Homeschooling Road Map (How to Start Homeschooling)
HOMESCHOOLING ROAD MAP
As a long time homeschooler, I have been approached by many this summer asking for help getting started on this journey. I understand the decisions we as parents are faced with are tough right now, and really there is no right answer for everyone. I thought I would hop back on this blog (I've mainly been over on Instagram) and create a place for people to come to map out what their next steps should be. I hope this helps and if you have any questions PLEASE reach out to me. I am here to help. We have to support each other through these unprecedented times.
So without further ado....here we go
Good news.... homeschooling is LEGAL in all 50 states! Now, the rules and regulations you have to follow differ by state, but in every state YOU CAN HOMESCHOOL YOUR CHILD.
STEP 1- Know your state laws and notify your state as needed.
The first thing you need to do is figure out the rules of your state. If your child has been enrolled in school in the past- you are probably going to need to notify someone that you are removing them. I've homeschooled in 4 states so far, each with a different requirement. If you have questions about your specific state, let me know and we will work together to figure it out.
So how do you find out YOUR STATE'S rules... follow the links below.
-NOTE- While a great many people use HSLDA's site and will often tell new homeschoolers they NEED to join HSLDA for protection, they are a Christian organization and you do not need to join in order to homeschool. Look into what policies and legislation they support. If they do not align with your values, it's okay not to join. You do not need this group to homeschool. If you follow the laws of your state, you are very unlikely to run into any difficult situation. That being said, they do have a very good overview of each states’ regulations, so I am including them as one of the links.
Okay now you've figured out your state's laws and have submitted a notice of intent to homeschool or whatever else is needed... what's next?
STEP 2- Curriculum
You’re probably saying about now, how do I even go about knowing what to teach my child or how to teach my child? Maybe you are even saying I can’t teach my child upper level science, math, writing, whatever subject you aren’t great at yourself. Well that's where choosing curriculum comes in and good news, lots of them will even do the teaching for you.
First, let’s examine WHY you are planning on homeschooling. That is going to play a HUGE role into how you approach this coming school year.
Let's face it- there is a large chance you are reading this right now because of Covid, and that's okay. I welcome you with open arms and will be here cheering you on all year as you travel down this unexpected path.
Maybe though, you've been considering homeschooling for a while, and this now just feels like a great time to begin, that will also have an impact on how you go about homeschooling this year.
If you are planning to re-enter school once the pandemic is over- it may be best to follow your states standards as closely as possible. You can find these with a quick google search. If your child is in 3rd grade- you will want to make sure that you cover the third-grade math that is typically taught in their school. You may even want to use the same math curriculum the school is using. Remember though- this year will be normal for NO ONE. No matter what you do, it will be highly unlikely your child will fall behind his or her peers in school.
For the most part though, try to remember this is an OPPORTUNITY. An opportunity to get to know how your child learns best, to let your child be themselves and work at there own pace. Very few children are exactly where a school expects a child of their grade to be. Each child has weakness and strengths, and this is your chance to watch them thrive with individualized attention and curriculum. Most homeschoolers, including myself, have children working on different grade levels across different subjects. That’s okay!
When choosing a curriculum, you need to ask yourself two things. How does my child learn best (online, through great literature, hands-on etc.) and do I want a secular or religious curriculum? Now you might be asking yourself what I mean. Well for years homeschooling has been dominated by conservative Christians, thus many of the curriculums that are well established are biblically based, contain bible verses, and either refute evolution and teach creationism, or do not cover the topic at all. What you choose, depends on what you are looking for in your homeschool. The great thing is that now days there are many more options so that you are likely to find something that fits with your world view.
Here's the basics of what you need to know....
-Not written from a religious worldview
-Only discussed religious beliefs from a historical or anthropological perspective. (This means they would treat for example, all creation stories equally, as myths important to a particular group of people, and not give any preference to Christian stories. This is also important in science curriculums. In a secular science curriculum, you will NOT see mention of the biblical creation story and age of the earth and evolution will be taught.
-Examples- Oak Meadow, Torchlight, Blossom and Root, Real Science Odyssey, History Quest, History Odyssey, Build Your Library
Faith Neutral Curriculums
-Mainly seen in history and science curriculums
-Either avoids controversial topics such as evolution and the age of the Earth or treats both faith based and science based assumptions as equal theories.
-They often say they are secular, but as they do not cover some major topics, many find they often fail in giving a solid foundation.
Examples- Bookshark, Real-Science-4-Kids, Supercharged Science
Faith Based Curriculums
-Focuses on religious views of the origin of earth and man.
-Often contain bible verses and stories about church and faith.
-Most teach creationism from the Christian Bible.
