Tips for Getting Started with Homeschooling

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As the school year draws to a close across the country, many of us are already thinking ahead to the fall.  Whether your first child is entering Kindergarten or you’ve had kids in school for years, you may be thinking about your expectations and hopes for the upcoming year.  Perhaps you are even considering not going through with the “school thing” at all.

That was me, a few years ago.  I began to explore homeschooling when our oldest was in preschool, but ultimately decided to send her to school, where she, followed by her younger brother, remained until our family began a relocation odyssey where the final stop was TBD.  Changing schools is not easy on kids, and until we knew for certain where we would settle, we decided to give homeschooling a try prior to what would have been the children’s third school in as many years.

 

Thinking about homeschooling?  Here are some tips to get you started.

 

Talk to Friends

First, if you haven’t done so already, talk to people you know who homeschool, or use your social network to find someone who does.  Chances are, it won’t be very hard to do since homeschooling is rising in popularity as a schooling option.

 

Ask Questions

Don’t be shy about talking to a friend or a new acquaintance you have found who is willing to share their homeschooling experience with you.  Most homeschoolers are proud of what they do, have tremendous knowledge about it, and are eager to share with interested families.  Ask questions such as:

– Which curriculum do you use?

– Are you using any outside programs, co-ops, or online schools?

– How much does (that curriculum or program) cost?

– What social or support groups are in our area, and which (if any) are involved with?

– What has been the most challenging aspect of homeschooling for you?

– What has been the most rewarding?

 

Be a Fly on the Wall

Ask your friend or contact person if you can shadow them for a day.  Visit their home to see what their “school” looks like.  All families are wonderfully different!  Some have a dedicated “school room,” while others spread their work on the kitchen or dining room table between meals.  Getting to see multiple homeschool families in action is a great way to glimpse what your day might be like.

 

Explore Your Options

Today’s homeschoolers have a myriad of options for home learning.  If you knew anyone when you were growing up who was homeschooled, chances are you have a certain presupposition of what homeschooling is like.  Wipe that idea from your mind as you explore options that take homeschooling out of the home and into the community through support groups, co-ops, and programs that offer peer learning opportunities in different settings.  These options range by state and region, so again it is important to talk to local homeschoolers to see what they are using, but you can also search online.  There are numerous websites, blogs, online support groups and Facebook pages, as well as national organizations devoted to sharing state-by-state information regarding homeschooling laws, groups, and other pertinent information.

 

Relax and Enjoy the Ride

All of the information out there can make exploring homeschooling an overwhelming experience, but do not fret!  Just as when you were an expectant mom and perhaps found yourself bogged down by information overload, you will soon find your way as you navigate the vast world of homeschooling opportunities.

 

Further Reading

For more information about homeschooling, check out the Homeschool Legal Defense Association at: http://www.hslda.org/hs/

 Have you ever considered homeschooling?

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About Melissa Yost

Melissa Yost is a Clinical Social Worker with extensive experience practicing child and family therapy. She has a BA in psychology from Boston College and MSW from Boston University. Melissa currently resides in Central Florida with her techie husband, three energetic elementary-aged kids, and one cuddly rabbit. She enjoys running, cooking and gardening with her children, traveling, and spending leisurely Saturdays at the beach.