The time has come! I have had several questions about how to start homeschooling! I understand that this is a huge step and it is mixed with excitement and some nervousness. But let’s address some of the question that are asked a well as some recommended resources.
First things first, what are your state requirements! Best place to check this out is https://hslda.org/content/. This is a homeschool legal defense website. Not only do they have the state requirements here, for an annual fee, you can become a member and receive these benefits (taken from the HSLDA website)
HSLDA members receive unique services, special discounts, and personal advice to support and equip their family’s homeschool program. Members have direct access to:
Lawyers who focus on homeschool law and are homeschooling parents
Preschool–8th and high school consultants
Special needs consultants
Forms and sample letters for your state
Advice for DMV and work permits
PerX discounts on nationwide products and services
Ok, now you know what you need to do, lets talk curriculum. So exciting and terrifying. I get it. First of all, much depends on your children’s needs and grades. MANY homeschool curriculum websites offer a free “placement test” so you can gauge your child’s needs based on how they score on a simple online test. Generally this is for math, however, I have seen it for spelling and grammar.
Insofar as WHAT kind of curriculum you should get, a lot of that is going to depend on your family and it’s set up. Some parents LOVE that their kids and pop in a CD into the computer and have the lessons taught to the student. Other’s prefer more hands on approach. Some have more time (cough, cough,) and some have less time to give each child a specific amount of time. So, once you have figured out a GREAT TIME MANAGEMENT routine for your family (pssst, might I recommend this article and this book?) then you can assess what kind of curriculum would work best for your family.
One thing I noticed is that as much of a HANDS-ON type of mother I am, if every piece of curriculum I have is dependent on my being able to teach my student each and every day, and even with applying the Charlotte Mason principles of keeping the lessons short, you are looking at 15 minutes per subject, multiplied by 7 subjects, multiplied by 4 students, and they can’t all be taught at the same time (we’ll get back to this more in a minute). So, I have to figure out the subjects I do want to spend more one on one with my student and weed out the rest to have it be more student led. In the end, the ultimate goal is to teach the child be able to learn on his own– that is a life skill the student needs— but let’s not worry about that right now.
Ok, so, what will that look like for you? RESEARCH! There is a meme floating around that says, “mother’s do more research than the F.B.I.” How true is this! Especially when there is SO MUCH CURRICULUM to choose from! Go on YouTube, hear what other’s mothers are learning about their curriculum and go from there (great time to do this is while you are making dinner and other household chores). This is also a great time to interject that just because some subjects are more student led, doesn’t mean that you will never get a question. It just means that the instructions given to the student within the subject texts are more for the student but comprehension might be needed for you to present to your student.
Now that we are ready to curriculum shop I NEED to stress something: if you are a new homeschooler, it is CRUCIAL to keep things AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE. Sorry, I don’t mean to sound like I am yelling. I just really want to make sure with all the information being taken in that that stands out to you. The more you can combine, THE BEST! With multiple students you can use subjects together. Specifically I am thinking history, science, bible (if you are intending to include that), and to a certain extent some language arts (things like narration and dictation can be based on level rather than more curriculum in the house).
I am going to suggest a couple curriculum here. These are mainly to get you started and while there are some homeschoolers that don’t really care for them, there is a larger number of ones that do. FOR THIS TIME PERIOD, because this is a transitional time, I would recommend getting them and doing them until you feel comfortable in your homeschool journey.
Story of the World vol. 1-4 (and even if you did not want to read, you can get the audio!) You have your spine, and then you have the teacher books and the student activity and test booklet. Rainbow Resource has a basic package and if you have a copy machine or free access to one, you can decide which copies to make, however I do believe everyone doing the map work. Coloring pages are optional. If you do not have access to a copy machine, I have found it cheaper to actually just purchase the extra student packets you will need. You do NOT do all 4 volumes in one year. You do one or two depending on how ambitious you are.
