So you’re thinking about homeschooling. Welcome! Anytime you take a step off of the path of familiarity/tradition it can be overwhelming and terrifying. Or, it can be invigorating and exciting! You have chosen to challenge yourself, to grow and to learn something. Hopefully, this will be an exhilarating learning experience for you!
Maybe…what you’ll learn is that you hate homeschooling your kids. Ha!
Or… maybe you’ll learn that you love it.
Maybe you’ll learn more about how your children learn, and you will be able to help them understand difficult concepts better when they go back to public school.
Maybe you will gain a greater appreciation for public school teachers who are handed 20-30+ kids to teach and minimal funding/help to do it.
You are choosing to do something different, and whatever happens, you will learn something from it. So, now that you’re considering homeschooling, let me share with you the steps I wish someone had given me when I first started my homeschool journey over 5 years ago.
STEP #1: Breathe.
First, if you haven’t done this yet, do it now. Deep breaths. Taking a few seconds to inhale and exhale deeply can really help ground you and clear your mind when you’re feeling overwhelmed. It may seem like a no-brainer, but I wish someone had suggested this to me at my peak of overwhelm. I really could have used a good breathing session.
STEP #2: Self-talk.
Second, tell yourself you CAN do this. Say it out loud, even if you feel crazy. “I can do this.” Because it’s true. You absolutely CAN do this. If this is something that you really want to do, you can do this.
Think for a minute.
Who is better equipped to teach your child than you? No one.
Who knows your child better than you do? No one.
Who cares more about their success and their education than you? No one.
Because you care, because you love them, because you know them, you can do this. Trust me.
STEP #3: Purge your brain.
Take everything you know about education….and throw it out the window. Ok, not everything. If you went to public school, as I did, you probably should just take most of that and throw it out. The model of public school fits very well with some learning styles, and I will admit, it seemed to fit my own learning style well. However, now that I’m homeschooling my own children, I’m amazed at the depth we can get to! I also love that we can vary our pace depending solely on my child’s desire and aptitude for each subject. We take it slow when we struggle and move quickly when it all clicks.
Homeschooling definitely can, if you want it to, replicate public school at home. But, it absolutely DOES NOT have to look anything like public school. I am currently homeschooling a 3rd grader, 1st grader and early preschooler with a toddler tagalong. This is our 5th year homeschooling, and our days have never looked like my days of public school. My kids are still elementary-school age, so once they get to middle school or high school, there will likely be a lot more formal sit-down type of education. Although, I’m sure it will still be SO much different than my own high school experience.
Now that you’re choosing to homeschool, YOU get to decide how to teach/have them learn something because there are so many ways to do so. Do not get caught up in recreating public school at home! Do what works for you!
STEP #4: De-school.
If you’re coming from public school, take time to “de-school” your kids. Consider taking a hiatus from everything FORMAL SCHOOL. You can go out in nature, play at the park, read out loud to your kids, have them read to you, sing songs, play games, watch “educational” shows/documentaries, or paint/color/draw. Just reset for a minute and reconnect with your children. It may feel like your child is getting behind, but their class size just went from 30 kids to however many kids are in your family. They will be getting a lot more personalized attention and instruction, and they will eventually settle in just where they should be.
STEP #5: Logistics.
Now… the logistics. First, check out your state’s homeschool regulations. An easy place to start is by going to hslda.org. You can look up your state and see exactly what they require you to do as a homeschooling family. Some states require notice to the district. Alternatively, some require a parent to have a college degree or other certification. There are also states where you are required to keep records, meet a certain number of hours and/or teach certain subjects, etc. Look up your state’s guidelines, and go from there.
While you’re doing this, try to keep a cool head and an open mind. Especially if you live in a state with higher regulation. Don’t freak out. It often sounds A LOT harder than it actually is.
STEP #6: Curriculum! Yay!
Once you’ve figured out if there are any requirements of subjects you need to teach, start looking at some curriculum. (Yay! This is the fun part!) You can go to Cathy Duffy Reviews or Rainbow Resource to get some ideas on what’s available. You could also just do a web search for “2nd grade math homeschool curriculum” or whatever subject you’re looking for.
There are so many options out there for homeschoolers! You can find programs that are done completely online. There are also all-in-one packages where you just purchase a grade level package and it has everything you need. You can even mix and match what you like, or just check out books from the library and read to your kids.
Do whatever you feel comfortable with.
If you know your child’s learning style, you can also search for curriculums that cater to that. Does your child tend to learn well by listening? Or by seeing? Or by moving/playing? You can consider your child’s tendencies and search for curriculums based around that. Don’t get hung up on nailing their learning style though because it can be hard to identify. Especially in the younger years, you may just want to try out different things and see what works and what doesn’t.
My two school-age children both learn in completely different ways and have different strengths and weaknesses. I find myself constantly modifying and trying different things as I try to whittle down to what works best for each child individually. It’s a process, but once you get there, it’s magic! I will be sharing some of our curriculum choices over the next month so you can get a peek and see if something might work for your family!
STEP #7: Relax and enjoy the journey.
There are so many things that you will learn and circle back as you homeschool. Don’t worry about doing it all or fitting in every single subject every single day. (We have yet to do all subjects in a single day!) Don’t worry about nailing your child’s learning style before you even start or getting the absolute best curriculum fit right off the bat! Even using a curriculum that isn’t the right fit can be a blessing because it will show you what’s not working, and you will know what to avoid when you try something else.
If you have more than one child, consider “family schooling” for subjects like history and science. You can supplement with more or less info for older or younger kids. You will find your groove and things will start to click. Even four whole years in, we still make tweaks and change things up (often!) as we adapt to our ever-changing life circumstances. Assume you won’t get it right your first time and be ready to adapt!
There are so many resources available now to homeschoolers and I am going to be sharing everything that we have used and tried over the last four years throughout the coming weeks. So follow along for specific recommendations! I also post on Instagram and have some highlights saved there with a look inside the curriculums we use, what we have used to teach our kids to read, organization tips and other learning activities and resources.
A Few More Considerations
Here are a few additional steps to consider as you start on this journey:
- Reach out to other homeschool families you know, locally or online.
- Find some homeschool blogs, Instagram accounts, Youtube channels and follow along for a minute. You can gain a wide perspective of all of the different styles and curriculums by checking out several different viewpoints.
- Join a local co-op or homeschool group.
I hope this is helpful to you, and I hope that you can find peace and joy as you embark on this journey of homeschooling (however long it may be!) There is so much to learn here for you and your children, and you can do this! Though I’m not an “expert”, we have four whole years under our belt, so feel free to reach out with any questions you have!
Hang in there, mama! You got this!