Homeschooling can seem intimidating, whether your kids are in preschool, high school, or somewhere in between.
Not only is it a smaller scale classroom experience, but in order to homeschool you have to be prepared to offer help and to provide a school experience that echoes the experience students would get in a traditional classroom.
Luckily, there are plenty of resources available now that will allow first-time homeschoolers to adjust and grow into their newfound learning setup.
How Do You Get Started?
Homeschooling and in-home learning are well-established alternative learning options, so there are plenty of resources in place to help those that are just starting out. Before you start teaching your kids, take time to do research.
Look up the expectations and guidelines for your local school district to make sure that you’re following protocols and to ensure your students will be properly accredited for their at-home education and instruction. There are accredited online public schools out there, so if you’re not committed to taking the time to teach then there are plenty of options at your disposal.
If you’re concerned about getting approved for homeschooling in your district or worried about establishing legitimacy, the Home School Legal Defense Association has resources available on their website to support you in your homeschool journey.
Now that you’ve established that you can home school, where should you go next? Below, we’ve laid out the next steps in embarking on your homeschooling path and ways to make the transition easier for you and your students.
Determine Your Learning Model
Ultimately, homeschooling is about your kids and their unique learning needs. Are they self-starters, comfortable studying and reading on their own, or do they need more hands-on activity and participation?
One of the best things about homeschooling is the way you can tailor the curriculum directly to the student, rather than relying on one model for a whole group of individual learners. Taking time to understand your child’s preferred style of education will help them excel within a homeschool curriculum. Before you begin, you should take time to set expectations with your students about what the boundaries and rules of your particular home school will be.
If you’re concerned about homeschooling entirely from scratch, don’t worry. Organizations like K12 have full curriculums prepared for students that are taking their classes at home, and if you’re concerned about your teaching skills they even have instructors ready to go.
Other examples of curriculums include Oak Meadow and Moving Beyond the Page. If you want to pursue teaching your child yourself, but you still want access to a community of resources, look into local homeschooling groups and co-ops that will help you cultivate a network of homeschoolers, as well as peers your children can connect with as they’re learning at home.
There are several widely used homeschooling systems available, as well as many different philosophies for how best to teach children in the home. Check out the following resources to break down how best to homeschool based on your children’s age, their school district’s expectations, and other factors:
Keep in mind that you’re not beholden to one learning model or another, especially if you get started and things aren’t going as smoothly as you would like. If you find that home-based teaching isn’t for you, there are free and private online schools that can work as homeschooling platforms for your student.
There’s no one system that works for everyone, so be sure to keep that in mind in case you hit bumps along the road.
Designate Your Workspace and Schedule
One important aspect of both homeschooling and any work done from home is setting aside space that’s learning-specific so that the lines of productivity and relaxation don’t get too blurred. Even if the classroom is a corner of the dining room table with a laptop, settling your homeschoolers into the same space every day will help reinforce your educational routine. Not only that but having a daily schedule, with timelines and requirements for both you and your students will help create a sense of structure.
If you’re splitting homeschooling or homeschool monitoring responsibilities between yourself and a partner, make sure that you have plans in place to account for disruptions like work and scheduling issues. Ultimately, choosing to homeschool is a large time commitment that is extremely intertwined with your child’s ability to achieve academically, so take measures to ensure everyone’s success—yours included.
Homeschooling can be particularly isolating, especially in the early years of a child’s social and behavioral development. If you don’t have an interest in connecting with homeschooling groups, consider enrolling your child in extracurricular activities like sports or the arts that will allow them to build social relationships and spend time with other children their age.
Get Your Materials Together (For Yourself and Your Kids)
Depending on the age of your homeschool students and their curriculum, ensuring that you have all the physical materials ready to go before school starts can help make the transition into the school year easier.
Consider taking your students back-to-school shopping with you so that they understand what the purpose of each item will be and where educational tools will fit into their individual curriculum. For the most part, certain items from typical back-to-school lists will be similarly necessary to a home school setting, like papers and pens, but you might want to adjust your materials for whichever learning philosophy you choose to prioritize.
Students aren’t the only party in a homeschool relationship, and your preparation is just as important to academic success as theirs. If you’re unfamiliar with or uncomfortable with certain subjects, take the time to learn them before your children, so you can better instruct or help them with homework. Even if you think you’re comfortable with a topic, it’s likely that the way that topic is taught has shifted in recent years. Taking the onus on yourself to know and be familiar with the subjects your students will study can vastly improve a homeschooling experience.
Below are a few more resources that will help you find tips and tricks to become a homeschooling success. Take your time, keep an open dialogue with your kids, and enjoy the ride!