Homeschooling for Beginners, a Start-Up Guide from a Student's point of View
WELCOME TO THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF HOMESCHOOLING!
Are you curious and want to find out why people homeschool? Are you looking to homeschool, but don’t know where to begin? Have you answered yes to both of these questions?
In this post, you will find reasons why parents choose to homeschool and discover the fundamentals of starting your own.
Homeschooling is something I know very well, having been homeschooled until I graduated high school. I had many friends who were homeschooled for various reasons, and whose parents followed varying curriculums and teaching styles. After high school, I went into college prepared and ready for the future (well, as much as a college student can be). This post is written for those of you who are new to homeschooling, or are just curious about it, or maybe have barely started. Never fear; you are only a beginner before you have begun!
1. UNDERSTAND YOUR GOALS:
First, you need to ask yourself: what is you goal of homeschooling? More importantly, why do you, as a parent, need or want to homeschool? Are the public schools in your area not cutting it? Does your child need individual or accelerated learning or have special needs? Are you tired of paying private school tuition? Maybe your family needs something more flexible to meet a busy schedule. Whatever the reason, there is no such thing as a bad one.
The following is a list of reasons to why many families homeschool. You can view it as a sort of checklist, if you like:
Better environment (no more bullying, harmful influences, etc.)
Children with special needs (learning disabilities/physical needs, etc.)
Regulate what your child learns and when (advanced curriculum, etc.)
Flexibility (good for busy families or if you move quite a bit)
The freedom to instill religious values in your child’s education
My family homeschooled because they were concerned about the environment public schools offered students, especially bullying, and also because they wanted the freedom to practice our faith and teach it to us. If you agreed with even one of those reasons stated above, or maybe followed the link and found another reason, then you just might have found your goal for homeschooling. Finding your purpose for homeschooling is the first step in a long but fruitful process. If you do not know why you must do something, you will be unable to back up your opinion with evidence.
2. SEIZE YOUR POWER:
What is power and what does it have to do with homeschooling? Power, in this case, is an example of what homeschooling can give back to you. Now that you have chosen (or hopefully are choosing) a reason to homeschool, we must discover why it is an option in the first place. The reasons above are part of the equation; they are like the trunk of a tree.
Now, we are going to look at the branches. Here is a brief list of reasons homeschooling gives students power:
1. Students score better on standardized tests and the ACT/SAT.
2. Students are more socially and emotionally healthy.
3. Students have a stronger sense of identity and who they are.
4. Students will thrive in college much more quickly, and better.
5. Students are more likely to vote if they are homeschooled.
6. Students are socially equipped and well-socialized in an organic way.
3. DEVELOP YOUR STYLE:
Now that we have established goals of homeschooling and why homeschooling gives students a powerful boost, let’s dive into the flexibility homeschooling has! This, as you probably remember, was also an incentive for homeschooling. The style of learning in homeschooling varies from family to family. It could be a classroom set-up in a special room of the house, or reading a textbook on the way to a museum. It could be an online math curriculum or studying whatever your child finds interesting—so long as they learn the basics. Whatever your style, remember to find what works for you based on what your child needs.
I loved this part of school because I got to work at my own pace. Compared to public school, we finished the textbook in my house, which meant that I learned all of what I needed to and spent less time reviewing the next semester. Although my family used a more traditional textbook method, we also used online foreign language programs and counted an art museum as “art history”. A documentary counted as science, history, or anything else. This is especially good for students who need to work slower or faster. This taught me that life is always about learning, and learning never stops.
4. KNOW THE LAWS AND YOUR RIGHTS
Now that you have a basic idea of homeschooling itself (and trust me, there is a lot more I could tell you!), it is time to explore some ways you can get started as a beginner.
First, make sure you check your state’s laws on homeschooling. Some states require very strict records and testing, while some might not care that much as long as your child learns what they need to know based your area’s requirements. It’s always good to stay informed about your area’s laws. If your family is moving to another country, check what that country requires as well.
Keep in mind that not everyone you meet will know you homeschool, so it is a good idea to get involved with a legal organization, such as the Home School Legal Defense Association, HSLDA for the United States, in case you need emergency legal help. The most i had to deal with as a student was people asking random questions like “Do you like homeschooling?”. But it is always a good idea to be prepared.
5. DEVELOP A RECORD KEEPING A SYSTEM
Records are your number one way to make sure your child is on track and getting the information they need. These could be a transcript, or just a list of subjects covered and tests. Transcripts are required for high school, but for younger grades they are not always required.
My family kept track of our hours, which really just means “how long we did a subject that day”. If I did thirty minutes of science, I wrote down the subject and the timeframe. In high school, grades were placed on my transcript, while in grade school, I just did the work and learned more from experience than a grade. Check with your area to see the requirements to graduate, because the number of courses or hours determines how you structure courses, especially in high school.
6. THINK ABOUT SOCIALIZATION
This is such a misunderstood part of homeschooling it is laughable: homeschoolers are, yes, socialized! Are you concerned about how to do that? It is easier than you might think. Find a group of homeschoolers you can speak to. They can help you find new ways to homeschool, create more socialization for your child, and give you, the parent, a way to have fun as well!
Often you can find Facebook groups of moms or parents chatting about ideas and funny moments. Trips can also be included in a nontraditional curriculum as well. This could include going to an art museum or doing cheer practice. We homeschoolers also have something called a “co-op”, which is ingrained in the homeschooling culture. This is a group of homeschoolers who gets together on a certain day of the week; parents teach a certain subject to give kids an idea of a classroom setting, but the subjects can range
7. CHOOSE YOUR CURRICULUM
Curriculum varies from family to family. It might be the usual textbook-and-lecture, an online curriculum, a form of unschooling, or a mixture of all three. The best thing to do is to try and try again! Often, these things will be discovered by using one method after another until you find a system that works for you. One of the best memories I have of finding a curriculum when I was homeschooled is begging my mom for a specific science book, because I loved the images and vocabulary.
Spoiler: I finally got it in sixth grade! My point is that you can tailor curriculum not only for the family’s needs but also for what your child needs, no matter how they learn. I suggest Google-ing or researching different curriculum companies that fit your needs.
NOW TO WRAP UP…
Homeschooling is not for everyone. That is completely okay. The goal is to become educated about new ideas for schooling if the traditional way is not working for you. Homeschooling can be done for many reasons, and creates a power that families do not usually have in public schools. It also gives students power over their own education and future, and creates confidence. As a plus side, homeschooling can be altered to fit your personal needs! Some ways to get started are: to research your state’s requirements; find a way to keep records that works; seek out other homeschoolers and opportunities to “do stuff”; and choose a curriculum suited to your needs.
Remember: there is no wrong way to learn. If you do choose to homeschool, then I challenge you. Do some legwork, do some soul-searching, and the make a choice. For more resources, go to this link and find even more spell-binding ways to let your child flourish. I promise, you will not regret it.