To increase in spelling, vocabulary, and reading can I just say, READ, READ, and READ! Audio books are my one weakness and I do love to play them often, especially when we are going around town but it does not show how certain words are spelled. While some parents struggle with the language in this series, I highly recommend them because it is a great introduction to some strong vocabulary words of yesteryear, while the author’s wit makes them more understandable in our language of today. However, PINTEREST is filled with ideas for grade level reading. I also have a blog post. Looks like its time to put together a printable for you all.
Science. I will be approaching this from a biblical point of view. If you need a secular approach, BookShark is highly recommended for their literature based approach to school and we are currently testing out their Level 5 Health and Human Anatomy. Because of the nature of the body, you can probably use this for multiple students but discretion is advised for you younger students. Another option is: https://www.pandiapress.com/real-science-odyssey/ However, I haven’t used them and I do not know how well this would work for multiple students and grades
However, I have really enjoyed the Apologia Science for Elementary Years. I love these because I have been able to use them with my kindergartner all the way to my 6th/7th grader. They have notebooking journals that you can purchase, however I just used a composition notebook and we narrated every lesson. This way each grade could do what they were capable and not exceeding expectations. The only one I have found to be a bit difficult or dry in teaching was the Botany one. I would recommend using that last with your older grades.
Those are just a few suggestions. I love working with as much of the child as I can but I do need to let them learn how to learn as much as I can. 😉
Don’t fear if you don’t hit every subject every day. Aim for what you can but have an ending time to your day. Some parent have been surprised that they finished before noon while others are still trying to wrap up by dinner time. And this includes both seasoned homeschoolers and well as beginners. Have a cut off. Aim for the important subjects first, takes some wiggle time to run and enjoy being a homeschooler! Snack! Outside game of basketball or simon says, or even pull out a game and enjoy it for an hour or so. We love Wildcraft but Scrambled States of America or Timeline might be a fun one too.
Another thing needed to be addressed is grading and saving work. I am beginning this journey myself because in the past all I did was just keep working with the student on the things we got wrong rather than focusing on a 2 out of 20 wrong score. I didn’t want them to settle for a B when we could just learn the lesson and do our best and work towards excellence. I found a couple videos on Youtube that I think will help you a lot as they have inspired me. This one is for more upper grades but can be used with the lower grades, and this is from a homeschool guru mom that is wonderful in keeping things simple and complete.
Finally, have some self-confidence. You will see where your child is struggling and be able to figure out how to address it because it won’t just be an incorrect mark on the page. You will be able to go through the work with the child from start to finish. There is a plethora of Homeschooling Facebook groups for encouragement and help. There are For Sale or Trade groups where you can purchase gently used curriculum as well as sell some the items that maybe didn’t work or you are through with. This is also a great time to know that you get to learn along with your child. Even with having what I consider an excellent homeschool education, I am still learning day by day as I teach my own children about life, how the earth works, how generations have lived, and so much more. If you go into this with fear and intimidation, or at least having it written all over your face, then there is a good chance you will have a rocky start. Children pick up on that and will react to it one way or another. Fake enthusiasm doesn’t build up confidence either. Be honest, but don’t show timidity. And really, you really can do this. It will be hard, but you can. You take care of all their needs. How is this any different other than the fact that you haven’t done it before? It’s like exercising– you will build up those teaching skills the more you use them.
I would like to end on one more note: in regards to household management– keep everything simple. It might be time to put away DVD’s, electronic devices, and other things that disrupt this time. Meals do not need to be elaborate because your children are at home or that you have decided to eat around the world in trying to incorporate as much in your homeschool day. Simple. Simple. Simple. Try to clean up as you go along so that by the end of the school day you are not too worn out for the other things that need to be taken care of. Too often I fall into this trap myself. Do not try to build your homeschool library and resources all this year. Figure out what will work best for your family and do it bit by bit.
Hope this is helpful. Keep calm and homeschool on!
The purpose of this post was to help get everything down to basics for the mom that does not have time to read all the books out there on homeschooling. However, if you do have 10-15 minutes each night before bed, or in the wee hours of the morning before the darlings are up, might I suggest that you read this book? Or this one?