Homeschooling is becoming more popular every year. Many parents are deciding they are capable of teaching their own children instead of sending them off to school. There are a variety of reasons this option is chosen and every state has its own rules for how to do it legally. Figuring out state laws is important before making the decision to teach at home. However, there are many elements of homeschooling that are not based on law. Knowing how to get started with homeschooling is the first step into an exciting adventure for the entire family.
First, discuss the reasons for homeschooling with each other. Decide if the commitment is there to teach and why. Homeschooling takes some getting used to as the children are present all day every day. It is a lot of work to teach children and is not something to take lightly. If they have previously been in school, this can be an adjustment for everyone. This decision should not be made because of one bad experience or angry feelings. Those pass away and are not strong enough to base such an important decision. If everyone is on board with homeschooling, the next step is to figure out how to teach.
Each child in the family is an individual, with differing personalities, opinions, strengths and weaknesses. The effectiveness of education is based on how well the material is taught by the teacher and understood by the student. This can only be accomplished if the education is individualized. Therefore, it’s important to understand which child learns visually and which one has to read for himself instead of being read to. This helps the parent choose a curriculum based on how each child processes information.
While this may sound like a complicated process, it is actually simple. Videos can be found on any topic for free on the Internet. Pick a topic that is unfamiliar to the child and find a couple of videos that explain it. Also, find a few sites where the child can read about the same topic. Try reading it to her, then have her read it independently. Print a few worksheets on the topic. If available, find some hands-on activities for the subject. Have her use the available material, testing her after using each medium to see what she understood. It will be easy to tell based on her interest and comprehension which medium helps her process the most information. This is the child’s learning style.
After the learning style of each child has been determined, curriculum can be chosen. There are many options available based on the family’s budget and teaching methods. Some children do quite well with independent work and don’t require a lot of interaction to understand the material or to complete it in a timely manner. These children do best with a self-guided, boxed curriculum that is based on workbooks. There are many options available online ranging from free to subscription-based curriculum that provides interactive, visual teaching material. Unit studies are a great way to incorporate many children in the family at various grade levels. Topics are chosen with work for all ages. Lessons start out with everyone together before branching off to do the grade appropriate work individually.
The final step before filing with the state and beginning the adventure is to organize a plan. Most parents set up a calendar they will follow regarding which days and times they will conduct school. This helps keep everyone on task while providing structure for the children. Some families conduct school all year with a few breaks here and there while others stick to a traditional school schedule. After the calendar is established, set up lesson plans. These can be done on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Decide which lessons will be taught and when. It is helpful to have the material organized in this manner so that half of each day is not being spent looking for the lessons. This is where extracurricular activities and field trips can be worked in to the schedule to coincide with the topic being studied that day or week. After all of these steps are in place, it is time to start learning at home.
Having a basic plan to follow will help the home school get off to a great start. Knowing how each child learns, what curriculum to use and forming a basic daily schedule helps things flow more easily, freeing time to actually teach and learn together. Remember that the best part of homeschooling is flexibility to change these things at any time. Planning should only be used as a basic blueprint for how the school will be conducted, but it is not meant to be strictly followed.