Learn how to start homeschooling. Find advice on how to follow your local rules, where to look for advice and supplies, and how to join your local homeschool community.
A Guide on How to Start Homeschooling
Right now, more and more schools across the country are moving to distance learning only for this fall. We live in a fantastic school district, so I’m one of the only parents in our area who has any experience homeschooling. As a result, I keep getting questions from people about how to start homeschooling. I decided to create this guide to answer the most common questions I’ve gotten so far. Please let me know in the comments if you still have questions you would like answered.
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Join Your Local Homeschool Group
Joining your local homeschool group is my top piece advice for people who are just starting off homeschooling. Facebook is full of groups, but try an internet search of your county or town plus homeschool group to find other groups as well.
Talk to Your Local School District
Every state and every country has its own homeschool rules. Talk to your school district to find out the basics. Then check whatever they say with your local homeschool groups, because school districts are not experts in homeschooling.
If you’re lucky, your school district may allow homeschoolers to access their extracurricular events or particular classes without having to send your child to school all day every day.
Go Solo or Get Help
You can go solo as a homeschooler. I prefer to get help. I actually enroll my children in the Ocean Grove Charter School. They assign a teacher who partners with me to make sure we are keeping up with state standards. They also offer funding to purchase homeschool supplies. The disadvantage of this approach, of course, is that I have to answer to them and follow their rules. For me, it’s worth the trade off, but for other parents it isn’t worth it.
Finding the right curriculum often feels overwhelming. Start at a company like Timberdoodle that curates options for you.
Companies like Outschool make it easy to share the teaching load with professional educators from the comfort of your home.
Look Into Funding Options
See if you can join a charter school like ours that offers funding for some school materials. Homeschool curriculum is often expensive!
In our current shelter in place situation, more and more parents are banding together to create their own mini homeschool communities. This way you can pool funds for online classes, supplies, or even in person teachers.
Local homeschool groups often offer homeschool material swap days, where you can pick up homeschool curriculum for free or close to nothing. Many blogs (this one included) offer a range of materials at low cost or for free.
Set up a Homeschool Space
If you have enough space in your home, create a dedicated homeschool room. We don’t have space for this in our house, so each of my children has a homeschool cart where we store their materials. They do most of their work at the dining room table, but sometimes they opt to work in their rooms or even outside instead.
Don’t Expect to Copy a School Day
A homeschool day should not look like a regular school classroom day. Set a homeschool schedule that works for your family. If your kids do best in the morning, finish your work early. If they want to sleep in, why not let them? You’ll get your productive morning, and then you can homeschool in the afternoon.
You can also decide if you want to do a little bit of every subject every day or if you want to make some subjects happen for longer amounts of time less often. I do recommend completing subjects where repetition is helpful – like math and languages and writing – on a daily basis.
Frequent Homeschooling Issues
Homeschooling is rewarding, but it’s also a lot of work! Here are some ways to deal with a few common issues.
What to do When You Can’t Afford to Homeschool
Having money definitely helps when it comes to homeschooling! Go to homeschool materials swaps, and make sure you aren’t missing a charter school that could offer valuable funding.
Take advantage of the many lesson plans and activities that are available for free on the internet. And don’t forget to use your local library!
How Are Working Parents Supposed to Homeschool?
This one is hard! Try to make your children as self sufficient as possible. I find that it works well if I work on my work at a table while they work on their schoolwork right next to me.
See if you can pair up with another homeschooling family to share the teaching load.
Homeschooling When You Are Sick
Fact: students often don’t learn much when the teacher is out sick in school. Your homeschool children will survive if you need to give them a movie day from time to time.
I do recommend keeping your homeschool children as independent as possible. This way if you are sick for an extended time they can still keep learning. And even if it’s just for a day or two they will benefit from the structure of continued homeschooling.
Homeschooling with a Baby or Toddler
Babies and toddlers find homeschooling fascinating, and they want to be right in the middle! This can be very frustrating when you are trying work with an older child.
Whenever possible, set the baby or toddler up with their own activity next to you while you help the older child. Toddlers appreciate school materials that look like their older siblings’, even when they can’t complete the materials correctly. Let the kids run a little baby school for their younger children. The baby loves it, it encourages sibling bonding, and it even builds emotional intelligence for both children.
How to Homeschool When a Child Hates School
This can be very stressful! Let your child take control of as much of their learning as possible. Maybe they still need to learn that subject they are currently resisting, but they can choose what time of day they work on it.
Involve your child as much as possible in selecting classes and curriculum. Consider pairing up with another homeschool friend to provide some peer learning motivation.
Enjoy the Journey!
Homeschooling is definitely a journey! I can guarantee that some days will be very hard, but others will be incredibly rewarding. Take this time as an opportunity to enjoy more time with your children, and see if you can discover a few of their talents and passions along the way.
What are your top tips for someone who is just getting started homeschooling?
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MaryAnne lives is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.