Are you deciding whether to homeschool for the first time? Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry — homeschooling is easier than you think, and the experience can be a fun and fulfilling adventure! We’ll take it one step at a time.
Once you’ve made the decision to homeschool, you may feel a bit overwhelmed just contemplating the entire undertaking. You may wonder: How do I take my child out of school? What do I teach? What about textbooks? What about friends? What will homeschooling really look like? Yikes!
Read on for five essential tips that will help you get comfortable with homeschooling in no time.
5 Tips to Homeschool Your Child
Tip 1: Find out what your state’s homeschooling laws are.
As with other areas of school choice, laws and requirements differ from community to community, so you need to understand what is required to homeschool in your state. You can find guidance on your state’s department of education website, or visit the U. S. Department of Education, State Contacts page to learn contact information for your area.
Sometimes, regulations can be confusing, but A2Z Home’s Cool has a state-by-state guide that can help clarify the homeschooling laws for your community.
Tip 2: Learn about withdrawing your child from school.
Call your child’s school, school board, or district office to learn how to withdraw your child from school officially. You can also find information and required forms on your state’s department of education website. It’s helpful to prepare the necessary documentation ahead of time, and then set it aside until you’re ready to take this step.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to know the length of time your state allows between officially withdrawing your child from school and legally registering her as a homeschooler. This may or may not be an issue in your area — some states have no registration requirements — but it’s important to know if yours does, and what the timeline is. If you withdraw her before you’ve registered her (assuming it applies in your district), it can affect your child’s school attendance record and possibly trigger a truancy query.
Tip 3: Find local and state homeschooling support groups.
Some homeschooling groups are organized according to a specific educational philosophy or religious affiliation, while others may be inclusive secular groups open to any homeschooler in a particular geographical area. With Facebook’s reach, many homeschooling support groups will create their own pages, and you can send a friend request to ask to join.
In addition, there are groups that have their own websites, so an Internet search may yield resources in your area. You can also visit Homeschool World to see current listings of homeschooling support groups and associations by state.
Homeschooling groups can be extremely helpful when you have specific questions about getting started. Once you’re underway, these groups can be a resource for field trips, park days, and homeschooling co-op classes. Websites such as VegSource have message boards for all different types of homeschoolers, so you can connect with other families who share your reasons for choosing this educational path.
Tip 4: Practice deschooling.
What is deschooling? Well, similar to a detoxification, it’s a period of time when you allow your child to let go of the traditional school mindset. It is a critical step that many anxious, first-time homeschoolers skip after they have withdrawn their children from school. It’s tempting to jump right back into your child’s education without missing a beat, but many seasoned homeschoolers will tell you that this is a necessary transition to prepare for learning outside of a traditional classroom.
While your child is deschooling, relax and enjoy the time with her to help ease out of your former routine. Go to museums, plan and prepare meals together, go to the movie theater, hike, bike, and do all of those arts and crafts projects you have been wanting to try. If you start to feel anxious about not “doing school,” spend a day carrying out science experiments, go to the library, or watch documentaries.
The amount of time children need to deschool varies, but whatever it is, use this period for investigating the many homeschooling philosophies, curricula, and opportunities that are now available. And involve your child in the decisions you’re making about her education — you want this journey to be enriching and enjoyable for both of you!
Tip 5: Begin your homeschooling adventure.
Adventure, you ask? Yes, homeschooling can be fun and enlightening, and it can also strengthen family bonds — so my advice is to slow down and enjoy it. There are innumerable educational opportunities awaiting all homeschoolers, so embrace the many advantages of this experience for you and your family.
A Final Bit of Advice
Educating your child at home takes much less time than the hours she spent in traditional school, in part because of time saved commuting to school and changing classes. Don’t be surprised when she is done with her daily lessons in two hours versus the six she used to spend at school, or when she completes an entire grade level of math in six months.
And don’t be afraid to experiment with different educational methods, philosophies, and curricula. You have the opportunity to tailor your child’s education to meet her individual needs; don’t feel compelled to stick with something if you believe it isn’t working.
To learn more about homeschooling children in advanced academic topics, read the Noodle article At the Edge of Knowledge: Resources for Homeschooling Parents Who Reach Their Teaching Limits.
You can also check out curriculum resources on websites like Sonlight.
For feedback on different homeschooling curricula, visit Cathy Duffy Reviews.
If you need legal advice about homeschooling, you may contact the Home School Legal Defense Association.
Turtel, J. (n.d.). Thousands of Parents Now Homeschool Their Children In Less Time Than You Think. Retrieved July 23, 2015, from Unschoolers Online.