Any time is a great time to start homeschooling your child. If you’re getting started right from the beginning of their academic career, you’ll have amazing advantages from this starting point. In elementary school, middle school, or high school, it's never too late to decide to homeschool your child. To embark on this journey without ever having attended public school or private school, your child will be free to love learning from start to finish. Starting out after your child has attended public school will be a bit different, and the factors can be as diverse as children themselves. But even then, there are tons of benefits for the child leaving government schooling for home education.
No matter where you start, though, there are some tips I’d like to share that will make things easier for you. To those who have never been homeschooled before, it can seem like a monumental task with heavy requirements. Whereas there are specific requirements you have to meet with regard to minimum state requirements, it’s actually a lot easier than you might think. Everything worth doing is worth doing well, and it’s nice to know that some of those things are not as labor-intensive as they’ve been made out to be.
Find Out What Your State’s Legal Requirements Are For Homeschooling
The first, and most important thing, you’ll need to know is exactly what’s required of you from your state. Homeschooling laws differ from state to state, so what’s required in one is not likely to be so with another. BE sure to check HSLDA, Homeschool Legal Defense Association, to get started learning about these requirements and do extra research for yourself as well.
Another great way to find out exactly what is expected of you during your homeschooling year is to connect with other local homeschooling families. There is likely a Facebook homeschool support group specifically for your local area, or you can seek out a homeschool co-op, club, or group where you’ll meet people who have been homeschooling for years. By making connections like these, you’re more likely to hear a “real-time” explanation of your requirements, and how best to meet them.
Be aware that some local school districts may attempt to get more information from you, as a homeschooler, than they are allowed by law. For instance, some states only require that you supply the name, birth date, and social security number of the child being homeschooled in a Letter of Intent (LOI). However, some districts send out form letters, asking for much more information. It’s important in these situations to know exactly what you have to submit, and that you submit no more than is necessary.
Other states, however, have much more imposing requirements, and it is legally necessary to abide by those laws. If you are in New York, Pennsylvania, or Vermont, for example, you are in some of the most highly regulated states in the nation, with regard to homeschooling.
When Homeschooling, Consider Your Child’s Learning Style
The truth is, all children learn differently. There might be many who learn in much the same way, but there are no two learners who learn in the exact same way. That’s why it’s so important to focus on the specific learning style your child utilizes for new information. Finding out how your child learns is crucial to your child's education. There are many different kinds, and CLICKING HERE may offer more insight into this important step.
Catering to your child’s specific learning style is a really great way to really harness their potential, focusing on strengths and making them feel like their workload isn’t so hard. Homeschooling is great for all kids, but especially kids with special needs. They can get the attention and flexibility they need to prosper! But it can also have a massive impact on your teaching style as well. Those of us who are no strangers to homeschooling can tell you, attempting to force a child to learn in a way that they do not or cannot embrace makes for a lot of bad days! And although you may still have some of those, if you can work smarter and not harder, everyone wins.
It’s also important to understand that your child can have more than one learning style. Different subjects may dictate different reactions to the material, so you can easily switch between styles, if necessary, to make sure every need is met.
There are different kinds of learning styles, each outlined in detail in the link above, and include:
You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to identify which kind of learner your child is as you begin to really take notice of both their strengths and weaknesses. It also helps to find a proper homeschooling curriculum, which is easier to do if you’ve started off with this knowledge. If you’re going to be working with a co-op or homeschooling group, the learning style can also play a role in that as well.
Moving Into Your Homeschooling Style
Once you have a grasp on your child’s specific learning style, you can then work on which homeschooling style will work best for both of you. As with learning styles, it’s possible to utilize more than one, depending on the subject in which you’re working. This ability to switch from among styles - whether learning or teaching - is one of the major aspects that simply does not happen in the traditional school setting. In fact, it is blatantly discouraged instead, seeking to make all children in the classroom learn in the very same ways. Homeschooling has the advantage for each kid to take school at their own pace which does not take place in a traditional school system.
Homeschooling styles vary greatly, and what works for one family may not necessarily work for yours. Then again, it may work in math but isn’t bringing out the anticipated results in language arts. Some homeschooling parents don’t give themselves the freedom to switch teaching styles and this can be a huge mistake for both you and your child. Remember, this is YOUR school and YOUR child, and giving them the best education may include some tactics that public schoolers will never understand.
And that’s okay.
Some of the teaching styles you might learn about as you research are:
- Eclectic Homeschooling
- The Charlotte Mason Method
- Classical Homeschooling
- Unit Studies
- Traditional Homeschooling
To learn more about these styles, you can click any of the provided links, or CLICK HERE to read an overview on each.
Be Prepared To Answer the “Socialization” Question When Homeschooling
Throughout the years that our family homeschooled, we were ALWAYS questioned about our daughter’s socialization. It isn’t nearly the “problem” that non-homeschoolers make it out to be, but somehow that’s the first place their mind goes. The truth is, homeschooled kids are actually much more likely to develop better social graces than their public-schooled peers.
