Congratulations, you've made the decision to homeschool. So now what? Before you pull your kids out of school and get to work, you need to be prepared.
With some research and support, you'll be homeschooling before you know it. Follow these tips to get started on homeschooling.
Check the homeschooling laws
It's essential you understand the homeschool laws before you get started. While some states are very relaxed in their approach toward homeschooling, others have more rigid guidelines and regulations. The strict states require regular reporting, submission of test scores, evaluations by outside professionals and sometimes home visits by state officials. Read our article about understanding homeschooling laws in your state. Also check HSLDA.org, where you can become familiar with the specific laws, filing requirements, record-keeping expectations and other regulations in your area.
Read more about how to start homeschooling your child >>
Research homeschooling methods
Today, you have a number of different philosophies, methods and approaches to choose from when it comes to home education. Here is a brief overview of the more common homeschooling methods.
Traditional method — Your homeschool would be set up just like a public school with a complete curriculum and traditional grading system. It's just like a traditional school, but at home.
Classical education method — The basis of this Christian homeschooling method is based on author Dorothy Sayers' well-known essay, The Lost Tools of Learning. The Well-Trained Mind is a great resource for exploring this method.
Charlotte Mason method — British educator Charlotte Mason developed a three-pronged education approach centered around atmosphere (home environment), discipline (good habits) and life (teaching living thoughts and ideas). This is one of the more popular homeschooling methods.
Montessori method — You've probably heard about Montessori preschool, and the same concepts from Dr. Maria Montessori translate into homeschooling, too. The Montessori method is based on the idea that learning is a natural, self-directed process.
Eclectic method — An eclectic homeschooling family takes bits and pieces from a variety of different methods to form their own homeschooling philosophy.
Unschooling — In recent years, unschooling (child-led learning) has become a more common approach to homeschooling.
A variety of other homeschooling methods are available including the Unit Studies Approach, Waldorf Education method, The Principle Approach and many more. In a future article, we will delve deeper into finding the right homeschooling method for your family.
Read about why so many parents are choosing homeschool >>
Examine your child's learning style
Consider your child's personality, strengths and weaknesses, as well as their dominant learning style. Some children are visual processors, learning best by seeing, while others are auditory processors and learn by listening. Other children do best by doing. These kids are dubbed kinesthetic or tactile processors. Your child's learning style can be broken down even further -- into linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, naturalistic and other learning types. Think about what has worked best for your child at home and school, when it comes to learning and play.
Discover your child's learning style >>
Choose a homeschooling curriculum
When it comes to curriculum, you can purchase a complete homeschool curriculum, buy textbooks and workbooks separately, create hands-on activities and projects, make supplemental lapbooks, use computer programs and much more. The amount of homeschooling curriculum available can be overwhelming. In future articles, we will review some of the major curriculum available to give you an idea of what's out there. Homeschool-Curriculum.org and Cathy Duffy Reviews are terrific resources for discovering different homeschooling curriculum.
It takes a village -- even when you are homeschooling. You can find a number of homeschool support and networking resources both online and in your community. You can join a local homeschool co-op, support groups of like-minded homeschooling moms in your city, online homeschooling groups through Yahoo Groups and other websites, and online homeschooling communities such as homeschool.com. Though no two homeschooling experiences are exactly alike, you can learn a lot from homeschooling parents who have been there and done that.
More homeschooling tips