So maybe you’ve decided to try homeschooling or maybe you have already been haphazardly homeschooling and have decided to continue but you aren’t sure what to do next. Or maybe you were just browsing and came across this post by accident. No matter what your reason I’m glad you are here and invite you to follow along this little series.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced homeschooler the decision to homeschool or not can be quite overwhelming. I’ve broken it down into a few different sections to help you out. I’ve also shared a few affiliate links to some of our favorite resources.
Go ahead and grab a notebook so that you can jot down some notes as we go through this series. (I may try to make a printable checklist at some point.)
Making the Decision To Homeschool
Making the decision to homeschool can be a big one for some families and it can be quite the change for kids if they have been in public school. More and more families are choosing to homeschool for various reasons like:
- Too much homework and/or tests
- Frustration with the school system/common core curriculum
- Lack of control over schedules
- Physical or mental health problems
- Specials needs
- Safety concerns
Just be prepared that not everyone will share you enthusiasm or agree with your choice. There are still a lot of misconceptions about homeschooling. I am sure that you will come across them as you do your research.Personally this was a great decision for our family but that is not always the case. We have had a lot of support with our decision and I do get a lot of help from time to time from my older children and other family members.
I love having the ability to decide what we will be learning, how we will learn, and when we will be learning it. I also love the fact that we can pray and talk about religion freely in our homeschool. We are also able to adjust our schedules to fit in planned and sometimes spontaneous outings to the zoo, fishing trip, or anywhere that we find interesting. Another great thing is that we can count these outings as school days!
The last year my kids where in public school I was constantly headed to the school because someone was acting up or not feeling well. One of my special needs kids had an aide that was constantly feeding him things he shouldn’t have been eating which was causing some major health concerns. Then there were several bullying issues and head lice infestations. Not too mention that the news was covered in school shootings. Enough was enough when I got an email about one of my girls needing to have a certain score on her state tests so she wouldn’t pull the rest of the class down. Talk about pressure… I mean you can’t force a child to perform over their level on a test. I pulled all of my elementary level kids out that same week and haven’t looked back.
That was five or six years ago and we’ve learned a lot since then. We made a lot of changes to our homeschool routines and the way we homeschool. We’ve had many many successes like my 6 year old recently learned his multiplication table in two weeks by following along with his older sisters. We also had our first homeschool graduate earlier this year… YAY! One down and five more to go.
Before hopping on the homeschool wagon you need to consider a few things like the fact that you will most likely be with your kids 24/7/365. Yep, this sounds like fun at first and I’m sure you have some really great ideas swimming through your head about all of the fun field trips and wonderful arts and crafts you’ll be making. In reality your house may end up looking like a herd of buffalo have trampled through on a daily basis and every surface in your house will be covered with various art projects.
Another is the time it takes to homeschool. There are a lot of programs out there where you can pretty much turn on the computer and put your kids in front of a screen to do most of their learning. For me, I prefer a more hands on approach which may be part of the reason my house is such a wreck when we are schooling. I want to make learning fun, not saying that the computer programs aren’t fun, but I want to keep them interested and I’ve really been trying to cut back on screen time around here.
Then there is all the time you will most likely spend researching how to homeschool, what curriculum to use, and looking for resources like this article you are reading unless you are lucky enough to be surrounded by others with a ton of experience. I’m telling you that I’ve been there and I’ve done it all. I’ve researched and Pinned so many things and thought I found the ‘perfect’ curriculum for the year only to find that it just doesn’t work for one or more of my kids. Now, if you only have one child to teach then it might not be so bad but it can be a lot more difficult when you have multiple children, multiple ages, and multiple grade levels. That’s the beauty of homeschooling though. You can change whenever you need to and you don’t have to use the same curriculum for every child.
All the time spent on homeschooling, researching, and planning takes away from time for other responsibilities like house work. If you have a job it may also be hard to get your schedule right at first. Now please don’t think I’m saying you can’t work and homeschool because there are many people who do. I am only saying that you should expect a learning period. There will be times of chaos and possibly times where you want to give up but push through it. Once you find a schedule that works for you and your family then you will be one step closer to your dream.
On another note homeschooling does not have to be a permanent choice either. It can be, if you decide that is what is right for you and family but there are many people who homeschool for a year or two to help their child ‘catch up’ or just homeschool through a difficult time. There are many children who successfully return to public school after homeschooling for a period of time.
Researching the State Laws
If you’re still reading this then I think its safe to say I haven’t scared you away from the idea yet. Next thing you need to do is to research your state laws regarding homeschooling. You can check out Home School Legal Defense Association for some information or check with your local school board.
It is important to find out what curriculum is acceptable and what testing, if any, is required. In some states you must have your children tested at the end of each year.
