We just started a crazy, fun and unconventional journey: we’re going to start homeschooling. I had been thinking about it for a while, but I never felt capable, I just didn’t know if I was going to leave important information or skills out. For this reason I kept thinking I couldn’t do it, and when I’ve tried I felt like I was not good enough. Have you ever felt this way? Well, I talked to a friend and she told me to simply go with the flow and have fun. And that’s what were going to do.
Now, let’s be honest, I’ve felt so overwhelmed about the following:
- How to get started
- How to get or build a curriculum
- Should I purchase a homeschooling plan?
- How to meet the State’s and his grade’s standards
- What to implement and what to leave out
- How to make him learn and feel engaged
- How to make him socialize
- Do we have to create a routine?
- Where to start…
Well, this is exactly the reason why I’m writing this article, to hopefully help other parents willing to homeschool too. Please keep in mind my son is almost 3.5 years old, he’s technically in Preschool. I’ve found numerous programs and resources for his age, so here it goes:
1. Choose a style
First, keep in mind,
- What values do you want to form in your children? Do you want it to be towards a specific religion?
- What will be your educational philosophy?
- How long will you homeschool? Will your child go to a regular school later on? Will you go year by year, or do you have a set of goals for your children’s education?
- Are there any family circumstances that would affect your homeschooling journey (medical, financial or personal)?
- Do you want to choose a specific homeschooling style or are you willing to implement different techniques from different styles?
It would be a good idea to meditate over this, put it in writing if you have to, but try to narrow your options as much as possible. Here are the different kinds of approaches
- Traditional Homeschooling
- Electric Homeschooling
- Clasical Homeschooling
- Montessori Homeschooling
- Homeschooling with Unit Studies
- Charlotte Mason Homeschooling
- Waldorf Homeschooling
Here’s an awesome resource to read more about each one of them: Types of Homeschooling. Now that you know more about what you want your children to learn (in regards of values) and some how to teach it to them (by any of these types), now we can go ahead and continue answering some other common questions.
2. Meet the State’s Standards
I live in Montgomery County, Maryland. I went ahead and researched the County’s Elementary Academics and found the standards. Of course I wouldn’t want to miss something out because I simply didn’t know about it! This is very specific to the county where I live in, but you can check out your county’s guidelines.
Another way to know what you need to teach your kids and how to make it valid is by knowing the specific standards for your State. Here in Maryland there are 3 options: homeschool under the portfolio option, under a church umbrella or under a state-approved school umbrella.
In our specific case, whatever we choose, we will need to register our child as a homeschool student and inform our county’s educational system superintendent about our plans. Later on we’ll have meetings to monitor my son’s progress. I’m only talking about homeschooling in Maryland though. Check your specific State’s standard, they might not be too different, but it’s always good to be in the safe side.
3. Define the curriculum
There are numerous websites that sell curriculum for homeschool children. They sometimes also sell all the instructions required for that specific year, which can be very neat. In my specific case, my son is in preschool, there’s no much academic content to learn, right now it’s more about building skills, a routine, a schedule and building in him the love for learning. I believe those programs are awesome, but probably for older years, when they really need to learn specific subjects.
OK, so what I do for now? Again, I feel like we need some kind of structure, but I’m not willing to spend a fortune on something my son might not even like. The solution: I created his curriculum! I focused in different subjects to cover month by month and our daily tasks. I don’t go by a schedule (because life happens), I go by completing everything on my list. And so far it’s working for us.
4. Set a routine
Each family and child is different. Some families decide to go by the schedule, some decide to be wild and free. It really depends on how you decide to homeschool and what works for you and your kids. There’s seriously no point on creating an amazing schedule, if it’s not realistic and you won’t be able to follow it.
