5 Tips for the Home Schooling Path
When my husband and I found out that we were pregnant with our first born, it was amazing the number of questions that came up! “How are were going to raise her?”, “what is her name going to be?” (it took us 8 months to come to an agreement on her name), “what hospital do we want to go to?”, “are we going to co-sleep?” and so on.
I’m sure this is the norm for first time parents. I am also sure its normal to spend the ENTIRE pregnancy reading and researching every option and finding new options. Options we didn’t even know about pre-pregnancy.
The one thing my husband and I knew for a fact was that we were going to home school. Actually, to be honest, my husband was the first to bring it up. Every family has their reasons for choosing this route and most have many reasons.
During my pregnancy with our oldest and throughout next 2 years of their life I researched and studied home schooling. After all the research I still was no where near ready for the reality of what home-schooling would mean for us. We honestly went through SO MUCH information! The act of thinking about it gives me a headache.
Fast forward to today, we have a “4th” grader and a “1st” grader. I still research the topic often, I wanted to offer up some tips and tricks. Something useful to help you navigate the journey of starting home-schooling… no matter when you choose to do it.
- Learn the laws in your state.
Before you start doing anything, know what your state requires along with any outside public school options they offer. Some states require certain subjects to be taught, others want assessment test done once a year and others want to have a teacher to review a binder full of your child’s work through out year. Knowing ALL of this will help you understand what your legal obligations are in the state you reside in.
You will also have a list of other options, such as going under an Umbrella school. An Umbrella school is where a school serves to oversee the homeschooling of children to fulfill government educational requirements. The best place to find these laws is on your local County website. My county also had great links to: homeschooling groups, activities and umbrella school that they deemed appropriate. Also, your state website will have the applicable laws.
2. Look at different types of homeschooling methods.
This is where you can get over whelmed. First of all, keep an open mind. Not every option is going to work for you and the one you think you’re going to do could be the worst.
We actually do a combination of ways. We do Unit studies some months, we do a relax schooling with work books and online educational programs. We probably fall into the Unschooling most of the year (which is more child lead learning), but that is not how we started. We started by mimicking a classroom setting. We then began experimenting by trial and error until we found what worked best for our family. So feel confident that its OK to change your methods or twerk them until you find whats best for your family.
3. Find a curriculum.
So now you have an idea how you want to approach home-schooling. What do you use?? There are so many options ranging from expensive to free. Now some of us have the funds to pay as much as we like on this, and to be honest we did with the first. However once she got into 1st grade the cost was going to double and we were about to start our second kid. It was just to much for us. We found so many ways to do it for free, or for very little coast. There are so many low cost options, it just requires a bit of time and support. (I’ll get to that next).
4. Have support.
Having a good support system is really needed. I am sure you can do this all alone but I promise it makes it so much easier. My husband and family are apart of our support team, but there were many in our family that doubted us, and made me feel like I wasn’t giving my children the proper education.
My advice, join groups! They could be in your neighborhood, city, county, and on social media. My social media groups have saved me so many times. From giving me great free sites to visit, offering encouragement when I felt like I was failing, and helping when we would have trouble getting across a lesson.
I love my groups, its a judgement free zone, with parents that are all willing to help, educate, support, and uplift each other. My neighborhood and city groups get together and do field trips, and have “Not Back to school” parties. They also join classes at theaters and other extra curricular activities so they can get group discounts. They can be a great community and a life saver, even when we just want to vent or brag!
5. Don’t stress and try to have fun.
It is not going to be easy, nothing good ever is. Its going to take trial and error. It takes time to get a flow of what works for you and your family. Remember that home-schooling is not regular school. You don’t have to follow normal school studies or lesson or even timeline. Make life part of school, we started teaching our kids how to do math at the grocery store, adding up prices. We taught them about taxes. We incorporate movies and games into their studies. Go on field trips, the zoo during the school year is empty so it makes it great to take the kids and cooler since we live in Florida.
Tailor it to your families lifestyle. Try to be realistic about who you guys are. Don’t try to set your self on a schedule that you know will not work. Once you start to falter on it, you’ll get down on yourself, and start stressing out. That doesn’t do any one any good.
Homeschooling, like anything else, is a great adventure. It allows you to tailor your children education in a way that fits their needs and yours. It is flexible so it can fit into your family. There is no real right or wrong way to do it. As long as your kids are learning.
I know I listed support as #4, but its really #1. If you are seriously considering home-schooling, join some groups. My social media groups allow parents who are seriously thinking about homeschooling to join. Asking questions of people who have been down the road is invaluable. Use them, they will understand you better then anyone. We’ve all been there. Even if your starting with a child who is already in school and your taking them out to home-school, or your starting from the beginning.