Common sense dictates that any child who is subjected to a widely varied group of people who are of different ages will be more socially developed than those that spend most of their time in classrooms filled with 30 to 40 same-age peers. These children also have access only to a limited number of adults, all of whom are authority figures and offer no room for social growth.
There are many ways in which homeschooled children can socialize. They get to take part in a variety of events that allow them to experience the world, and those in it, in a variety of different ways. A local co-op or homeschool program is an excellent way to allow your children to socialize, while athletics can give them the opportunity to do what they love with like-minded children around their own age. Field trips are also a great way to socialize! think of all the places in your town that kids could visit, banks, courthouses, nature centers, local restaurants, and more. Many businesses are very open to the idea of giving tours, and it's great for children to see how things are run. They can also become involved in the arts, which can include theatre and music lessons, which add another level of experience from which great benefits can be drawn.
For more information about homeschooling and socialization, CLICK HERE.
Choose A Great Homeschooling Curriculum
The curriculum you choose for your homeschool can be a major determining factor in the success you see. Hopefully, by now you’ve researched your child’s learning style, your teaching style, and you know about some of the legal aspects, so you’re ready to embark on this most important leg of your journey.
There are a variety of homeschool curriculums available, each with specific pros and cons. Even though Abeka may be what one family swears by, you might actually find Classical Conversations a better choice. This is a very personal decision that you’ll want to make based on all the facts you’ve researched while deciding to homeschool in the first place.
The best way to choose a homeschool curriculum is to base your decision on your homeschooling style. Using specific methods can automatically make some of these programs better than others - or worse. Some styles leave heavily on language and logic, whereas others focus on such things as unit studies and lapbooks. When you find what works for you, stick with it as long as you are seeing success. Don't be afraid to mix and match homeschooling curriculums as well, many homeschool families will use one curriculum for math, one for science, another for language and history, and so on. Again, it's all about what works for you and your child.
Be Flexible While Homeschooling
This is a major caveat for homeschoolers, especially if this will be your first year. In fact, it’s one of the main things I wish I’d known in my first year as a homeschooler. I began with a curriculum and a style that I - shamefully - had not really researched as I should. I took it at face value and when we began that first fateful school year, I felt utterly trapped. I didn’t KNOW that changing my curriculum mid-year was “allowed.” I didn’t KNOW that it was ok to take more breaks than public school allowed.
There was so much I didn’t know, it really caused a lot of tears, both from me as well as my daughter. Over the next several months, I discovered the reason for many of my failures, and the more I learned, the better our homeschooling went. If I had only known about that flexibility prior to taking off at full speed, I could have saved us a lot of trouble.
That flexibility will extend into your schedule as well. The fact is, life happens. And it happens no matter what’s going on in your life. You’ll have flat tires, you’ll forget to pick up milk at the grocery, there will be a shortage of pet kibble at the worst possible time… and so much more. The good news is, all these “schedule-changers” need not be seen as roadblocks and detours. You don't have to be full-time all the time! In fact, I counseled a young mother a few days ago on how to conduct homeschool while having her tires changed. Upon hearing from her later, she reported an absolutely EXCELLENT day, full of learning, socializing, and FUN.
Plan To Attend A Great Homeschooling Convention Near You
You are likely to find, as many already have, that attending a Great Homeschool Convention can be a great way to take care of most, if not all, the things on this list, plus a few more. Packed with amazing resources such as featured speakers, workshops, curriculum, and resources vendors, and surrounded by enthusiastic fellow homeschool educators, you’ll find this gathering to be one of the greatest decisions you’ll make in your homeschooling endeavors.
Choosing to educate yourself in such an interactive way can have benefits a Google search simply will not yield! You’ll be able to ask questions, meet professionals, shop for products, and meet others with whom you can discuss real-life homeschooling, and never have to leave the area. Many who have already attended agree that it’s one of the best decisions they’ve made thus far. And most return, year after year, to find out about all the new things that go on at our Great Homeschool Conventions.
If you haven’t yet done so, we encourage you to attend a Great Homeschool Convention near you. To those who already have, we welcome you back. Our regional gatherings offer something for everyone, both secular and faith-based homeschoolers, regardless of style or curriculum choices. And you’ll certainly want to find out for yourself what you, and your children, have been missing.
Since our conventions are regional, we know that some families have to travel great distances to attend. To make it easier for those of you who take this route, we offer hotel discounts, military discounts, and active clergy members can attend free of charge. We hope everyone has the opportunity to join us for the upcoming convention year.
To find a Great Homeschooling Convention near you, CLICK HERE.
To register to attend, CLICK HERE.
For additional blog content, CLICK HERE.
And remember, Great Homeschool Conventions are: Equipping… Encouraging… FUN!