Whether you’ll be starting to homeschool your little one or you’re withdrawing your child from school in order to homeschool there are a few things to do.
First, find your why.
Why are you homeschooling? This is super important to articulate. So write it down, say it out loud.
It could be that there is one particular thing that you hope to accomplish by homeschooling or it could be there is something you wish to avoid and that’s why you’re homeschooling. It could be a combination of reasons.
Now when I say to think of your why, I don’t mean the answer you’ll be giving to the curious checkout clerk. I mean your why. Your personal reasons. The reasons that will keep you going when the going gets tough and you fall into a season of chaos or crisis (and it will happen). Then knowing why you’re doing this homeschool thing will help to keep things in perspective. You’ll look at the big picture and realize that whatever roadblock comes your way is just that… something to find your way around.
Check your state laws.
Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, but each state has it’s own regulations. ResponsibleHomeschooling.org has a great resource to get you started in researching your state’s mandates.
You’ll find out if you have to give notice, if there are parent qualifications, if certain subjects are mandated, if and how you are to do record keeping, if assessments are administered, and if there are special issues to consider.
Be sure to dig deeper onto your own state’s laws. HSLDA is a popular resource to keep up with what’s happening in the homeschool world. You could also search for any defense organization specific to your state. Sign up for their newsletters and exhaust the information they provide on their sites. It is wiser to be sure you’re crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s before you get too far along in your homeschool journey. Backtracking or recovering from a mistake is no fun.
Write down your goals.
This is the big picture goal. When your kids leave home, what will you want to have accomplished by homeschooling? What do you envision they will learn from you? What’s most important?
Then you can focus on “okay, what’s most important for the next three years?” and write down those goals. Then come up with a few goals for the next year and write it down.
Decide what philosophy or philosophies you most resonate with.
I know this can be a little confusing sometimes, but take a little time to research the beliefs behind a handful of educational philosophies. A few that I can think of off the top of my head are Waldorf, Montessori, Classical, Charlotte Mason (which you’ll find is right where we land in this “philosophy of education” department), unschooling, and eclectic (which is a mix of different schools of thought).
Ask yourself “What is education, and how is it done?”. As you learn what the different methods are, you’ll get a pretty good picture of what you do believe to be true and what you don’t. It’s normal to find you line up with a few of the philosophies out there and the point isn’t to settle in one camp but to understand for yourself what you believe education is and how it’s best accomplished for you and your family.
Choose your curricula. Or not.
Navigating the world of curricula is often the first place homeschooling families tend to want to figure out. But it’s like going out into open waters without a compass. You’ll be in the midst of sooooo many choices you won’t know which way to go. Let your goals and educational philosophy act as your compass.
Once you get a good idea of what education means to you, you’ll be able to sort through the plethora of curricula and have a good idea if it’s a good fit. You might even find out that you don’t need any curricula, yet. For littles, I’d say you could even skip it until your child is six. You can naturally teach the basics in a gentle way without anything formal, it’ll all be okay.
And just get started. Enjoy this journey. Always continue to learn more about homeschooling, be confident, and just get to it. You can do this!