Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Preparing to Homeschool~Top Ten Ways to Get Yourself Ready!









Welcome to my series entitled, "Exploring Homeschool?." I had so many inquiries about homeschooling since I first took the plunge (as of this past September), that I've decided to share from my journey. If you, or a loved one, are thinking about homeschooling now or sometime in the future, I highly recommend reading my series in its entirety.


Part One & Two

http://www.parentingandhomeschoolinginfaith.com/2013/02/the-challenges-of-homeschooling.html

http://www.parentingandhomeschoolinginfaith.com/2013/02/the-joys-of-homeschooling.html



Preparing to Homeschool
Top Ten Ways to Get Yourself Ready!




    • First I would start off by deciding WHY you've chosen to homeschool. You'll find, as you continue your journey, that this will lay the foundation for other decisions along the way (ie. curriculum, methodologies, support groups or none, etc.). For us the main reason we homeschool is to offer one-on-one support that cannot be found in a larger teaching environment. Other factors for us include: our recent move to the country, the cost of a private Christian school for four children, the draw I've always had to homeschooling, and the ability to incorporate other activities that we felt would be beneficial to their learning experience (such as more hands-on experience). Once you decide YOUR personal reason(s) why you are homeschooling, then you are ready to proceed to the next step.


    • Read EVERY book that you can find in your local library on homeschooling, and in particular books that relate to curriculum & methodology choices. I am so thankful for a close friend who recommended Mary Pride's book "The Complete Guide to Getting Started in Homeschooling". This is a MUST READ!!! After I skimmed through most of the sections I felt better prepared to converse with: vendors at curriculum fairs, other homeschooling parents, and navigate the websites related to this vary vast topic! Although your methods and curriculum will most likely evolve as you continue your journey, it is important to find a starting point. For us that was continuing with a traditionally based program that our kids had used before in school, and supplementing with Charlotte Mason type books, as well as adding in some Unit Studies I've put together.


    • Next, find some seasoned homeschooling parents. When my four children were still in school I had a lot more free time. It was during this time that I began searching the web for any trace of homeschool groups and organizations in my area. Sadly I found my area to be lacking in terms of organized groups, but in the surrounding areas I found some wonderful groups that I have connected with. The greatest asset has been this one group leader, who had great pity on me, and invited me over for tea once she heard I was researching homeschooling. She was absolutely lovely and helped calm some of my fears about homeschooling. She allowed me to explore her homeschool areas in her home. I met most of her children while they were working. I was able to speak my mind and ask her about my concerns. She didn't pretend to have all the answers for my particular situation, but she was open to listening. It was a way to validate my journey, and I still attend many of her group's activities this year. Look for that one (or more!) special mentor. Pray for that special connection. Ask around. Don't be discouraged if you don't get many responses at first. I've since realized that homeschooling parents are some of the busiest around! To find a mentor in this journey will be well worth the effort you put out.


    • Know the laws in your area. In my mind the best investment I've made this year was to join the "Home School Legal Defense Association". Even though I've discovered that homeschooling is quite legal in my area, and well received, I believe it is prudent to prepare for any surprise situation that may arise. If say, for some reason, someone came to my door asking about our 'homeschool' I can simply refer them to my legal counsel. A woman in our area had an issue with someone regarding her right to homeschool. This organization went to bat for her family and all turned out well! Protect yourself. Think of this investment as homeschooling 'insurance'. And if you are pulling your children from public school you will have to research if they'll require a legal documentation. Our area has an optional one that can be submitted. Know the laws and protect your family!



    • Find a homeschool convention you can attend. Homeschool conventions are basically like big homeschooling fairs that showcase different curriculum, and feature many different service vendors related to homeschooling. They also offer keynote speakers on various topics of interest to homeschooling families. I attended my first one last year, sans children, and collected some more useful information for my family's journey. It will be a great investment of your time and finances!



      • Look for support groups that will meet your family's needs. Now I realize not every homeschooling family requires a support group, but for the majority of us this is something vital to our well-being as 'teachers' in our little schools. I found a few very good support groups: some online, some that meet in person, and some that offer activities for all our children to participate in. Not all groups are created equal so I recommend inquiring: what is the cost? what is the commitment? do I have to adhere to any one main philosophy to join? are children of all ages welcome (ie. your nursing infant, your high schooler) and what type of activities do your offer?



