Homeschooling does not have to be a scary thing. You really don’t have to be afraid! Take heart that you will not ruin your children for life! But there are several good principles to keep in mind.
If you are in the thinking stages, find several wise homeschool moms that have gone through the process and various stages of homeschooling. Take note of their kids. Do they have discipline, are they respectful, does mom seem fairly calm, do they read? What do they read? I offer these questions because a mom who has disrespectful children who aren’t disciplined to do school work, and instead play video games all day, etc. may not be the one you want to talk with about homeschooling. Certainly there are days in every homeschool that look like the description above, but overall, seek these moms out.
Once you have some mentors, begin to ask LOTS of questions. Ask about their curriculum, what they like, what they do not like. Make lists of books and websites that you would like to study further. Begin to read books, yourself. Read classic books on homeschooling (Susan Wise Bauer, Lost Tools of Learning are some to start with), look for articles and ask others for book recommendations. Armed with your lists and newfound knowledge, consider visiting some homeschool curriculum fairs or seminars.
Next, begin to consider where, in your home, you will ‘do’ school. A dining room, extra bedroom or basement may all have extra space where you can spread out for school. Buy a few small bookcases for organizing your supplies. Stock up on paper, notebooks, pencils, pens, etc. You certainly don’t need to re-create a public school room, but you do need a place for all your books and supplies. Other things you may need would be a good wall map, a chalk or white board, art supplies, table and light…yes LOTS of light. I say this because my first year of homeschooling was in a room without windows and I would not recommend this. Bright rooms, with music (classical is best, but vary your music palate some!) will help to create an inviting learning environment.
Finally, consider the schedule. Morning should include the more difficult subjects. If you continue into the afternoon (middle and high school), consider lighter subjects. Choose one or two afternoons for music, art or sports and consider using the time for errands yourself (groceries, pharmacy, grading papers). The schedule will serve as a guide…don’t become rigid with the schedule. Be a flexible homeschool mom and consider a spontaneous day off, trips to the library, free-read afternoon or field trip.
One thing not addressed in this article is how to be ‘official’ with your county. Each county in Maryland has a ‘homeschool coordinator’ at the county education office and they all function a little differently. Check on the county website or call a main phone number. The coordinator will send forms that need to be filled out and will ask you to provide curriculum information. You will visit with the coordinator once or twice a year and these visits just insure that schooling is actually occurring at home.
Finally, look for a good co-op or support group that can provide friendships for you and for your children, support and some extra classes that your children may enjoy. Homeschool facebook pages are a good place to start!
Have fun…these years go by so quickly and while some days will be hard or frustrating, consider that you are giving your child much more than knowledge. You are giving them memories, security, time at home to do activities with you, time to invest in personal interests like music or art! Enjoy!