Are you switching to homeschooling from a public school? Having a plan and knowing what you want are crucial.
You‘ve decided to homeschool. Perhaps this is a decision you have struggled with for years, or perhaps it is based on a “last straw” event in your family’s current academic situation. Truthfully, how you got here doesn’t really matter. The question you need to ask is “Now what?” Where do you go to find resources, answers, encouragement?
That path is different for every homeschool parent. There is a tremendous spirit of collaboration in the homeschool community. We ARE the rising tide that raises all ships. We want our peers to succeed because, when we succeed, we create community and success for us all.
The laws are different for each state. Googling “how to homeschool in ___ state” gives you a wealth of resources. You can also Google local homeschool groups and cooperatives. Most organizations have someone who serves in the capacity of helping newbies get off the ground. I have found great resources with the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. Their wisdom and encouragement has been tremendous in our two decades of home education. Most importantly, do comply with your state’s laws regarding your homeschool launch.
Take a dispassionate look at what you want out of homeschooling. This is different for each one of us, but, as a homeschool mentor of mine used to quote, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” I hear new families say they know solidly what they DON’T want, but have not thought about what they DO want. Have a conversation, as a couple, as a family, about what you want school to be like and what your goals are. You may not have all the answers, and they’ll change over time, but, above all, get in the habit of having the discussion. Remember, this is YOUR homeschool – not your mother’s, not your neighbor’s, so decide what you want.
Recognize that your parental role is going to change; it will take time for your children to understand and acknowledge that. I have often said, “I am speaking as your instructor here, NOT your mother,” and vice versa. What is important is to know that you have habits from public school, and you will have to shed those habits and form new ones. It may take as long as a year before you have established those new habits. Be kind to yourself and your kids in the transition.
Use a calendar and plan the remainder of your academic year. Set a date by which you intend to complete your academics. You may miss it by a week or two, but I assure you, NOT setting it will prolong your school year indefinitely. For more on that subject, I encourage you to read this post on homeschool basics.
Find yourself a cheerleader. This is not always a family member. For several years I had encouraging friends who helped me stay encouraged. It took a long time for my family to understand that what we were doing had merit AND was worthwhile. Keep your expectations of your extended family low. They will come around, but it may take some time.
After 20+ years of home educating, I can honestly say many of the things we did were not wholly necessary, yet I have successfully graduated four homeschoolers who have gone on to college. What is necessary, you ask? In my opinion, math, spelling, writing, and reading. Everything else is an outgrowth of those subjects.
This year we have sixth- and twelfth-grade sons who are in public schools. Life is about change.
Homeschooling is as much a mindset as anything else. You have chosen a different path, and the final goal should be to raise a competent, independent adult. Your path will not be the same as your neighbor’s or your friend’s. It will be YOUR path, and I wish you the joy of the journey.