Welcome to this new journey! Here are a list of a few initial resources to check out as you begin to formulate a plan for the year (or semester or in this next moment as you wrap your mind around the idea of being the primary educator for your children). Remember, you have likely been teaching your children thus far (think: teaching them to tie their shoes, use the toilet, ride a bike, interact with others etc.) and educating them at home (helping them with school projects or homework in the evening, teaching them shapes or colors etc.). I hope you find this a helpful springboard as you navigate this exciting (or overwhelming?) journey called “homeschooling.”
HOMESCHOOLING: GETTING STARTED
Check this out, HSLDA has compiled and organized a wealth of information right here from: planning, curriculum, organization, testing and more – all in one place! This is a great starting point for the questions that you probably already have right here: https://hslda.org/content/earlyyears/StartHere.asp
Know the laws and other specifics for your area
Where you live matters so please read below if you reside in Virginia and skip down if you live outside of Virginia.
**Do you live in Virginia, USA?
If you live in Virginia, this is a great place to begin! HEAV (Home Educators Association of Virginia) https://heav.org/begin-homeschooling/how-to-start-homeschooling-in-virginia/ If you prefer to talk to someone or to meet in-person with a “professional” or “veteran” homeschooler for help or advice feel free to go by their office in Richmond, VA or call (804)278-9200. Consider joining HEAV as well. Why? Other than having access to all they have to offer for you (see here) remember they are on the front lines by helping to monitor and advocate on our behalf in the Virginia assembly as decisions are made regarding our children’s education. We must protect the freedoms to homeschool that we currently have here in Virginia as new laws are presented and passed (or stopped). We can do this by faithfully continuing to support the work that HEAV does through membership (see here).
**Do you live outside of Virginia?
This here can point out a state specific (or country specific) resource for you to get started with the specific laws regarding homeschooling in your area. Try using the map to display more organizations near you.
Which curriculum should I use
There is no way that anyone else can answer this question for you. This is one of the beauties of homeschool! I know it may take some getting used to, especially if the idea of being responsible for educating your children seems a bit daunting (or even paralyzing), that you choose your own style and method and curriculum for homeschooling. It probably feels a bit overwhelming because you want to do a good job and you don’t want to ruin your children’s lives! HAHA. I’m laughing because I’ve also felt this way. Thoughts like, “Am I qualified to teach my children?” (YES, ABSOLUTELY you are! Remember you’ve done it before and you can do it again! Not only that, but YOU are invested in your children for LIFE! The hard work that you are doing now will reap its rewards later and that is something to look forward to!) “What if I’m not that excited about [insert subject here i.e. calculus]? How in the world can I teach them if I (feel like) I don’t know what I’m doing!?” (Remember, just like with anything else that you didn’t know how to do but it needed to get done – how did you do it? You got help! You asked someone who knew what to do! You hired someone (you can get tutors or use the method of curriculum that teaches it for you-think DVD, online instruction, step-by-step manual). You figured it out on your own (researched or studied it yourself). You CAN do this and there are many others before you who have as well and their children have grown to become successful and [insert other goals for your children here] adults. Seriously!
Click the title for an overview of the different learning approaches, costs, and questions to consider as you begin exploring, “What curriculum should you use“? (Also, try searching for “homeschool methods/ approaches” or the type of method that interests you (or would be best for your child – it could be different!) and read information on that as well.)
This I would say is the GO-TO initial reference for all types of curriculum reviews! Cathy Duffy has a very organized and easy to use website. You can research curriculum by subject, “top picks” or by searching for the name if you already know what you’re looking for. https://cathyduffyreviews.com/
Help (and friends) Wanted
Join and participate in a local support group! Why? It’s a great way to meet other families for ideas, advice, friends and encouragement!! I am a member of (and serve in) these groups as I live near Fort Lee, Virginia, USA:
- Tri-Cities Home Educators (public site here). New memberships usually open in August; the cost to join has been $25 per family for the school year.
- Unity Homeschool Group (once-a-month during the school year activities / outings) Typically held the 1st Friday of each month during the school year, check back later for details. Free or very low cost.
- There are many others too – ask around on social media for help with what you are looking for. Try using Facebook and type in “your city + homeschool” and you may find groups near you to post and ask questions. I bet you will get some ideas and resources quickly!
Audio (and printed articles) of the Homeschool Solutions morning show hosted by Pam Barnhill on various topics on homeschooling. This is great to listen to while you are exercising or washing dishes 🙂 for new ideas and encouragement from other homeschoolers in an interview style format.
Free resource : the library
Your local library (or friends from local support groups) likely has resources you can check out to help you wrap your mind around this new journey for you and your family. Sometimes reading about someone else’s journey can help you remember that you are not alone. I can’t seem to remember which book I had that I thought was great (I gave it to someone to borrow, but didn’t get it back – how sad! But oh well, I don’t need it now as I’m trying really hard to declutter!) Looking around, I did find that I own “Taking charge of your child’s education” by Confessions of a Homeschooler. I know her website has lots of info on it that may be helpful, like this one, “Homeschooling 101-Getting started.” I agree that you definitely want to remember (write it down even) WHY you are homeschooling. It may help to reflect on that when you inevitably have a hard day. Remember, it’s normal to have a hard day! You’ve had them before you decided to homeschool too, am I right?
We plan to go to the library every week. It is a great way to get out of the house and study or check out a bajillion new books (we LOVE reading here), CD’s, and DVD’s. The library also has activities for all ages and if they are cool like ours, they even have events geared specifically for homeschoolers during the day to attend!
Letter of Intent submission (for those in Virginia)
Don’t forget to go by your local school board and submit your letter of intent to homeschool BEFORE the August 15th deadline (if you live in Virginia)!! Detailed information is here! https://heav.org/begin-homeschooling/notice-of-intent/.
The children aren’t the only ones learning and growing
This journey will shape YOU as you are confronted with areas within your own self that you too may need to work on (i.e. anger management, patience, keeping priorities straight etc.). It is okay to ask for help and invite others in your life to encourage one another and share ideas. I’ve found many struggles in homeschooling are common in talking with other new and veteran homeschoolers in our different activities and support groups. There has been a great benefit to the work that we have done that has impacted our entire family for the better. I am thankful for our decision to have homeschooled our children. I’ll share how we got here and our vision for our children next time!
Remember, you are not alone. The Lord is with you and He knows your children’s future (actually He knows them better than YOU do) so it is good to remember to make time to seek His will in this daily.
-Free curriculum here (also I just love their story).
–Join (and support) the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) as they work to provide homeschool legal support and other resources. Read about them here. Remember, they have already compiled a wealth of information here.
If this has been helpful for you, please pass this on!
I’d love to hear how the journey is going for you! Which resources do YOU use and would recommend to others who are just getting started? Let’s keep in touch! #thisishomeschool
Read more about homeschooling here.