Homeschooling is not just about children learning; it’s also a learning experience for parents. Just getting started is often the hardest part, but there are everyday challenges to meet as well. Here are 5 tips to make getting started with homeschooling easier:
- Check the law. While it is legal to home educate your child in all 50 states, the particulars of the laws that govern homeschooling, subjects, hours, documentation, and registration vary from state to state. For example, in some states, parents must register their home education programs as private schools. Parents have to file a notarized affidavit before they begin homeschooling in some states while others do not require notice from parents before they begin. Before you start homeschooling, check the law in your state and ensure that you meet every requirement listed.
- Relax. This is an important tip, especially for most parents who begin homeschooling after their children have already been to school. Many feel extreme pressure to do things exactly as a teacher would in a classroom, but that isn’t always practical or best for teaching at home. Instead, breathe and consider your child’s unique personality and learning style. Adapt your homeschool to your child’s needs and preferences as well as your own.
- Choose wisely. Most veteran homeschoolers have a horror story or two to tell about unsuitable curriculum. When you’re new to home education, you may be impressed by curriculum choices that seem to include all the bells and whistles wrapped up in shiny packages. You might purchase one, thinking you’ve hit the education lottery, only to find that it does not work well for your child. This is because education is not one size fits all, and what works well for one child may bomb for another. Before you jump in with both feet, do your research. Search online for what other parents are saying about a program, or better yet, speak with a few experienced homeschoolers before you choose. Request details about the program you’re considering and which type of learner they think the curriculum serves best. Try to obtain just a portion of the curriculum, such as a book or two, and use that in your homeschool before you purchase the whole thing. You can also attend curriculum fairs to get a feel for your choices before you buy.
- Experiment. Keep in mind that there are different ways to homeschool. Some parents choose school at home while others unschool or use eclectic teaching methods. Avoid locking yourself into one choice. Instead, experiment with different approaches until you find one that will work best for your child. This won’t harm your child, but it will help ensure that you provide the right type of learning environment for your child’s needs. Likewise, it will help you avoid the overwhelming pressure that comes with trying to force your child to learn via an approach that is just all wrong for him or her.
- Get local support. As soon as you decide that you are even interested in homeschooling, look for local homeschooling groups in your community. These groups can be helpful in a number of ways. First, they can prove a great source of support, encouragement and help for new homeschoolers. Second, they often provide information and recommendations for curriculum programs and other materials you might need. Third, many offer field trips, group classes and social gatherings that not only provide additional learning experiences but also the opportunity for you and your children to cultivate new friendships.
Keep in mind, as you move forward with your plans to homeschool, that home education can be fun and rewarding, but it can also prove challenging and downright difficult at times. Be patient with yourself and your children as you navigate this wonderful education option.