-Some teach young Earth creationism
Examples- Abeka, Sonlight, The Good and The Beautiful, Apologia
Step 3- Routine/A Homeschool Place/Motivation
Now you've ordered your curriculum and you're ready to get started. Do you set up desks and make a set schedule with time slots for each subject? Well that depends on you. You see, homeschooling is a completely different way to think about and approach education. You will find homeschoolers who range from radical unschoolers (allowing the child complete freedom to choose what they want to do in all aspects of their education and life) to school at home families (which follow a very school based approach with schedules, desks, workbooks and tests) to everything in between. This is not the classroom, so you do not NEED to recreate the classroom at home. Most homeschoolers find that since learning happens every day, everywhere, homeschooling gives them a freedom that they love. The freedom to cater to their child’s needs and the way they learn and find joy in being a family. Every seasoned homeschooler knows that there are days that just don’t go exactly as we plan, sometime more often than not, and that’s okay because learning is still happening. There are days when our kids have the grumps and we can press on and make a lesson drag on for hours, or shelve it for the day, get outside or pull out the board games, and bring out the lesson another day. For me, I find my attitude as a parent sets the tone for how the day goes. When I come into the day excited and remembering to see my kids as their own individual people, then the day goes much smoother.
Starting the homeschool journey is taking a leap of faith. It’s often recommended to spend time de-schooling before you begin homeschooling in earnest. This means basically taking a break from all structured learning and just enjoying being with your kids. It helps both you and your child break from the school mindset, however if you are only planning on homeschooling during this pandemic, then that may not be an option for you. Just know that there will be good days and tough days, flexibility is key. Your child, and your relationship with your child, is more important than any curriculum you choose. You do not have to follow any curriculum exactly to be successful at homeschooling. You will be amazed at what your child learns each day just living in the world with you.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can my homeschooled child go to college?
Of course! Colleges and Universities accept homeschoolers every year. In fact, many even seek out homeschoolers. Your child will need a transcript (that you create) as well as ACT/SAT scores if required by the institution.
How will my child earn a diploma? Do they need to take the GED?
In most states, you as the parent issue your child’s diploma and decide when you are ready to graduate them. Most states do not require your child to take the GED.
Does my homeschool curriculum need to be accredited?
Curriculum is NOT accredited. Accreditation only applies to schools- virtual or brick and mortar. You do NOT need an accredited school to homeschool. Choose your curriculum, keep records, make transcripts, and issue a diploma. Homeschool diplomas are legal and valid, just be aware of your states homeschool requirements.
How will my child socialize?
Well this is a pandemic and many people are keeping their children home this year to keep social distancing. So, remember this year will look different for everyone, but in a typical time, there are plenty of ways for homeschool children to socialize. Co-ops, homeschool art classes and clubs, music lessons, homeschool field trips, volunteer work, 4H, you name it, homeschoolers are doing it.
Can I homeschool for the year and put my child back in public school? Will the school accept my child’s work and place them appropriately?
You can always place your child back in public school, but only your school district can answer how they address placement. Some districts test children upon re-entry to see where they should place, others simply place by standard grade. It is important to note, that many districts do NOT accept high school homeschool credits and will require the student to begin in 9th grade despite the work they have completed at home. This is something to be very aware of in your consideration of homeschooling a high school student.
How do I teach my child subjects I do not know?
Many homeschoolers choose to utilize online classes, video/online computer-based programs, or co-op classes for those subjects they are not comfortable teaching. Now that my daughter is in high school, most of her classes are online or computer based.
My child doesn’t want to do their work/won’t listen to me as a teacher. How do I handle this?
Well this is an intense question with so many variables that it is difficult to answer. The age of the student and past experiences will play a roll. Is the curriculum you are using a good match to your child’s learning style? It is okay to change the curriculum or your approach to match the child. Have you and your child de-schooled or have you jumped right into home learning? Often coming right out of a stressful school experience into a home learning experience without de-schooling, you will see learning and school resistance. If your child is older, have you involved them in the planning of their year? Let them choose at least one or two courses that interest them. Let them look through curriculums and help choose what they want to do. Give them ownership of their education.
My child is gifted, behind, has special needs, etc., can I still homeschool?
Of course! The great thing about homeschooling is being able to meet your child where they are. You can accelerate the curriculum for a gifted child. You do not need to make them do pages upon pages of problems to show a concept that they already grasped. You can dive deeper and explore topics that they are interested in that may not have been covered in a typical school curriculum. If your child is “behind”, please remember that each and every child learns at their own pace. They are only “behind” by an arbitrary standard. Meet them where they are and watch them thrive! Many parents homeschool children with special needs. I recommend doing a facebook search and joining a group for your specific need. You will find innumerable support in online communities which will help you select a curriculum that will work for your child and his or her needs.
Curriculum is such a personal decision, and what works for me may not work for you and your family. I can only recommend curriculums that I have either used or extensively researched. There are SO many curriculums out there, feel free to research and find the one that is right for you!
ALL IN ONE CURRICULUMS (MAY OR MAY NOT INCLUDE MATH)
-Build Your Library
-Oak Meadow (you can enroll in the accredited school or purchase their curriculum and use on your own which is what I have always done.)
-Blossom and Root
-Moving Beyond the Page
-Moving Beyond the Page
-Right Start Math
-Math You See
-The Good and The Beautiful
-The Good and The Beautiful
-Excellence in Literature
-Spelling You See
-Learning Language Arts Through Literature
-Growing with Grammar/Soaring With Spelling/Winning with Writing
-All About Reading
-Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
-Story of the World
-Real Science 4 Kids
-R.E.A.L Science Odyssey
-Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding
-Blossom and Root
- Open Tent Academy
-Athena’s Advanced Academy
- Open Tent Academy
-Athena’s Advanced Academy