Many first time homeschooling parents are overwhelmed by the planning and organization that is required to homeschool their child. From planning curricula, to how many hours a day should be spent on each subject, to juggling between schooling more than one child, homeschooling can appear on the surface to be an almost impossible task. Included in this article are some informative tips that will help any parent in getting started with the initial steps of homeschooling: including legal help for homeschoolers, information about Homeschool Support Groups by state, affordable curriculum suppliers, and everything needed to organize a homeschool record-keeping notebook.
Resources for New Homeschoolers
Legal Help for Homeschooling
The first step for many parents deciding to homeschool involves finding out the legal aspects of homeschooling in their state. Many parents have discovered just how vital it is to know what is expected of them, legally, as a parent if they decide to school their child or children at home instead of in a public school setting. Some states are moderate in their requirements, requiring little notice and recordkeeping to the local school district, while other states are more extensive, requiring tedious record keeping, grades, schedules, curricula used, etc. to be reported to the local school district. The following organization can help you find out what your state requires of you as a home educator. You don’t have to become a member of HSLDA to obtain useful information; however, I would recommend it due to the services they provide.
P.O. Box 3000
Purcellville, VA 20134-9000
Comment: The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is worth every penny invested in them. For 24 years, HSLDA has been defending family freedoms, and the constitutional rights of parents to homeschool their children. With only a one-time yearly fee of $115 (payable in monthly or quarterly payments if needed), members are given legal counsel for any issues concerning homeschooling, information regarding homeschooling legally in your state, full legal representation if ever presented with a threat from the public school districts, etc., and more. Their website and newsletter contains very useful homeschooling information, legal updates of what is taking place in Congress in each state, cases recently in court in various states, and more.
Homeschool Support Groups
Each state has its own homeschooling organizations which provide support to homeschooling parents. The support includes keeping you informed on current proposed legislation that could affect your states homeschooling laws and any political action you can take. It also includes (but is not limited to) tips on homeschooling, and information regarding homeschool related news and events happenings in your area. Depending on the state you live in, some of these groups can serve as an “umbrella” for your homeschool. An umbrella school is a school which offers to oversee your child’s education to make sure it meets your states schooling requirement. This is done by keeping track of progress reports, attendance, etc. The following organization provides specific Homeschool Support Groups per state. You can obtain this list by requesting it, or simply by visiting their website and clicking on their Directory of Organizations.
P.O. Box 20219
Portland, OR 97294
Affordable Homeschool Curriculum
Finding affordable curricula is always important for those of us who have a limited budget for supplies. Following is a list (though not exhaustive) of curriculum suppliers who offer reasonable or discounted rates for their supplies and who I would recommend. Subscribing to a good magazine for home educators (such as The Teaching Home, 503-253-9633) is always helpful as well and can give you more detailed information on which suppliers would work best for your homeschooling needs.
Comment: They are known for their affordable LIFEPAC series.
Comment: They have discount prices on materials from a number of publishers.
Comment: They offer the CTBS, TerraNova, CAT/5, & TCS for testing your child at home.
Comment: Most of their material is offered at a discount.
Comment: They offer curriculum and a home satellite program for grades K-12.
Comment: They offer discounts on most major homeschool publishing titles such as Alpha Omega, Bob Jones, and Saxon Math.
My Fathers World
Comment: They offer fun, full curriculum packages for kindergarten and first grade, and other curriculum for grades 2-12. Additional curriculum is being added periodically for the upper grades, so be sure to check back with their site for updates.
(888) 841-3456 for Orders
(309) 695-3200 for Questions
Comment: I have found their curriculum prices to be the cheapest, and the shipping costs associated with their supplies are minimal. Many Home schooling supply companies do not offer free shipment with low-cost orders, but Rainbow Resource Center does with purchases over $150. They usually ship orders within the first week (even though their policy states within 2-4 weeks). I use them 95% of the time for my homeschool curriculum needs and am completely satisfied with them. They also offer a 30-day money back guarantee on orders returned in salable condition, if not completely satisfied.
Comment: Saxon is the number one math curriculum used by homeschoolers. My children have found their material to be easier than any others we’ve tried.
Comment: I love their grammar program, and my children have found their material to be fun, exciting, and easy to learn. After trying various grammar programs, this program is the only one I will use.
For Special Needs:
P.O. Box 39
Porthill, ID 83853
Creating a Homeschool Resource Binder
Oh the dread that can follow when one has to organize a homeschool notebook for the first time, especially if new to the task. This can be especially tedious for those who find they may not be as organized or structured as they would like.
The Homeschool Planner I have found to be most effective for my homeschooling needs is the Caryn Harris Homeschool Planner. Her planner is simple, easy to use, and reproduction of her material is permissible for personal use only. This planner contains planning instructions and forms to use which are easily accessible for copying purposes. Caryn Harris has done an excellent job with this planner and the cost is very reasonable. It can be purchased at Rainbow Resource Center or from any supplier who carries it.
Following is a list of what a typical homeschool organization notebook should include. Each subject listed should be on a tab inside the notebook, with the pertinent information attached within each subject. The subjects are ordered according to their importance and their relevance to the homeschooling families need. The notebook is usually a 3-ring binder that includes the following subjects:
This includes everything pertaining to homeschooling legally in your state, including memberships with HSLDA, if applicable.
This includes copies of your child’s immunization records and student I.D. cards, if obtained. HSLDA provides student I.D. cards to their members. Your notebook can also include copies of previous year report cards, for record-keeping purposes.
This includes the contact numbers for various organizations, such as HSLDA, Homeschool Suppliers, your local School District’s Superintendent, Libraries, U.S. Representatives for your state, etc.
This includes any information you’ve recorded for planning your homeschool, the curriculum to be used, people to contact, etc. It’s used as an all-around note section for the planning of your homeschool.
This includes the weekly list of Vocabulary Words that your child will cover. It’s typically filled out weekly.
Depending on the month you begin homeschool, these tabs are used to separate each month that you will be homeschooling your child. Contained within them will be your Monthly Overview and Daily Lesson Plans. You can also include anything else that might prove helpful for you, such as Weekly Accomplishments or Incomplete Work.
Included within this section are your child’s attendance records. It sounds ridiculous, I know. You really only need this if your state requires you to report attendance.
This section is for your child’s Progress Reports and copies of Quarterly Report Cards. If you don’t want to include Report Cards in this section, you can make a separate tab for your convenience.
Your child’s Reading List is included within this section. It covers the list of books your child has read, including the date they finished the book, the title of the book, the Author of the book, and any comments.
This section is a fun section used to record precious things your children have said throughout the school year, which are a keepsake.
This section is used to record field trips your child has gone on, including the date, place, contact person, and any comments.
This section is used for master copies of any documents you’ve used to organize your homeschool notebook. It includes the documents used for all the titles listed above. I have found this to be very useful when I need to make copies of the weekly lesson planner page, since I plan our homeschool schedule one week at a time.
Homeschooling requires time, patience and planning. Staying organized can make the process go much smoother, and planning is vital to keeping a homeschool environment thriving. Even though the initial planning of homeschool may appear tedious at first glance, the information included in this article should help you get started. Organization is a key to homeschooling effectively.
Also published on Medium.