try to convince you it's the best choice. Knowing what benefits you value most and narrowing down your homeschooling goals will help you decide if a particular curriculum lines up with those goals and values important to you. It will also help you down the line, when evaluating whether or not a particular curriculum is helping you achieve your homeschooling goals.
    • I will be posting a more detailed "how to" on this at some point, and will be sure to link to it here once it's been posted.

8. Research what kind of teaching philosophy you want to use.
    • Step 7 will help you with this, but because there are so many different philosophies, I will be doing a separate post on researching these and will link to it here once it's done.

9. Attend a homeschool convention or seminar.
  • Ask members of your homeschool community (from steps 1 and 2 above) when or how to find out about upcoming conventions in your area. 
  • Unless you are going to ignore the curriculum fair that is part of most homeschool conventions and only attend the informational class sessions, I don't recommend going to a convention until you have done steps 7 and 8. (Going to 40+ booths with different curriculum, most of which you've never heard of, can be absolutely overwhelming if you haven't established any goals or frame of reference from which to evaluate. More feelings of being overwhelmed is not what we're going for here!)

10. Once you are confident in your decision to homeschool and have a feel for your teaching philosophy, start researching what curriculum you would like to use. 
    • When researching various curriculum, ask yourself:
      • Does this line up with my values (i.e. step 7)?
      • Does this utilize the teaching philosophy that I most agree with (step 8)?
    • I will also be doing a separate post on curriculum choice, and again will link to it here once it's ready.

11. Find out the best places to get curriculum.
    • Again, I will be doing a separate post on this and linking to it.

While not all of these steps are necessary for every person, I hope that this gives you a starting point, or a "how-to" of sorts. Feel free to comment with any questions you might have, or you can even e-mail me using the "Contact me" button on the right panel of this blog. I will do my best to answer whatever questions you might have, and, who knows, I may even turn into a post!

{Full Disclosure: This post DOES contain Amazon affiliate links.}

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  1. Great post! :) Lauren, lholmes79.wordpress.com

    1. Thanks, Lauren! I hope people find it useful. Homeschooling is so rewarding!