    • Share your vision with your closest loved ones. Of course they may not ALL be receptive but I find that if they see that you have a plan, and have done your research well, most people are fairly open minded. If they don't believe in your plan, then  don't sweat it. Ask them WHY they disagree and take their points to heart. If they're worried you won't be able to keep up with high school math, but your eldest child is only seven years old...well, then you can assure them that you will take it year to year! If you need tutoring you can always get it and so forth. If your family is concerned you may get burnt out, then you could let them know your plan to take breaks (perhaps with your hubby, a friend, or a local co-op~which is a  group where parents take turns teaching their specialties!) I've heard the saying that you shouldn't need to defend yourself, and of course you don't have to!, but remember that by making homeschooling a normal and viable education option, you are helping to further dispel the homeschool myths that are floating around! Since I've begun sharing our homeschool journey with others I've had MANY people say they are interested in researching it further for their OWN families.



    • Now that you've researched it, it's time to actually BUY your curriculum! Or put it together if you are doing it yourself. It may be as simple as looking for a few books, or as complex as ordering a full-out grade system, but no matter what~ it's always best to prepare yourself! Maybe you are planning to unschool (google unschooling if you have no idea what I'm talking about) but you can still prepare your home environment so it's conducive to learning. You can acquire more reading books, math manipulatives, science experiments, whatever you decide is necessary to your family's goals.



  1. Decide WHERE you are going to run your actual schooling. We started in our basement. Then graduated to our living room. Now we are all spread out on our main floor. Still, I keep a desk filled with all of my teaching stuff (finished work, important documents, and craft goodies) and I have a few books shelfs that are quickly getting filled up! I found setting things up for our homeschool helped to increase the enthusiasm with our kids. 



  • 10.  Lastly, and most importantly, is BE FLEXIBLE! You may go through this list in a different order, you may skip certain points you deem unnecessary, but after all it is YOUR school! Be open to things transitioning half way through the school year. Be flexible to your children wanting to incorporate new books, ideas and tasks. Don't stress if you're feeling inadequate or overwhelmed. It's absolutely normal! Don't sweat the small stuff, but begin to search out the answers you are seeking for the 'bigger' issues (as named above). 

And above all else...enjoy your journey into homeschooling! Let it not be a laborious task. I'm sure you'll meet many interesting people along the way :)




35 comments:

  1. Love this post, thank you so much for linking to my blog. I really needed to read this today. Have a blessed day. Tara.

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    1. So glad it encouraged you! I am really enjoying your link-ups each week & all the amazing bloggers I've been meeting. Thanks for stopping by :)

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  2. I appreciate this list as a mom considering homeschooling. I am overwhelmed with all that's out there, but you've pointed out the most important things, I think. Thanks!

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    1. I think every Mom is overwhelmed when approaching that school age...period! Anyway, glad the list gave you some things to think about. Thanks for stopping by :)

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  3. Hi Rach, I think you are very brave to homeschool. I think if i were starting out with my children's education now i may consider it but right now my youngest is in her last year at school and i dont think until recently I could have done anything so brave. I pray God blesses you as you do this great thing. Thanks for linking up.
    God bless
    Tracy

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    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement! Homeschooling may be for the long-term, or just for a season, but I appreciate all the support from anywhere I can receive it :)
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. What a helpful list! Thanks for sharing your wisdom. :)

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    1. You're welcome! Thanks for popping by :)

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  5. Very good advice for those considering this option. What a generous heart you have to share!

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    1. I just remember how hard it was when I started out! Not an easy journey to begin...
      Thanks for your encouragement :)

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  6. Great action plan, Rachel! Thanks for adding this to NextGen Homeschool's "What's Working Wednesday" link-up. Your steps are very on point for those considering homeschooling, I know I would have loved to read a list like this before I got started (even though I had been homeschooled for a few years myself).

    I hope you'll keep linking up with us each week!
    Renée at NextGen Homeschool

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    1. I was so happy to find your site! So many neat things to check out.
      Yes, definitely planning to stay connected :)

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  7. I had a discussion with some mom's the other night about homeschooling. Finding this post was great because I just sent it to them.