A Routine will be slowly formed with time. Like Dory says “just keep swimming!” A very good example is how little toddlers don’t just sit and listen to their parents read to them, they usually are busy with their lives. But what do you do? You just keep reading to them and little by little they start paying more attention and they stay sited for longer, until one day, you’re reading for 30 minutes and they are fully engaged. No kid is better than the other, they just need a routine 😉
5. What about socialization!?
This has been a huge topic for me. This is the part where most people step back and decide to do regular schooling. Well, now I know that’s part ignorance and part not being willing to step out off the box. Remember kids don’t only socialize in school, they can make friends everywhere. Here are some good ideas:
- Other home-schooled kids. You do remember they want to socialize too, right?
- Thanks to technology, there are Facebook groups, where they program meetups and activities
- Extracurricular activities: You can register you child to any class on sports, arts, music, etc. By signing up your kids to a class, you’re also allowing your child to function without you being present and actually following instructions from someone else, which they also need
- Local libraries: have you stopped by your local library and checked out their recurrent and seasonal programs lately? They have stuff for everyone! From story time to reading groups, it’s truly fantastic!
- Community centers: many offer very affordable programs of activities for kids of all ages
- State and local parks: search some of them online and see if they have an activity schedule. You can participate in so many different activities, and the best part is that they’re mostly free or at a very low price.
- Volunteering programs. No matter your child’s age, volunteering is an amazing experience for everyone (even yourself!). You can sign up to help clean a park or volunteer at a local 5k.
- DIY: so let’s say NOTHING of what I mentioned works for you, well, you can create a group of home-schooled kids and promote whatever you’re looking for. For example, you can create a weekly meeting to do crafts or a monthly meeting to clean up a lake. The options are infinite, all you need is to want to do it
- Friends and family: if you have family around, with kids around the same age as yours, then you have a great opportunity for them to bond and for you children to socialize. If you don’t have family around, then you can create a community of friends. This is a win-win situation because not only your kids will socialize, but you will too!
6. Set a budget
First, did you know that you get a teachers discount for homeschooling? Pretty neat, right!? Well, if makes sense and it’s quite fair, considering you are a teacher.
Second, to plan a homeschooling budget, there are people that get an specific amount of money per year and do all the shopping in advance, some others like to divide that money into 10 or 12 months and spend only what’s in their budget for that specific month. It’s really up to you.
You can get started with what you have at home already. There’s no point on buying your children the best markers in the world, to later on find out they don’t like using markers at all. I also recommend you buy used stuff, like desks, puzzles, books, boards. Those things have a very long life-spam and you’ll safe a fortune for sure. In regards of purchasing materials, go to stores like the Dollar Store or 5 Below. There’s really no point on spending $10 for something you could buy for $1 or $2. When it’s something you need a lot of, buy them in bulk. That will save you money and time.
7. Find resources
At first you’ll find amazing kits and packages for home-schooled children. If you can afford them, by all means, go for it! If you are struggling, don’t allow that to stop you. There are tons of free resources for home-schoolers.
- You can check out my Pinterest account, I love getting great ideas from there. Check out my boards: Preschool Spring Art Ideas, Preschool Summer Art Ideas, Kids Crafts, Preschool Winter Art Ideas and Preschool Activities
- Follow my Instagram, I’m very active and I post really good ideas and activities
- Crayola has amazing free coloring pages.
- Education.com has Free Worksheets and printables for kids, they have awesome & free resources
- We are Teachers have Free printables. You can choose specific grades too!
These are just some ideas to get you started, but seriously, there are many blogs, Facebook groups; and Instagram and Pinterest accounts to follow
8. Life itself is a classroom
I’ve personally decided to stop looking for the perfect, most amazing curriculum; instead, daily activities can provide so much knowledge, you would be amazed! Some ideas to implement in your life and make your kids a part of:
- Cooking and baking
- Doing DIYs. Chest out The Best DIYs
- Being outdoors
- Field trips
The decision is your. as long as the style, the pace, the curriculum and the time. I’m pretty sure this journey is not for everyone, but if you feel inclined to it, at least give it a try. Remember that if in the end, homeschooling is not for you and your family, you can always turn to regular education. Please comment below about how has been you homeschooling journey an what other resources you’ve implemented, until then, please enjoy the journey!