“I’m not patient enough to homeschool my children.”
“My child won’t listen to me.”
“You’re more qualified to homeschool since you were a teacher.”
BELIEVE ME I totally get it! However, please don’t think I was granted an extra dose of patience and that my children always listen with 100% obedience! And truly, I think being formally trained as an educator has hindered me as a homeschooling mom because I’ve had to unlearn the formal structure I was taught to better serve my individual child.
I’m here to let you know that YOU CAN DO THIS!
Are you ready? These 13 steps will completely help you understand that YOU CAN homeschool your child!
Is homeschooling for me?
#1 What is homeschooling?
By definition, homeschooling is just educating your child at home. You’ve already been doing this in case you didn’t know! You’ve taught your child how to eat, crawl, talk, walk, ride a bike, show kindness and so much more!
Basically you are educating your child at home and in the world instead of in a traditional setting.
#2 Should I homeschool?
My mom started talking to me about homeschooling since I was pregnant with our first child. It took us until she was going to enter 1st grade to decide to give it a try. Just know it’s ok if this is a decision you’re struggling with.
Every family and children are different. YOU have to decide what’s best for your family. Not your mom, your sister, your neighbors. YOU! I encourage you take some time to pray to see if this is something the Lord has laid on your heart.
I had peace that I should give it a try. My husband said, “Well you can’t screw up 1st grade, so let’s try it. And if it doesn’t work, we can always send her to school.” Guess what, we’re still homeschooling and I’m forever thankful we gave it a try!!
I do recommend the book The Core by Leigh Bortins. This might help you decide if homeschooling is right for you!
#3 At what age can I start homeschooling my children?
ANY AGE and you can start homeschooling at any time!!
I know families that have started from the very beginning, others that pulled their kids out of elementary school, junior high and even high school to start homeschooling! There is no specific time you have to start. You start when it’s right for your child!
How do I start homeschooling today?
#4 Check out your State requirements
Honestly, it sounds way more intimidating than it really is! I asked trusted friends who also homeschool in my state. Since we’re in Ohio, I have to send a letter to the superintendent each year. One is an Educational Recommendation Form the other is a Letter of Intent for the curriculum for the year. Then at the end of the year, I can either have a certified teacher review our work or have my kids take a standardized test that I can administer at home. Most of the time, there are other homeschooling moms that are certified teachers that you can pay to go over your work for the year and sign off on it. I send the teacher assessment or standardized test scores in with my paper work for the next year. Most states require much less!
#5 Get Plugged In
There are so many resources for homeschooling families!
I suggest you start asking around. Search Facebook for local homeschooling groups.
Check in with your library, local zoo and YMCA. Most will have classes just for homeschool children. This is a great way to meet other parents and learn about other options.
Search out homeschooling co-ops in your area. You’ll probably be surprised how many their are! Check out a few and find the group that meshes well with your family. It’s ok to check out more than one until you find the right fit.
I’m still learning about more and more homeschool co-ops, play groups, and nature groups all the time!
How do you homeschool?
#6 Identify your WHY or goal for homeschooling your children
Is it that you want them to have a faith based education?
Do you want your kids to have a love of learning?
Do you want to be out in nature more, exploring and discovering the world they live in.
Would you like to be able to tailor your child’s education to their interest and passions?
Does your child have a learning disability and you want to be able to support them where they’re at?
Do you want to know what your child is learning to help be able to apply what they’re learning to the world around them?
Do you want to build a strong family unit and have a positive educational environment?
**Knowing what you want the end goal for your child to be will help you decide what type of curriculum you want to use in your home!
#7 Choose a curriculum!!
What is the best homeschool curriculum?
Honestly, the one that’s the BEST fit for you and your family! I know, that’s not very helpful, but it’s the honest truth. What is great for one family, isn’t always the best for another. So give yourself some grace and time to look through a few and then make your decision.
You can get a list of popular homeschooling curriculum ideas here!
