Homeschooling 101

To paraphrase Shakespeare, some of us are born homeschoolers, some set out to achieve homeschooling, and some have homeschooling thrust upon them.

If you are in the latter category, fear not! Homeschooling is a wonderful adventure, a learning experience for all involved. I homeschooled my two boys, now both college graduates, from kindergarten through high school graduation. I have also been teaching educational programs to children of all ages for over 25 years. This blog is to provide parents new to homeschooling with resources and encouragement.

Let’s Begin.

First of all, take a breath. There are many ways to homeschool and much depends on who you are as a person, as a parent, and who your child is. It will take a little time for you to find your sea legs.

I’ll be doing a series of posts about the different styles of homeschooling and the Resources section of this blog will likewise contain links for further information in this area. In the meantime, it’s OK to start small and gradually add subjects. You may try two or three approaches to math, say, before you find the one that clicks for you and your child. If you decide to homeschool “after the duration,” so to speak, you may find you need to switch programs as your child progresses to a different level. In my own homeschool, I used Math U See for kinder, switched to Calculadders (while still using manipulatives) for the basic operations, used Saxon for middle school, then switched again to Teaching Textbooks for high school-level math.

Schedules are Your Friends (But Leave Room for Life)

My own experience is that schedules are more than helpful at keeping both my kids and me on track. Breakfast, chores, school, free time: in that order. That said, life tends to get messy and that too is a life lesson for your kids. Baking bread or grocery shopping can be educational too. It also cannot be said enough that kids grow up fast. Things like reading, cooking, or walking together create memories and stronger relationships for both you and your kids. Try to take advantage of this time together.

Lesson Plans

I recommend writing out lesson plans for the week. Yes, there will be times when things do not go according to plan. But lesson plans map out where you want to go, even if there is a detour or two along the way.

If you plan on your child returning to public school, you will want to look at the standards for your school district. This will let you know what skills your child should have in order to be prepared for the next grade level. This will also help in your lesson planning.

I used a teacher’s plan book from Lakeshore. There is a page in front for your weekly schedule and when open the left side has space for Monday through Friday lessons while the right hand page is available for notes. I found my teacher’s plan book to be helpful not only to keep me organized but as a record of what subjects were covered and how. I wrote my lesson plans on Sunday evening.

What the Law Requires

I have only homeschooled in Texas so I cannot speak to requirements in other states, which are sometimes more stringent. In Texas, if you decide to homeschool, and your child is enrolled in a public school, you inform the school of your withdrawal and that you’ll be homeschooling. That’s it. Texas does not require approval of lesson plans or books. Nor are there regular check-ins with any officials. Should anyone ask, you are required to prove that you are teaching in a bona fide fashion (i.e. there are books and/or computer screens involved) and that you are teaching reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and good citizenship. It is highly unlikely anyone will ask, but a teacher’s plan book will provide this information.

In addition, when it comes time for college applications, in my experience colleges wanted a list of all the books used each year of high school. If this is all written into your planner, then typing up a list is easier than having to rummage through your bookcase and search your memory for which year you did Romeo and Juliet.

Notice I Didn’t Say It Will Always Be Easy

I loved homeschooling. I loved the time it gave me with my kids. I love the memories I have of our art projects, our stints in the neighborhood organic garden. I loved learning alongside my kids. (Hey, I even got pretty good at algebra!) But… there may be a raised voice or two along the way. Just sayin’.

Give yourself a little time-out. Take a deep breath or two. And start again.

You got this.