If anyone tries to discourage you, and many times they will, you can also contact local homeschooling groups who can point you in the right direction. I’m going to let you know from my experience that I was discouraged from trying to homeschool my special needs children but I knew in my heart that this was the best decision for them.
Setting Your Goals
Ok, so you are set and ready to go. Let’s set some goals for your homeschool. Don’t go overboard but don’t be too broad either. I promise this might seem like a step to skip but this will help you so much when you feel like things aren’t going well or when you need to step back and evaluate what you are doing.
Grab a notebook and write down your main goals for your homeschool. My main goals were:
- To help each child learn on an individual basis according to their own needs.
- To have control over what information my children were exposed to.
- To prevent bullying and other unacceptable behavior from damaging my children.
- To provide a positive learning experience for my children.
- To monitor my children’s diet and habits for a healthy lifestyle.
Yours could be the same or different. Some others have homeschool goals like:
- letting their children and themselves sleep in
- spending more time together
- learning disabilities
It doesn’t matter if they make sense to anyone else as long as they are important to you and your family.
Budgeting the Cost
The cost of homeschooling often deters some people from attempting it. I know it did me at first because I thought all of the good curriculum were the ones that were so expensive. I’ve since learned differently. To begin with you really should set a limit on how much you plan to spend as this will play a big part of deciding the how’s, what’s, where’s, and when’s to come.
Many times you can find free resources online for homeschooling like our favorites Easy Peasy All-In-One-Homeschool and Discovery K12.com. Both of these sites are FREE but do have other options and resources that you can purchase. I also supplement these with a variety of other programs like ABC Mouse, Kids Cook Real Food, KidStir, KiwiCo, and Skill Trek.
You can also check yard sales and online sales for used materials. I love going to the thrift stores and finding used books and curriculum for pennies. Amazon is a great resource for finding cheap books in great condition as well as eBay. Oriental Trading also has some really great deals on resources too especially if you need multiple items of the same product.
You will also be able to watch for those before school sales that pop up at the end of the summer. I stock up as much as I can because we are forever running out of printer paper, pencils, erasers, and glue sticks. We’ll cover homeschool supplies and curriculum in another post though.
If cost is an issue for whatever reason you can also check into scholarships for your homeschoolers. I know here in Florida there are a variety of scholarships based on special needs, low income, and other criteria. This is another area where a local homeschool group could help. You also need to be sure to check your local requirements before purchasing any curriculum to make sure it meets the guidelines.
Check out this post for some our favorite resources.
Accept That You Will Have Failures and Things Will Not Go As Planned
This was probably one of the hardest things for me to accept because I was stuck in ‘public school thinking’. I was determined that everything had to happen on a certain schedule or we were failing. This put a lot of undo stress on myself and was unfair to the kiddos. Each child learns differently and on their own time schedule. That was one of the reasons I chose to homeschool in the first place but I lost sight of that at first.
It took us at least six months to a year before we finally found our groove and everything seemed to be going really well. Then when we started the next year I had added a couple more kids to the routine and we lost our groove. After a few months we found it again. Somewhere along the way this past year we lost it, maybe the fact that we moved had something to do with it? I don’t know but I think most people find their comfortable place a year or so into it. Be patient and relax when you first start out. If something really isn’t working then change it until it does work.
Be sure to spend a bit of time praying over your decision. That has been the most helpful tip that was given to me. When in doubt, I pray. When things aren’t going as well as I think they should, I pray. When I really want to switch something around but I’m too afraid to try, I pray. When my kids are struggling, I pray. After praying I always feel calmer and things just kind of seem to fall in place.
We’ve pretty much covered the why you want to homeschool in this post so in my next couple of posts I’ll try to cover most of the following and maybe a couple more:
- How will you Homeshool?
- Who will you Homeschool?
- Where will you Homeschool?
- When will you Homeschool?
- Researching and Buying Homeschool Supplies
- Setting Up A System for Organizing the Supplies
- Finding a Planner or System for Your Homeschool
In the meantime I do encourage you to do some research and see if this is truly something you want to do and are able to do in your area. You can also check out a couple of these great books on Amazon for more ideas and suggestions:
- The Joyful Homeschooler by Mary Hood, Ph.D.
- Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp
- The Organized Homeschool Life: A Week by Week Guide To Homeschool Sanity by Dr. Melanie Wilson
- Homeschooling 101: A Guide To Getting Started by Erice Arndt
- Academic Homeschooling: How To Give Your Child An Amazing Education At Home by Tracy Chatters
- Homeschool Mom’s Bible: Daily Personal Encouragement
- Simple Organization For Homeschools by Bethany S. LaShell
I have many more books and resources I will be sharing with you all in some future posts. Until then please be sure to like this post and follow along with my blog. If you are an experienced homeschooler and have any tips or other books you’d like to suggest please comment below and I’ll be sure to make a follow up post to include them in.