Have you decided to homeschool? Ready to take the leap? Maybe you are trying to navigate these stormy waters and it looks impossible. Maybe you just need to know how to homeschool. You’ve come to the right place.
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How to Homeschool: What You Need to Know Right Now
When you are first setting out and learning how to homeschool, the task might seem daunting. I was in the exact same place you are now back in 2010. I was asking every homeschool mom I knew, how to homeschool and how to get started. At the time, I had just 3 young children and was expecting my 4th. It is a scary leap at first but it really isn’t too difficult, if you have the right map to show you where you are heading.
How to Homeschool:
Find out what the laws are in your state.
How to Homeschool Step 1: Find out what the laws are in your state. I use a website called HSLDA to narrow down what kind of laws my state has. Some states want you to keep track of days, some hours, some nothing, some want to see full portfolios, some want you to test every year, some every three years others don’t require anything. You need to check this out first. It really isn’t as big and scary as it seems. Click here to find out more.
Find a support group.
How to Homeschool Step 2: Find a support group. This looks like a lot of different things and what it is probably depends on where you live and what you need. I have seen groups that schedule regular outings, fieldtrips, playdates, and coffee breaks for mom. I have also seen some which are online only groups, Facebook groups, groups that meet once a month, once a week, or twice a year. Truthfully, the point is to have a connection with other parents who are also homeschooling. Find something that works for you.
Decide if you want a Co-Op
How to Homeschool Step 3: Decide if you want to use a co-op. What is a co-op? It is a group of homeschooling parents that get together on a consistent basis to teach classes. Some co-ops are once a month or twice a month, however, most meet once a week. Some are just for extra-curriculars but many are for academics or a mixture of both.
In the co-op I belong to, we are each assigned a class to teach, two to assist with and one free period. This is not a “drop your kid off and have some free time” time. This is still part of your homeschooling and teaching – it is just done in a different environment.
Some co-ops are small and meet in someone’s house. Other co-ops are medium to large in size and are run like a small school. I have homeschooled with a co-op and I have homeschooled without. I much prefer to homeschool with a co-op. Going to a co-op gives me an opportunity to socialize and speak with other adults for a few hours out of my week. It also gives the kids time to have some fun with other kids (other than siblings). Plus attending a co-op lightens my load in some ways, for instance currently all our science experiments are done at the co-op with a teacher who LOVES science.
Whether or not you join a co-op is completely up to you, remember some only take new families at the beginning of the school year (sign up in February or March) and some have a waiting list.
Extra Curricular Groups
How to Homeschool Step 4: How much extra curricular will your child participate in? Another question when looking into how to homeschool is the choice to use extra curricular groups that meet around many cities. These consist of a variety of sports, music and art.
Near me, there are homeschool PE classes, gymnastics, swim lessons, choirs, drama clubs, musicals, and other types of “extras” like engineering, art lessons, science classes (not associated with a co-op), knitting, Lego Club, logic, computer programming, and Spanish. These classes are typically a drop-off for kids.
Check local groups and places including community centers, YMCAs, churches, and libraries in your area for a good idea where some of these are held.
University Model School
How to Homeschool Step 5: Do you want to use outside help like a University Model School? University Model Schools are a cross between homeschool and private school. Some meet twice a week for the entire school day and teach the same classes both days.
While others offer a choice of classes that meet M,W,F or T,TH and you can choose how many classes your child attends. These classes are all taught by other teachers and not by parents. They are typically a drop-off program.
You can search the term University Model School and the name of your town or you can check out this directory for more information.
Books & Supplies
How to Homeschool Step 7: Buy Books and Supplies. I buy almost all my books through Amazon Prime. I have been a Prime member since 2011. If you aren’t familiar with Prime – it is a service offered through Amazon.com. Included in this subscription service is free TWO-DAY shipping on most products (which is absolutely amazing), free instant streaming of many movies and TV shows, free borrowing books through the Kindle Lending Library, if you sign up as AmazonMom you will also get 20% off diapers. Prime has been well worth it for our family. Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial!
How to Homeschool Step 8: What curriculum do you want to use? One of the first questions I get when being asked how to homeschool, is where do I buy curriculum? Because of the internet, there are so many choices! It really is quite simple. I buy much of our curriculum through a website called the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. This awesome website is completely free to join. It basically uses the members collaboration to get group buys at a discounted rate (much like how schools get lower costs by buying in bulk). I ALWAYS check the Co-op before I make a purchase. Most of the time I can find what I’m looking for there – and at a steep discount!
This year, I have used notebooking journals to simplify my routine and actually love looking back to see what the kids have used. Please read more about this here if you are looking for an easy solution to curriculum (hint: you can also save money by just using the library along with your sketch book/notebook combo).
If you have a friend who homeschools you might be able to share curriculum or do a lending library with someone who has kids in similar grade levels.
What was the hardest part when you started your homeschooling journey? Leave a comment below!