You have decided you want to homeschool but how do you actually start homeschooling? How do you make sure you are homeschooling legally as well as how do you really educate your children? I will be tackling those two questions today.
If you have been homeschooling for years but feel like you are stuck in a rut you may still benefit from this video as I give some tips and tricks on how to find a method that works for your personality and your family.
I get a lot of questions about how to start homeschooling, or what a person should do when they have decided to homeschool and I wanted to have a good reference post to be able to send people to: hence this post!
If you are contemplating homeschooling or at the beginning of your journey I hope this post can be helpful! If you still have questions after reading this post I would love for you to contact me and I will do my best to try to answer your questions.
WHERE TO START WHEN YOU DECIDE TO HOMESCHOOL
#1 FIGURE OUT THE LEGAL SIDE
I’m not really going to go into this because this part varies so much depending where you live but the first thing you really need to do is find out what you need to do to make your homeschool legal. Where I live this is as simple as registering with our school division but I know the process can vary depending where you live.
#2 DECIDE YOUR PRIORITIES
When I posted the “where to start” question on Instagram awhile ago a lot of people recommended starting with what I have down as step #3, but I personally think that before you can figure out #3 you need to decide your priorities.
You are more than welcome to change your answers but if you decide arts are a big priority for you that could change your direction compared to if you decided nature and outdoors activities were a top priority.
For us big priorities, in no particular order, are: family culture, character development, learning about Christ and to be like Christ and lots and lots of books.
Knowing your top priorities will really help guide your homeschool method, resources you use and your daily schedule.
#3 PICK A HOMESCHOOLING PHILOSOPHY OR METHOD THAT RESONATES WITH YOU
I’m not going to get into the methods now but to read about what are (in my option) the five most popular homeschooling methods you can do that here.
Before you get worried that you have to agree to a homeschool philosophy, let me put your mind at ease, you definitely don’t, plus, one of the methods is “eclectic” which means you pull from a variety of methods and one is “unschooling”.
But, that being said, if you know a particular method resonates with you, say Charlotte Mason, or the classical approach, it makes it easier to find resources. With your philosophy in mind you can go to Google or Pinterest and look for resources that follow that method.
Even if you are starting to homeschool in kindergarten and your kids have never been to school, chances are you have been and you probably need some time to remove old ideas you have about “what school should look like”. Deschooling often is more of a process for the parents than it really is for the kids.
Deschooling helps get rid of a lot of homeschooling misconceptions. The truth is, homeschooling does not have to look like school at home. I appreciate those in the UK who have the term “home educating”, because that is what it really is, it is just learning at home.
When you are ready to jump in with homeschooling, it’s best to start small. Don’t start off by purchasing an all in one curriculum. While I personally don’t like curriculums I know some people enjoy them. I’m not necessarily saying never use a curriculum, I just don’t think the best time to buy one is at the beginning of your homeschool journey.
When you are ready to start, begin with a couple of read alouds and a couple of subjects or topics that interest you or your kids. From there you can decide if a full curriculum is what you want or not.
Using this technique I learned that I view homeschooling as a lifestyle – I like to teach my kids things I’m excited about, dig deeper into topics that interest them and make time for learning and rabbit trails in our day.
Those five points are the basis for starting to homeschool. Once you’ve done these steps you can choose to continue the route you have started down or change things up. Homeschooling is flexible and that is a great perk to take advantage of!
If you like the idea of a homeschooling approach that is relaxed, mostly interest-led, with lots of good books and space in the day for following rabbit trails I would suggest taking my Homeschooling as a Lifestyle Workshop. I’ll be updating the workshop in the next two months and adding a lot of extra content to it and if you enroll now you’ll have first access to the updates.
If are around homeschoolers long enough you’ll start hearing terms like classical education, Charlotte Mason and unschooling thrown around and if you are new to the idea of homeschooling all these different methods and what they mean can get confusing.
I wanted to take what I see to be the 5 most popular homeschooling methods and break them down to give a quick view of the main points to hopefully help steer you in the direction you feel best fit for your family. Once you have an idea of which ones would (or wouldn’t) work for your family it’s easier to do some deeper research and find if it’s truly the method for your family.
A BRIEF SUMMARY OF FIVE HOMESCHOOLING METHODS
A primarily language based method which is literature heavy and makes a point to find links between all the subjects. Such as history and literature, math and science, etc. A classical education also relies heavily on memorization (history dates and more). When I think of classical education I think of the schools depicted in Little House on the Prairie.
Charlotte Mason was born in 1842 and was a teacher in England. She strongly believed that children were eager (and able) to learn. She focused on real life situations, handiwork (as opposed to crafts) and living books over text books or “twaddle” (the junk food of literature). She thought children should be able to finish their lessons in the morning and have the afternoons free to explore nature and read good books.
Unit studies often used in school and many homeschoolers like to use them as well. Unit studies always remind me of elementary school, we would use a theme like “oceans” and that theme would be incorporated into all the subjects, we’d be adding up seahorses in math, read books about underwater sea creatures in language arts, learning about habitats in science, create an underwater collage in art, etc.
If unit studies interest you, Pinterest will be your best friend, there are so many ideas there.
Unschooling is often described as “child-led learning” and it is exactly that, digging deeper into the topics that the kids are interested in and using your every moments as learning and teaching experiences. This doesn’t mean that you always leave schooling up to the child though, as a parent and educator, it’s your job to seek out areas of interest to your children and fill their lives with different experiences. Unschooling also focuses on learning through real life experiences such as play, household responsibilities, travel, and work experience or internships in areas they are interested in.
Eclectic is truly how it sounds, a mash of a number of different methods, taking bit and pieces here and there that work for your family. Those that use more of an eclectic approach will often use parts of a variety of different curriculum (instead of teaching every subject from one curriculum) or will create their own curriculum to create something that works for their individual family.
When I first started to dream about homeschooling I flopped a lot between Charlotte Mason’s method and classical education. I found myself loving certain aspects of each. I knew unit studies weren’t for me because they seemed to involve a lot more planning than I really cared to do. And I really didn’t know much about unschooling until I read An Unschooling Manifesto, despite the fact that I have friends that do it. But as soon as I read that book I was drawn in. The OCD/teacher side of me still wanted a bit of a plan but I knew I also wanted more unschooling in our days than I realized.
So, for our homeschool I am choosing to go for an eclectic approach. We are following The Well-Trained Mind’s suggestions for science (in a bit of an unschooled way), using Ambleside Online’s plan for Bible reading and reading many of their free reading suggestions, math will be more unschooling (well, as much as you can unschool math with a girl who loves workbooks), and history will be literature heavy but we’ll definitely stay longer on the subjects that interest us. The rest I’ve developed a little bit of a plan for but it revolves around reading lots of books and researching subjects and topics as we have questions.
In the upcoming months I’d like to dive a little deeper into the different homeschooling methods but I thought this would serve as a good introduction for many who are at the start of this homeschooling journey.
I’d love to hear what type of homeschooling draws you in, what do you think would or does work best for your family?