Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Let's Talk About Homeschooling :: Part 1 - Getting Started

So...you're thinking about homeschooling? Great!
Homeschooling may not be for every child and/or family, but I can say that our family has been blessed by it and I have seen many others benefit from homeschooling as well.
Let's talk about it...

Where do I start?
Start at the library.

I suggest checking out:
Mary Pride's Complete Guide to Getting Started in Homeschooling
This book gave a good overview of the different education styles and also some information on learning styles. I didn't read everything in the book, but I did enjoy the sections that I did read. I took notes as I went through it, and that has been helpful for me - particularly the notes on the different education styles. (As with pretty much everything else these days, you can also do internet research on those.)

101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy
This book gave good information on some of the different curricula and it was very helpful. Cathy Duffy also has a review website (http://www.cathyduffyreviews.com/), but I believe the reviews on her 101 top picks are clipped short so that you have to get the book.

(Note: I personally do not think there is a good reason to own these two books...but do be sure to take notes as you read.)

In addition to these two books, I highly recommend getting one of Rainbow Resource's print catalogs as a source for checking out a variety of curricula. I kid you not - it is as thick (or thicker) than a phonebook. It. is. BIG. It may be a bit overwhelming at first...but it has been tremendously helpful to me. They list a review (sometimes two) for each product and often mention what types of families/kids each curriculum would work for. You can order a catalog from their website here. (Bonus: they have one of the largest selections and some of the best prices I have found.)

I live in [insert state name here] - is there anything in particular I need to know?
Yes, where you live does have an impact on your homeschooling. Each state handles homeschooling differently: some states have very few laws and regulations, some have many. In some states, homeschooling families are actually considered private schools.
For a general description of each state's laws, check out A2Z Home's Cool.

For further research, try Googling: "[state name] homeschool laws". You will be sure to find plenty of relevant results.

(Note: Compliance with any state's laws and regulations is up to you and your family, so be sure to thoroughly research on your own. If you prefer, you can join HSLDA who provides legal help and advocacy for it's members. You can join HSLDA here.)

Can I really teach my kid(s)?
Yes...and the good news is you will learn along the way, too. If you can read, you can teach your kids. (And by the way...who do you think has taught them up until now? It was most likely you...whether you were calling yourself a teacher or not.)

If you are starting off your homeschooling in preschool, kindergarten, or even first grade - please...go easy on yourself. Often times, kids already know what they "need" to know at those ages (colors, shapes, letters, etc.).
But what if they don't?
Don't stress.
Really.
It will come in time. I know that may be hard to hear, but at this age, fostering a love for learning and exploring and loving books is so much bigger than stressing out your little ones over the basics.

Can I teach multiple kids at once?
Yes. You can teach multiple kids (different grades/ages) and still manage to get it all in each day. There are many ways that families teach multiple levels all in one shot. I hope to expand on this further in a future blog post.

What do I need to cover for each grade?
The basic subjects are:
  • Social Studies (History/Geography)
  • Language Arts (Formerly known as "English")
  • Science
  • Mathematics
If you want to know more specifically what should be covered for each grade (Preschool, Kindergarten, and Grades 1-12) - I recommend checking out the Typical Course of Study from World Book.

Do I have to teach each subject individually?
No. If you've come from a public school background, this may be a surprise to you. You do not need to break up your day into "math time", "history time", etc. Although many families do keep the various subjects separate, you don't have to. Try researching unit studies to see how this can work. (Hopefully I can touch on this in a later blog post, as well.)

Okay...so now can I plan out the next 12 years of our homeschooling life?
We've adjusted what we do over the years, and we will probably keep adjusting as the years go on. I love research (yes...really) so I had every. single. thing. planned out before my kids officially started school. I knew what curriculum we would use (from kindergarten through high school for all 3 kids), how much each year we would be spending on new curriculum, etc. But - that's kind of all out the window now. (Let this be a lesson to all of my fellow researchers and planners.) Sure, go ahead and plan it all out (I know you will)...but don't be disappointed in yourself when you veer off course in a year or two. I'd suggest just taking it a year at a time and adjust accordingly.

That's all I am going to cover for this post, but stay tuned - I have more homeschooling posts headed your way.

Have a great day!
Disclaimer: Any information and links provided are my personal preference or suggestions. In no way is any of this meant to be taken as (or in place of) legal advice. 

1 comment:

Marianne #6701 in AZ said...

Even though I wad not blessed with children, I find the concept of homeschooling interesting. I worked with the public schools for 12 years and I know so many children fall through the cracks. Unfortunately, they are not usually the ones who have parents who would ever bother looking into homeschooling. Something tells me your kids would do just fine either way... If you weren't homeschooling, you would still be providing the loving, nurturing Christian home that makes all the difference!