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    1. I am so excited to hear you may be embarking on the homeschooling adventure! It is definitely something worth seriously giving consideration to.
      Thanks so much for stopping by :)

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  8. Great tips and advice! Thank you for sharing!

    So glad you could link up at this week’s Harvest of Friends Weekend Blog Hop!

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    1. You're welcome and thanks so much for hosting!!

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  9. Newest follower here! I found you through the blog hop. You have a wonderful blog, I can't wait to read more. You can find me at meandmr.com

    -Melanie @meandmr.com

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    1. Thanks for coming and stopping by :) Will check out your blog!

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  10. Very comprehensive post! It will help a lot of moms who are considering homeschooling! Thanks for linking up at From House to Home. Hope to see you tomorrow with another great post!
    --Gena at ichoosejoy.org

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement & for visiting my blog!

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  11. What beautiful children you have!
    I, too, wrote a couple of blog posts for prospective homeschooling parents and I think we have a similar list!

    http://taytayhser.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/thinking-about-homeschooling-your.html

    I'll keep your list handy for my next post for prospective parents!

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    1. Thanks so much Karen! And glad you could stop by :)

      I'm on my way to find your site now.

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    2. This is a great post for me since I'm considering homeschooling. Thanks for sharing at Family Fun Friday!
      Monica
      http://happyandblessedhome.com

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    3. Glad you enjoyed it!!
      Thanks so much for stopping by :)

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  12. Great list! I definitely like your suggestions about finding seasoned homeschoolers. It is so important to have support especially if your family isn't as supportive. Thanks for sharing! I am a new follower. Hope to see you at True Aim!

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    1. I hear you, the more support the better!
      Thank you for the follow and on to check out your blog :)

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  13. Great tips! When I started homeschooling, I read every book I could get my hands on at the library. I think the best thing I did was, like you said, get connected with seasoned homeschoolers. I have learned a lot from them. And now that I'm a 'seasoned' homeschooler, I love to share what I've learned with other families. I think one of the hardest things was the trial and error with curriculum...especially expensive ones that ended up sitting on my shelf. For example, I had to go through several reading programs with my dd who has learning difficulties before another mom told me of a reading curriculum created especially for children like my daughter. Then there's curriculum that required a lot of planning. We finally found Time4Learning, which my daughter loves and requires no planning. I wish I'd known of it as a new homeschooler.
    Great post!

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    1. I think it's awesome that you love to share what you've learned :) Not all seasoned homeschoolers make (or often have!) the time for it...but as you can tell from my post, us 'newbies' truly appreciate all the help we can get!!
      Thanks for stopping by & sharing :)

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  14. Great advice! I agree that reading all you can and connecting with other homeschoolers is essential!

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    1. Agreed! The more support the better :)

      Thanks so much for stopping by & commenting.

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  15. I don't know if this is true or not; but I think it was easier to find homeschooling groups in the past than it is now. Everything is so socially connected on the internet now that it isn't always easy to find actual factual friends. I'm glad you did find a homeschooling group. Good suggestions.

    I am linking right after you over at Living Proverbs 31.

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  16. Good post full of good advice. Thank you for sharing.

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  17. I found this linked up at A Little R and R and I'm so glad I did! As a fellow homeschooling family, I thought this list was right on target. The hardest thing for us is finding a support group... we live, literally, in the middle of nowhere! I'm finding linking up with fellow homeschoolers online helps to fill that void!

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  18. Rach...what a great list to encourage others about homeschooling. I'm a homeschooling mom going on 20 years now and I would say you covered a lot of important topics for someone thinking about taking the leap. Thank you for sharing it at WJIM this week. Blessings.

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  19. This is definitely a good post for anyone considering homeschooling their kids. I personally wouldn't trade homeschooling my kids for anything even though there are many days when I wonder if it's worth it. Yet, I love it, and love having the freedom to be with my kids all the time!! I don't want to miss a moment with them more than I have to.

    Of course, that's not the real reason why I decided to home school them. I didn't do a lot of research, I was blessed with finding the perfect school system for us the first time.Even though I didn't realize it until we tried many other schools and only ended up back where we started. :)

    Glad you shared this with us!

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