Homeschooling is one of the things I planned on doing since before I was even with my husband. And he agrees with me on the subject, we both went to public school and it was, in a word, hell for both of us. But enough of our experiences till a later time. But it was also because of those experiences, that made the decision to homeschool so much easier. I, like all parents, want what’s best for my child, and while that’s different for all parents, mine was the decision to homeschool any children I have.
The decision to homeschool is one that every family must make for themselves. It is not something that can be decided on a whim or flight of fancy. It takes some preparation, and discussions with your spouse/partner. To prepare, you must first find out about your state laws for homeschooling. Some states have stricter laws and require more from the family than others. These laws can be found with a quick search or Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has the information on their website. They have a fee for joining, but if you are a member and need legal help with homeschooling, they are an invaluable resource, check out their website for more information.
The next step would be to find a curriculum for your child/children. Let me warn you, there are probably thousands to choose from. You need to determine what you want then search for and read reviews on the ones you find. If religion is a must, then it may be easier to find something that fits. If you go with a more secular approach, it will be more difficult. The reason for this is that more families homeschool for religious reasons, so more curriculums were made to accommodate. I will be homeschooling in a secular fashion, but I have been looking at everything, I can always ignore the parts I won’t be teaching, like any included scripture work. That decision is yours and your family’s to make, everyone has the right to homeschool their children however they see fit.
The third step is to actually gather the resources. Whether its worksheets printed from online, purchasing books, or signing your child up for an online school, etc. This is the most expensive step. If you’re going to print off everything you need, you need a good laser printer and toner, while these are more expensive than inkjet printers, you will save more in the long run. An inkjet printer will give you about 100-200 pages printed before running out of ink, while a laser printer will give you about 1000+ before needing more toner. Again, do your research before buying the first printer you see. Another cost is books, some people prefer these since everything comes with it, little to no printing required. Be aware that all in one curriculums can be hundreds of dollars, it all depends on what you get. Also all children learn differently, so you may end up buying a curriculum that doesn’t work for one or more of your children, or some parts work better than others. Also consider photocopying workbook pages to use with multiple children or to resell later if needed. One of the more cost efficient methods would be signing your child up for an online school. The fees range from free and up. Your child would do all their work online, with some options to print additional resources. Sounds great right? Well if its free, then it might not have as much content as say a paid option, and if its a paid option, it might not work for your child.
Remember there is ALWAYS a chance you could lose money on a curriculum if it doesn’t work for your child. Always read reviews and try a sample first before jumping in whole hog.
Finally, stick with it! Somedays will be harder than others, but remember that by homeschooling you are giving your child a better chance to succeed in life. It is important to surround yourself with other like minded people. Don’t listen to the doubters, nay-sayers, or those who question your parental right to homeschool. A great option would be to join a homeschool co-op in your area if available. If there isn’t one available, consider creating one, some people just lack the initiative to start one if there isn’t one, so consider taking that initiative. It will help you find more people who are like minded, even if they homeschool a different way than you. If it is unfeasible to start a homeschool co-op or join one in your area, try an online co-op. Just a quick search will usually find online co-ops. Many of the homeschoolers there were once or still are in your shoes, so don’t be afraid to ask questions, most veteran homeschoolers love sharing their knowledge and experience.
As a parting note about homeschooling, I feel I must also mention something called Unschooling. Unschooling is when the parent does not use the previously stated resources and instead use the natural environment to teach their children. It is usually child lead, and follows what the child finds interesting, not what a book says they should learn. It is learning though play, experience, travel, social interactions, personal interests, and everyday responsibilities. It gives the parent and child more freedom to learn what is important and interesting to them. That’s not to say the parent has no say in it, but the parents’ role is more of a facilitator, they gather the resources needed for their child to learn more about a certain subject of interest. For instance, a child might be interested in learning art, it would then be the parents’ job to get the art supplies and resources for teaching different art styles, thus making learning art more enjoyable for the child. Research more about unschooling for yourself to see if its something you might wish to try. But you must also remember, certain state laws require certain subjects to be taught every year, so unschooling may not be a legal option for you depending on where you live.
Well this entry is getting rather long, I think I will end it here. This is by no means an all encompassing list of all the different ways to homeschool, nor all the resources available, nor even all the steps needed to start homeschooling, but it is a good place to start. You’ll find out more as you continue your own research, I know I am still learning. Good luck, and remember, Don’t give up, you can do this!