by Janny Jackson
Disclaimer: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that I may earn a small commission from, at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. You may read my full disclaimer here.
BUT LIKE, HOW?
Now that you feel encouraged and ready to take the next step to homeschooling, you’re probably asking yourself what it looks like practically. So, let’s get into it.
1. Throw all that you know about “school” out the window. Especially if you all you know about school comes from public school. Say it with me “homeschool is not meant to look like public school”.
2. Go to hslda.org. This link will take you directly to the page to help you find the homeschool laws by your state, which is a great first step. Homeschool laws around the states vary from no regulation to low, moderate, and high regulation. You will find out if you need to keep records and what that looks like, what assessments are or are not required, if evaluations are required and more. I highly encourage you to spend some time clicking around on the site and soaking in all the information you can. There is a lot to read and process.
3. Once you know the laws for your state, decide on the subjects you want to teach. Some states may require certain subjects per grade level, others give you more freedom. If you have the freedom to choose, stick to the main subjects. That may look like handwriting, math, language arts, and spelling. The extra classes like science, history, art, geography, etc. can be added in as you develop a routine and a feel for the schedule you are capable of keeping.
(Notice how I said that.. capable of keeping. We all have an idea of what schedule we would like to have, but the reality of our days will determine what our daily schedule will actually look like.)
4. Get a good planner. This will help you keep all of your “plans” organized as you start to collect information and create a plan.
5. If you have a yearly overview in your planner, sit down with that. If not, find a free, printable one and insert it into your planner. Take a good look at your year. Decide on a realistic start date. Give yourself time to buy materials, prepare a space (mentally and physically) and truly be prepared for when you want to start. Block out any days you know you will be on vacation, have plans, want to take off for holidays or scheduled breaks, and highlight those days off.
6. Now that you have all those days highlighted, you can determine an end date for your school year. Factors that will also help you determine your end date are how many days you want to school a week, how many breaks you have, and if you want to school year round or the typical 180 days.
Side note, yes there is a lot of freedom in homeschooling. You may be wondering why you should do this if there is so much freedom. I say this as an encouragement to you, you will need the structure. Not only can it be difficult to stay disciplined in making sure you school every day, but without an end goal in site or any goals at all, burnout will happen quickly, which can lead to the downward spiral of feeling inadequate and wanting to quit, and your learners falling behind.
It isn’t so much about the schedule as it is about making sure you are taking this responsibility seriously, not just for yourself, but for your learners as well.
7. Decide on a loose budget for purchasing curriculum. If you are new to homeschooling this may seem impossible. But there are SO MANY free resources out there, and again, if you are only starting with main subjects you may want to search free resources first before spending money on something that may not work for you or you learners.
Most new homeschoolers will want to buy everything that has a good review, or everything that works for other moms and their learners, and it’s just not wise. If you have a budget in mind it will keep you from buying things that you may not ever even use.. speaking from experience here.
8. Research, research, research. I have found that the best way to find what might work for us is by reading or watching reviews and flip-throughs on different curriculums. Unfortunately, looking at curriculum in person isn’t an option in most places, at the moment.
There are a ton of curriculum options available, a lot of big names, some not so big. Look for opposing views on whatever curriculum you are looking at. Doing this will help you make a better decision, based off of a more well rounded view, on whether or not it will work for you and your learners.
There is no perfect choice, not as a beginner homeschooler at least. Just do your best. Sticking with open-and-go curriculums is wise if you are new to homeschooling. Speaking from personal experience, when we first started our journey I tried a math curriculum that required a teachers manual and it was incredibly overwhelming for me at the time. An open and go curriculum was specifically what I needed as a new homeschooler.
There is a chance you will pick something that may not work. And that’s okay. That is part of the process with homeschooling. Learning about yourself, and your learners, and what does and doesn’t work.
9. Create lists of what you want to buy, print out, books you want to read, materials needed, and start buying/collecting your resources. Be realistic. Does the curriculum you want to purchase seem attainable to you? If not, hold off on purchasing your entire list, and only buy what you will be using until you are more in a homeschool rhythm.
If you don’t care to buy everything brand new, you can look into buying second hand. A lot of the times you can buy what you are looking for new or like new from someone else, at a discounted price. This is especially helpful if you are buying for multiple learners.
10. Create a homeschool space for learning and storage. Do you want to school at the dining table, on the living room floor, outside on the patio, upstairs, in the car, at a desk? Do you have a space to store your books and curriculum? Have these questions in mind as you are preparing to create your space, as you may need different materials for different spaces.
Organization, with your schedule and materials, is key to having a thriving homeschool environment.
11. Keep an open mind. Homeschool is a fluid thing. It is ever-evolving. Things can change quickly, from attitudes, to plans, and everything in between. Keeping an open mind and being open to change will help to keep your expectations low and minimize your burnout risk, as well as keep the thoughts at bay that may say you aren’t good enough. Trust me, it will happen.
The most important thing you can do is set yourself up for success and stay disciplined as much as possible, so that no matter what life throws at you you know that you can face it with confidence, believing that you are doing your best.
I hope this was helpful and gets you excited and feeling prepared for your homeschool journey. I believe in you!