Whether you’re getting your child ready to start their first day of kindergarten in the fall, or you’ve found yourself an unlikely and unexpected homeschooler, planning that very first year of home education can be an overwhelming, and sometimes scary, process.
Where should you start? Is there a certain curriculum that is better than the others? What should you teach? How much time do you actually need to spend on school work? The questions seem endless when you’re preparing to teach your children at home for the first time. But don’t worry! You’re not alone!
These, and many others like them, are common concerns of the first-time homeschooling parent. Fortunately, this fantastic list of tips will hopefully ease a few of your fears and make planning that first year a little bit easier.
Know What Your State Requires
While homeschooling is legal in all 50 US states, the laws that govern homeschooling are vastly different from state to state. While some states require portfolios of work and educational plans, other states require virtually no notification from the homeschooling family at all.
Check with your state’s Department of Education or take a look at HSLDA’s state by state guide for the homeschooling guidelines required by your state to determine what is required for your family to homeschool legally.
Keep It Simple
There is nothing worse than spending hundreds of dollars on a brand new, full curriculum, only to get three weeks into your new school year and realize that you hate it. What works for everyone else may not work for your children so try as hard as you can to keep your first year of homeschooling as simple as possible.
Use this time to find out where your children’s biggest interests lie. Focus on the three basics (reading, writing, and math) and work the rest of the subjects in as you become comfortable. Over time you may find that your child loves science or that they’re a visual learner and that will make adding new subjects and deciding how to teach them a whole lot easier.
Just remember, this is not only an adjustment for them, but for you as well. Don’t burn yourself out in the first week of the year by trying to cover every single subject at once. Start small and work your way up!
Build Your Village
You may be homeschooling because of previous experiences with the public school system or you may just prefer to teach your children at home on your own. Regardless, this homeschooling journey you’re about to embark on will be ten times easier with the help of the people around you.
Whether your village consists of a group of local homeschooling moms and dads, a co-op that you become members of, or even just friends and family, find a group of people that support your decision to homeschool and can give you advice or even just listen when you’re having a bad day.
There are some seriously awesome people in the homeschooling world. In fact, you will probably pick up more amazing tips from a veteran homeschooling mom that you would from reading ten books on the subject. In the end, you might just make a few lifelong friends!
Comparison is the thief of joy. No two children learn alike and constantly comparing what your children are learning to that of their peers (even homeschooled ones) is a surefire way to bring down your mood.
Your child may not be doing as well in science as one of their homeschool friends but you never know the circumstances. Science may very well be that friend’s favorite subject while your child may be ahead of them in math. Every child learns differently and at different rates, comparing will only make it a more difficult process for everyone.
Above all else, remember that you know your child better than anyone and no one is more qualified to teach them. Take your first year easy and use that time to figure out your routine and what works best for your family, the rest will fall into place.