Monday, February 1, 2010
"Help! I'm Homeschooling and I'm Freaking Out!"
Yep. That was me about 8 years ago. Fresh out of the "I'm gonna homeschool!" box with absolutely no clue how or where to start. Thankfully, I had a great friend who was not-so-new to homeschooling. She dished out tons of practical advice to help steer me along the right path....
1. First things first: Visit the Home School Legal Defense Association's website. Here you'll find your state's laws regarding every aspect of homeschooling; required subjects, testing and reporting requirements if any, as well as links to local support groups.
2. Research homeschool curricula. A great way to do this is by reading reviews such as those found on the TOS Homeschool Crew's Blog. Our helpful crew has reviewed a ton of great products over the past 2 years, with more coming in all the time. This should definitely be one of your main "go to" resources! (Yes, I'm slightly biased.)
Other things to consider are your ability (or willingness) to teach, your child's learning style, your budget, how many children you have, and how much time you have in the day to devote to homeschooling. The answers to these questions will help you determine which product is right for you and your children. For example, if you're a real hands-on, artsy, craftsy kind of gal then Lapbooks or even Unit Studies might be a way to go. However, if you're more like me and would rather give your child their list of assignments at the start of the day (because whenever you use glue, it always ends up horrendously wrong), then a more structured "school like" program would be better.
3. Ask, ask, ask! Chances are, you know at least 1 other homeschooilng family. We're everywhere! (Great. Now I sound like my husband whenever he talks about The Grateful Dead and his fellow Dead Heads..."We are everywhere!" Ugh...)
But seriously, even if you don't happen to know of any other homeschooling families, there's still the internet and good ol' Yahoo Groups. I joined a few of these in the beginning too, and the support from all those fabulous ladies was incredible! They were such a blessing!
4. Purchase a packaged curriculum. I know...I know. Packaged curriculum is often seen as the "unkosher" way to go; consistently viewed as the enemy of all creativity, the killer of that great homeschool pioneer, rebel-with-a-cause spirit. But can I tell you a little secret? Lean in close...They really do make things a lot easier in the beginning (and even later!). Honestly with this approach, there's no guesswork about which math, or which spelling program, etc. It's all right there in front of you. Easy breezy!
Some places such as ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) or CLASS (Christian Liberty Academy School System) provide grading and record keeping services as well. Granted, these aren't free but they're quite economical versus other complete programs. We used ACE for Kindergarten, as that was what Sierra's private school was using, and then switched to CLASS for the next 2 years. After that, we moved onto the "wing it" approach, which was soon followed by The Jubilee Academy, an excellent online program.
Once you get your bearings and adjust to the new homeschooling lifestyle, you may consider dropping the package deal and just "winging it". However, there is no shame in a little hand-holding at the beginning!
5. Subscribe to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. Not only do you get some fabulous freebies with your paid subscription, but you receive a plethora of helpful tips, advice, timely encouragement, product reviews, spiritual nourishment, e-newsletters, freebies and more. The Old Schoolhouse magazine is far and away the bestest of the best in homeschooling magazines. (I really do feel this way and have always felt this strongly about it, even before the TOS Crew started. This is not just a shameless plug. So there.)
And there you have it, folks. My Homeschooling 101 Advice, in a nutshell. ;)
To read what my fellow Blog Cruisers had to say, please click here. :) The Blog Cruise is the TOS Crew's first blog carnival, which features fun, helpful and highly informative Q & A's each week.