**Remember this…. You DO NOT have to do all parts of a curriculum and/or complete the book! You can STOP a book/lesson you do not like, that is not working for your family and try something else.
Once I found a curriculum I thought I’d like to try, I would ask other homeschooling moms what they thought of it and sometimes I would ask to borrow it for a short period of time before I would invest in it. There are all types of curriculum and price levels as well! You can do this on the cheap if you need to!
#8 Our Homeschool Curriculum
I will tell you the ones that we love and I have a list of other popular homeschool curriculum options for you to check out. This blog post does contain affiliate links. I’ll be sharing products we believe and trust in!
**WORD OF WARNING**
Read below to get an overview of what we do. PLEASE, by any means, do not feel that when you start homeschooling that you need to start with all of this!! (see #12 below)
We use Classical Conversations as our main curriculum. This covers History, Geography, Math, English Grammar, Latin, Science, and Timeline. There is also a community day 1 day / week. This was SUPER helpful for me because this is where I was able to connect with other homeschooling moms and a place for my children to make friends. On community day there is also a science experiment, art project and child presentation. Check out the Classical Conversations website to visit a local campus in your area.
In our Classical Conversations Curriculum, there is a history sentence each week that we learn. To expand upon their knowledge, we have listened to the book Story of the World. We borrowed the books and CDs for the book from our local library. There are 4 books, each covering a different time frame in history. This is something my daughters do independently. My first grade daughter just listens to the CD’s. When my oldest was in 2nd and 3rd grade, she would read along in the book while listening to the CDs. We never looked into the workbooks.
As a former high school math teacher, I knew that having a solid foundation in math basics is key. I was so excited that I found Right Start Math. I love that this program uses a ton of manipulatives to SHOW math quantities and help the child connect one math concept to another. They also use a ton of games for practice, like Go to the Dump or Corners instead of lots of worksheets. They truly want to build on your child understanding numbers and how they work together, NOT just following a formula.
Check out my blog The Best Homeschool Math Curriculum to learn all about Right Start Math!
ENGLISH GRAMMAR & LANGUAGE ARTS
English was a subject were I struggled. I did not want that for my girls. I am SUPER happy we came across Logic of English. This Language and English Grammar curriculum has taught me more than I ever remember learning when I was a child. Instead of teaching sight words, they teach phonograms and the different sounds multi-letter combinations can make to help you sound out a word. This was game changing for me!! Also, it has made my child way more confident in her spelling.
We have been homeschooling for 4 years, and this is the first year we have added in some additional science curriculum. We have started with the Answers in Genesis. I choose to start with 2 books that coincide with the same science material we are learning in Classical Conversations. You can do them in any order! With your order, you will have access to activity worksheets and quizzes that you download online.
In the past, we have borrowed books from the library on various science topics, however this is the first science curriculum we have invested in.
Teaching my daughters to be in the Word daily and to know Jesus is my #1 focus. However, I admit I’m not always the best at making it a priority in our day. That’s why I’m so thankful for the Awana program! Even at a young age the children are memorizing Bible verses and learning more about Jesus. As they get older into the program, they have “assignments” to do throughout the week that get them into the Bible and reading scripture! Plus they get to meet more kids their age who are also being raised with the same values. During their once a week club night, they play games, say their Bible verses and have conversations about what they’re learning. This curriculum makes for great conversation at home and helps me make sure they’re learning more about Jesus!
Learning to type correctly is a skill that will benefit my girls for years to come. I know there are lots of free keyboarding programs, however the one we found is only $10/ year per kid and is educational while learning how to type with interactive games and fun activities for your child. The program we use is Keyboarding without Tears. If you have heard of Handwriting without Tears, it is the same company.
#9 What is your schedule for homeschooling?
The best part about homeschooling is that it does not take 6-8 hours each day.
The amount of time it takes will depend on the age of your child.
For us so far, here are some general times that work for us.
