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3 Things new homeschool parents should know

Caroline Duda is a Senior Marketing Coordinator for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized experiences to accelerate academic achievement.

Homeschooling is complicated... so keep these tips in mind

You’ve notified your school district. You’ve conducted Internet search after Internet search, and you’ve purchased your first set of books. You've even planned your first weeks of lessons. It’s back-to-school season, and you’re all set up as a homeschool parent — right?

Homeschooling is a complex process, and even seasoned homeschool parents encounter new scenarios and complications each year. The below information may not be immediately apparent to new practitioners, but it can be of great use. If you are contemplating homeschooling your student, or if you just begun this year, here are three things you should know:

1. Your state may partially determine your curriculum

Families choose homeschooling for a variety of reasons, curricular flexibility among them. No two children learn the same way, and no two students have identical interests. One child might master math from a textbook alone, while another student might require a hands-on application of a given principle. As a homeschooling parent, you’ll be able to develop a class schedule that suits you and your child, and you’ll likely be able to select your own instructional methods and materials. It is important to note, however, that homeschooling will not afford you total freedom. Your state may require you to teach a minimum number of subjects, or it may ask your student to participate in standardized testing. As soon as you decide to homeschool, visit your state’s board of education website to determine what mandates exist.

2. Your community is a key resource

No homeschooling parent knows everything, just as no teacher is an expert in every academic subject. Your child may ask a question you don’t know the answer to, or she may be interested in a subject that eludes you. This doesn't mean that you’ve failed at homeschooling — it just makes you human! In such instances, consider turning to your community for assistance. Is there a museum where you and your student can explore a new history topic? Is there a musician in your neighborhood who can offer your child composition lessons? Do your fellow homeschoolers have articles, books, or lesson plans they can share with you? Remember "community" can be both physical (i.e. your neighbors) and digital (i.e. a national Facebook group).

3. Your experience will evolve with time

As you no doubt realize, homeschooling your student is a tremendous undertaking. You may be leaving a job to do so, or you may be significantly rearranging your family’s schedule to accommodate your child's education. During the first year of homeschooling — perhaps even the first month — you may feel nervous, excited and frustrated. You may feel lost or overwhelmed. This is completely normal. Over time, you'll learn which hours work best for teaching, just as you'll learn how to create the best possible environment for content retention. Your student will also learn how to balance her experience of you as an instructor with you as a parent. Chances are you both will make mistakes, but never fear — you can learn from those too!

For more tips and strategies to help your student succeed in school, visit varsitytutors.com.

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