HOW TO START HOMESCHOOLING? BEGIN WITH THE LEGAL STUFF
Homeschool laws vary from country to country and, in the United States, from state to state. To homeschool, you need to know what the local law requires of you and your child. Some states require a certain number of college credits from the parent(s) who will be teaching them. Others only require a high school diploma. Most will require that you go to your school district and declare your intent to homeschool, a curriculum and yearly testing of your child, and some states have virtually no requirements at all.
States that are particularly homeschool friendly are:
- New Jersey
To find out how your state compares and what regulations they might have, go here.
I highly recommend joining a homeschool legal defense organization. School districts and municipalities have been known make demands of homeschooling families that are not required by law.
Homeschool Legal Defense Association is the largest such organization. It is "Christian" but is open to all homeschooling families. For Texas residents, Texas Homeschool Coalition provides similar support. An internet search for your home state will likely provide you with similar organizations.
TIME AND COST INVOLVED
Some parents set up an actual classroom in the home, many homeschooled kids work at the kitchen table or sprawled out on the couch. Parents who work late hours prefer that their kids do some schooling in the evening or into the night, so they will be there to help, and then there are the early bird homeschoolers who are up at dawn, working furiously on their schoolwork, so they can play all afternoon!
There is no single, best way to homeschool, but depending on your style, circumstances and the ages and abilities of your kids you may want to:
- have some type of organized schedule for schoolwork, activities
- set aside time to create and go over lesson plans or use ready-made plans that come with many types of curricula and on websites.
- set measurable goals for your child’s progress.
- set a school schedule. It can be flexible, but the time for education should be clearly marked out.
Bottom line, there is no one best way to homeschool. As you consider how to start homeschooling, know there’s a lot of freedom and room to grow.
Homeschooling will also have a cost, but it doesn’t need to be expensive. When you think of what you spend through the year for public school, it actually is far cheaper.
There are plenty of free materials available online. Ambleside Online is an excellent free curriculum that only requires you to obtain the books used in reading assignments, and many of those are either free or extremely inexpensive.
WHERE TO FIND CURRICULUM
Homeschool curriculum used to very expensive, even when buying your books used. With the internet that is no longer true. In fact, many curricula can be found online for free. Some are religious and others are not. Some even have a list of materials you will need to buy as well as downloadable material. Here are a few:
FREE HOMESCHOOLING STUFF ONLINE
In addition to the full curriculum you can find online, there are also plenty of extras that you can find and integrate into your lesson plans. Free stuff to add on:)
There are groups available to help with homeschooling and offer support. Homeschool Legal Defense Association has a directory of the groups in your the United States by state and county. There are groups that offer extra classes, 4H groups, or sports teams. You could also start your own group should you feel so inclined. You could offer to teach a subject you are strong in, such as science or literature, while another parent may teach math.
FIELD TRIPS AND GETTING OUTSIDE!
Homeschooling doesn’t mean being stuck at home with your children and a bunch of books all day long. It also means that there can be more field trips. Go to national parks for classes in biology. Visit a rock climbing studio for physical education. Visit museums, beaches, art galleries, aquariums, and zoos. Many local attractions are either free or very inexpensive. It allows your classes to be creative and gives your child a chance to see the education given to them has real world application.
There are a large number of activities geared to homeschoolers and some museums, science centers, and the like even offer daytime classes, specifically for them.
And, there is a multitude of online classes available. Just a few links to check out:
The Academy at Bright Ideas Press
- Homeschool Legal Defense Association — This group is Christian but will defend all homeschoolers against illegal harassment regardless of their faith.
- Information about learning styles
- Learn about your state’s homeschooling laws at the HSLDA website
- Homeschooling advice from The Survival Mom — A collection of articles that have appeared on this blog.
- Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto — A classic, written by an award-winning public school teacher.
- The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child by Linda Dobson
- So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling by Lisa Whelchel
- Teach Your Own by John Holt — A classic written by a pioneering homeschool dad.
- The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
- The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas by Linda Dobson
- The River Houses offer calendars and a wealth of free educational advice to help you guide your little one:)
- Click here for a list of free homeschool resources I compiled to help:)
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