Preschool and kindergarten, we did about 30 min – 1 hour /day.
1st grade – 4th grade was about 1.5 hours – 2 hours with me helping with math and English and then they have independent work that takes about 1 hour.
I recommend having a schedule or routine in place. You don’t necessarily have to have times next to it, but have things in an order you want them accomplished in. Just know, the schedule never goes perfectly to plan! Also, I alternate my girls with their main subjects so they get a mental break.
#10 How do you set up your home for homeschooling?
First of all, you DO NOT need a specific homeschool room or space!
This year was the first year that we set up our kids playroom and made it a homeschool room as well. Which really just means we have some desks in there. I don’t have the walls decorated with awesome school banners. I hang their art work on the wall. Most of the time, we don’t even do school at their desks. Their desks serve as a spot for their school work and books. We do school at the kitchen table, living room floor, couch, playroom floor, and their bedrooms! Really, however they feel comfortable that day and depending on the material.
I just suggest you have a space to keep all school supplies together. Whether that is on a bookshelf, a closet, or in an office! We’ve done all of these!
What else do I need to know about Homeschooling?
#11 Seriously, what about socialization?
This was one of our first concerns. However, we quickly learned this is one of the biggest misconceptions with homeschooling because we were under the assumption that a school is the only place to teach effective socialization.
Let me explain…..
Socialization is to teach your children proper social life skills, learn to behave appropriately and learn to interact with a wide variety of people.
Have you ever sat and observed elementary or junior high students? Overall, are you impressed by their behavior or saddened because of their behavior towards other students?
Personally for us, we wanted our girls to learn proper social behavior from us and other adults, not children their age. In this PBS article, a study they referenced also showed less behavior problems in homeschooled children.
We quickly learned as a homeschooling family that we are out in society more often with people of all ages, races and backgrounds. There are numerous activities to get involved with, such as church activities, the zoo, library opportunities, YMCA classes, 4H, camps, volunteering, and more!
Personally, two recent encounters on this topic jumped out at me. We were at a restaurant and the waiter asked me what our girls (ages 9, 6, and 4 at the time) wanted to eat. I told him they would like to order themselves. He was taken back. He said he was shocked they wanted to talk to him because he said most kids would not even look him in the eye.
Another time, my 6 year old daughter and I were at an outdoor mall. I saw two mature woman sitting at an outside table and asked if they would be willing to take our picture. After, my daughter initiated a 10 min conversation with them telling them all about her sisters and why we were out shopping that day. Totally unprompted by me. However I loved that she felt confident and comfortable enough to talk with anyone and be polite.
Can there be homeschoolers that are social misfits? Sure. However, there can also be children from a traditional school setting that are social misfits as well.
#12 KEEP IT SIMPLE
BEST advice I got my first year homeschooling. KEEP IT SIMPLE!
Pick one curriculum / book you want to follow and remember that LESS is more, especially when you’re starting out. We started with Classical Conversations and then have built on and added more each year. Remember, it’s amazing how much your child will learn just from you reading books.
#13 RANDOM TIPS
DO NOT compare yourself to other moms or their kids to your kids! Every family is different, every child learns differently. The beauty of homeschooling is finding what works for each individual, so it should and will look different!
- You will question yourself, this is normal!
- I lose my patience often and I yell.
- My kids are not perfect, and yours won’t be either.
- Every kid is different. What worked for your first might not work for your #2, #3, #4, etc!
- YOU are their mother. You know what’s best for them. Trust your gut!
Biggest Take-a-way….. YOU CAN DO THIS!
I hope this blog gave you the confidence to know that you CAN be a homeschooling mom if this is on your heart!
Also, hopefully you were able to pull some practical tips to get started TODAY!
Find out what your state requires, get plugged in with other homeschooling moms, find curriculum you want to start with, have your kids involved in activities outside your home and KEEP IT SIMPLE!
If you are considering homeschooling, please share with me what was helpful or what fears you still may have!
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