So, You Want To Homeschool?
Many parents begin with the question “how do I homeschool?” when starting their homeschool journey. There is no wrong answer, and there are many ways to homeschool your children. The key is choosing the right homeschool style and curriculum for your family. Thankfully, all states have homeschool laws that are easy to follow. There are even groups to join to help you navigate your homeschool journey. If you’re considering homeschooling, we will help you begin the process below by discussing the journey, curriculums, and top concerns with homeschooling.
If you had a school-aged child at the start of the pandemic, you likely experienced the joys and frustrations of remote learning. For my kindergartener and son with special needs, remote learning turned into a disaster. Homeschool is nothing like the traditional school classroom, and doesn’t need to be! Knowing this, we started our homeschool journey and have never looked back.
Deciding What Works Best For Your Family
The first step in the homeschool journey is deciding what works for your family. There are many reasons to homeschool, including flexibility, more personalized education, and more family time. Other reasons are dissatisfaction with school options or seeing a child struggle in various subjects. One thing that holds parents back from homeschooling is a lack of faith that they can do it. Parents are a child’s best teacher, and there are truly so many ways to homeschool you can find one that works for your family.
Once you’ve decided to homeschool, think about the children you will be educating and how they learn best. Some children learn best through being in nature and in a more unschooled and unstructured environment, while others thrive in structure and a more typical school day. Other things to consider include the type of curriculum, co-ops/group meet-ups, and family structure.
If parents have flexibility in their schedule, part of the homeschool year may include trips and educational adventures. Other parents may work and do school work during the evening time, while the daytime is filled with extracurriculars for their child. Some homeschool families have younger children who nap, and school time and field trips can be structured around that personal family dynamic to allow more one-on-one time with older children. No two years of homeschool will look alike, so plan each year according to your child’s needs and your specific family needs.
Spend Time Researching Curriculums
A great way to choose a curriculum is to consider which one is the best fit for your family. Educating one child will look much different than educating five, and that’s the beauty of homeschool- it can be tailored to meet each family where they are at. There are secular curriculums, Christian curriculums, and Catholic curriculums. You can unschool or even create your own curriculum. Unschooling consists of focusing on the experimental part of learning instead of “doing school.” You can create your own curriculum for free using a quick google search for the grade level, lesson plan, and subject (ex: grade 1 lesson plan math). There are hundreds if not thousands of worksheets for free available. Pinterest is another great source for creative lesson plans. Since we’re a Catholic family a few of our favorite curriculums include Abeka, The Good and the Beautiful, Seton, and CHC. The options are vast and there’s something for everyone!
Since I have many children close to the same age, we currently homeschool “schoolhouse” style. Using a curriculum for my oldest, the younger ones learn right alongside him at their own level. This might look like my oldest completing a grade-level-appropriate math worksheet, my preschoolers doing a math puzzle, and my toddler sorting colored counting bears. When we did a lesson on time/clocks, I had manipulative clocks for everyone to learn right with their older brother. Getting all the kids involved in lessons when you have a large family encourages enthusiasm and fun with learning, for both the teacher and kids!
Concerns With Homeschooling
Does your state have any specific homeschool laws? It is a worthy question to consider before deciding to homeschool. Laws vary state-to-state, but there are resources available on the internet to help. HSLDA is a great resource to navigate homeschool laws in your state. Some states require record-keeping and compliance with state guidelines, others have no requirements other than subject suggestions. Make sure to check the laws in your state, and if you’re unsure check with a trusted resource such as HSLDA.
One major concern shared by all parents is “can I do this?” The answer is of course you can! Parents are their child’s best teachers. If you have any concerns with teaching the appropriate subjects and subject matter, look into one of the many curriculums available. The curriculum we use comes with a teacher’s edition, which makes me more comfortable knowing how other teachers educate their students in certain subjects. For example, I know how to write in cursive, but I do not know how to teach cursive well. I spent some time researching online and asking other homeschool parents what they use for the cursive curriculum. Then, taking into consideration how my son learns, we decided on a program through Abeka. Again, what works for my son may not be the best for yours, and so it is with all homeschool families.
Another concern revolves around family structure. Do you have a child with special needs or children in various ages and stages of life? Regardless of the age and needs of your child, homeschooling is flexible enough to meet the specific needs of your family. For families with multiple ages of children close together, it makes sense to educate the first since you technically have less time with them. This may not work in a family where one child has special needs, but that’s the beauty of homeschooling: you can decide what your day will look like, who will learn what, and when.
If children are close in age, encourage them to sit in on the older child’s lessons. You’d be amazed how much the younger children learn right along with older siblings! Through the independence fostered in the homeschool environment, older children can teach themselves many subjects or use an online tutor for subjects that are of interest but high-level. Many homeschool teenagers graduate early and begin courses through their local community college before they turn 18.
By the time your child turns 18, they will have had many opportunities for socialization. From family time with siblings to extracurriculars, to co-ops and meet-ups, homeschool children are not lacking in socialization. A great benefit of homeschooling is that the “school” part can be done in half the time as a brick-and-mortar school, leaving your child with more time to socialize in your community. Network with other homeschool families in your area through social media groups and word of mouth to find when local groups meet. Your local library may already have homeschool families meeting up during the day! Playing with neighbors and cousins count as socialization, too, which is a great benefit of homeschooling.
However, the greatest benefit of homeschooling is having the privilege of being your child’s teacher, and watching them pick up a new subject. It’s a great lesson for all in perseverance when a child first learns how to spell, or read and write, and moves onto mastery of the subject. An experienced homeschool mom once told me I would never regret the days I spent teaching my kids, and I wholeheartedly agree. The days are long and the years are oh so very short. Homeschool allows one to enjoy those short years just a little longer.