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The 1st 10 steps to homeschooling

Gia D Gallegos·Saturday, June 11, 2016

How do I get started homeschooling? Before you ever shop for curriculum... #ABCsofHomeschooling

Question #1 from new homeschoolers is: What curriculum do you use (or where do you buy your curriculum)?

Answer: This is *not* step 1.

#1: First, you would do well to seriously consider not only what your reasons are for homeschooling, but also your end goal. If you are afraid of something horrible happening at school, so you're keeping your child home to protect their very life or just their morals or religious views, your homeschooling will look different from someone who chose homeschooling because they have a child learning at an accelerated pace, who will likely graduate from an ivy league school before age 18. Just some random examples. But why you will homeschool is possibly more important than How. Then consider if you are trying to help a struggling learner gain confidence and competence vs. helping an average speed learner prepare for college vs. equipping a skilled-trade-oriented learner to support herself and start a business in adulthood. If you always dreamt of being a teacher and now is your big chance to have your own home classroom, you will make different choices than someone who is giving up a career in business because a child with special needs isn't getting sufficient attention from the school system. So, be sure you are planning to educate the actual child(ren) you have, and not some imagined child (This is not condescension. It's far more common than we like to admit).

#2: Take some time to define what you think school should be doing and achieving, and what success would look like for not only you, but also your child. If you define success as graduation and college admission, fine. Is it middle class earning and living? Is it an advanced degree from a prestigious school? Is it sports scholarship/pro sports career? Entrepreneurial? Performing Arts? Your family should know that target. What do you think is the purpose of education? Is that the same thing as “school?” You need to know where you’re aiming, and what methods will get you closest to the target. Define for yourself. It would be wise to actually write this down on a piece of paper and keep it handy. After that, move to step

#3: which I believe, is figuring out what style suits you and what (or whether a) schedule will work for your family. Look among the categories of Unit Studies, Classical Education, Charlotte Mason, Waldorf or Montessori, Unschooling, Thomas Jefferson or Traditional school-classroom-at-home.

#4: Then, determine your budget. Try to stick to it. Don't be distracted by the shiniest, newest package or box. It’s ok to spend what fits into the budget on supplies, materials, lessons, tutors, etc. But remember, your child can be properly educated without a mountain of debt looming over the household because someone guilted you into overspending to prove your priorities.

#5 Then, decide if you prefer online learning, hands-on, or lecture and workbook...traditional textbooks or living books, classical, videos of instructors, etc. Is that preference shared by your child(ren)?

#6: Next, decide if your materials will be secular or religious. This can cut down the over 2,500 curriculum provider choices by up to half right here. It might seem obvious to you, but do you prefer secular or religious science? Is memorizing Bible passages important to you? Would you prefer heavy classical sources, Latin language, Greek philosophy...

#7: Now you are finally ready to BEGIN shopping for curriculum. Or not. Maybe you prefer to come up with your own materials. You can do that. You can even homeschool for free. Plenty of folks do. Depending on your style and preferences, start to search the internet for your key words. Ask experienced homeschoolers with children of similar age/situation for their preferences and then research them. Search the internet for curriculum shares or homeschooling conventions near you. Curriculum providers can furnish a grade-level boxed set for you. But, you can also shop places like Homeschool Buyers Co-Op, Educents, or CurrClick for single subjects. You can try to focus on library materials, used bookstores, Facebook groups selling used curriculum, or local parent co-op classes, lessons and even tutors. Almost anything can be learned on YouTube. Depending on the age of your child and your preferences, you can pick up a workbook, flashcards, puzzles, games and art supplies at Walmart. That might be exactly what you need to begin.

#8: No matter which choices you make, if you decide to homeschool, get ready to WORK. There is no substitute for your own research and development. You will need to keep learning through the entire process. You might need to learn child development and homeschool styles while you learn patience and even Chemistry or Algebra. Read. Study. Research. It's your responsibility, and you can't wait for someone to tell you what to do. Take initiative. Homeschooling is not a “drop off” proposition. No one cares about your child the way you do. So, expect to spend a lot of time and energy with your family, working, talking, leading, learning.

#9: Begin to develop your support system. It's difficult to do this all alone. And it doesn't have to be like that. If your spouse or in-laws or neighbors aren't with you in this, find someone who will be. Online friends are great. But you will also need friends to meet with you and encourage you and make suggestions and share your victories. And you will want places to take your kids where they won't be the only children in the place. At least sometimes. can help you with that.

#10 Of course, you can skip all that and go straight to a homeschool convention, drop thousands of dollars on a box of stuff, and then try to force it to work. Who knows? Maybe it might. Or you can pick and choose the advice above that you feel like trying. It's your family. It's your choice. You *will* change your mind, make mistakes, learn, and even shift as the seasons of your family shift, and your child(ren) age(s). You'll get better every year, and you'll still have doubts and insecurities sneak up on you. But if you keep at it, you will make it. You can do it.

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