Now that the CDC has released guidelines for schools to reopen, many people are beginning to mention that they may want to homeschool. Deciding to homeschool can require a big leap of faith. When we decided to homeschool our kids way back in 2013, we talked and prayed about it endlessly. I wasn’t sure I could do it. But here we are, seven years later, still homeschooling two of our three kids. If you’re sitting where I was six years ago, here’s what you need to know if you’re planning to homeschool.
What You Need to Know If You’re Planning to Homeschool
If you’re brand new to the idea of homeschooling, these are the things you’ll want to consider:
What Are the Requirements for Your State?
Each state has different requirements for homeschoolers. For instance, in the state we used to live in, Illinois, I didn’t have to do anything to officially let the state know I was homeschooling my kids. Here in Arizona, I simply have to sign an affidavit. Both states are very easy to begin homeschooling in. However, other states like Pennsylvania have strict oversights. Homeschoolers must keep detailed records and keep a portfolio of student achievement. At the end of the year, the homeschool family has to hire an evaluator to approve their portfolios. Each state is different.
Ask People with Experience Homeschooling
Before you start homeschooling, talk to people with experience homeschooling. Ask them all the questions that you have and what techniques work best for them and why. If you don’t have a friend in real life who homeschools, the internet is full of bloggers who homeschool. Feel free to ask me. I’d love to answer your questions, as I’m sure would most homeschool bloggers.
Join Facebook Groups Before Buying Curriculum
When you’re brand new to homeschooling, trying to choose the right curriculum can be overwhelming. What I would recommend is to join a Facebook group for the curriculum that you’re considering. Read others’ comments and feel free to ask questions yourself.
I’d also recommend that you go with your gut and don’t get seduced into trying all the shiny new homeschool materials. We started our homeschool journey with Sonlight, which was a perfect fit for our family. For about the middle two or three years of our homeschooling experience, I tried many different curricula. But none fit us as well as Sonlight, so this year, we came back to Sonlight and are loving it.
Bottom line, when you find a curriculum that works, stick with it.
Make a Homeschool Routine
Homeschooling gives families enormous freedom, but make sure you do take the time to create a schedule. Now, I don’t mean a strict schedule that requires kids to wake up at 7 a.m., do English at 8 a.m., do math at 8:30 a.m., etc. If that kind of schedule works for you, okay, but mostly I mean create a routine.
For instance, in our house, we eat breakfast, then immediately begin reading our Sonlight readers. While I’m reading aloud, my girls do their morning chores–getting dressed, brush teeth, make beds, etc. Our house is arranged such that if I’m reading in the living room, they can hear me from their bedrooms. After that, the kids do Duolingo Japanese. Then, we have a small break while I clean the kitchen.
We don’t have a strict schedule, but we do have a routine, a rhythm we follow every day. Kids thrive on that.
Consider Reading Aloud Part of Your Routine
Finally, consider reading aloud as part of your routine. I cherish our read aloud times, and so do my girls. Recently, I’ve even found Bookworm sometimes listening in on our read aloud time. If you’re kids are not yet in middle school, their ages are perfect for starting this tradition. (If you’ve never really read aloud to your kids and they’re 12 or older, you may have a hard time getting this started.)
There is so much both kids and parents can learn from reading aloud. I consider this an essential part of our children’s education.
If you’re considering homeschooling for the first time, I know how difficult the decision can be to make. I hope this list of what you need to know if you’re planning to homeschool has helped. If you have any questions, I’d be delighted to hear from you.