Every day, we hear from parents who are new to homeschooling. They have made a decision to take charge of their child’s education. Understandably, they have tons of questions. They are confused, worried, and frustrated, not to mention overwhelmed with the seemingly endless amount of information available.
Many of them never even had plans to homeschool. They envisioned their kids attending an A-rated school where they’d have dedicated teachers and friendly classmates and receive a top notch education. But for various reasons, homeschooling is now their reality. Does this sound like your story?
You’re Not Alone!
If you can relate to being an accidental homeschooler, you’re not alone. A large number of families who homeschool fall into this category. Some have children who aren’t thriving in school, while others are bored because they’re not being challenged enough. Other students have been bullied to the point that they’re scared of going back to their brick and mortar school.
There are also military families and road-schoolers who are constantly on the move, families dealing with health issues that prevent their children from attending school on a regular basis, and families whose children’s schedules are full with the goals and hobbies they are pursuing and who need the added flexibility of homeschooling. For whatever reason, traditional schools just didn’t work, and a new plan became necessary…homeschooling.
No matter what scenario you find yourself in, know that you are not alone. There are support groups out there, helpful co-ops and other families who’ve been in your shoes and know what it’s like.
Tips for the Journey
Here are a few basics to keep in mind and help you get started on this amazing adventure:
Let your child relax.
If you’re an accidental homeschooler, chances are your child was at school for some period of time. Before you officially begin homeschooling, it’s important to take some time off and allow yourselves to get out of the school routine. Having your child complete simple lessons or worksheets (to keep the learning going) will give him a taste of what schooling will be like at home, yet will also allow him to relax and decompress.
Get to know your child.
Just like educators have a particular style of teaching that works best for them, students too have a learning method they favor. There are a number of learning styles that affect how a child learns: visual, verbal, logical, kinesthetic, solitary. Finding the one that works best for your child can make a huge difference in how interested your student is in the material, as well as impacting how well she learns and retains information. During your period of “deschooling,” try to determine how your child learns best. This information can help you make a more informed decision when it comes time to buy a learning program. The last thing you want to do is waste your money on a curriculum that may not work.
Learn your state’s laws.
Each state’s requirements are different when it comes to homeschooling. If your child is currently attending a traditional school, be sure to notify the school, and perhaps even your state, about your plans to homeschool. Other questions to consider include the following: Does your state require testing? Do you need to keep records? Do you need certain qualifications to teach your child? Your local school district can tell you.
Yes, you have a schedule to keep, lesson plans to follow, and work to get done, but keep in mind that sometimes things will not go as planned. Fun and learning should go hand in hand, so don’t be afraid to bend the rules if the opportunity arises.
Meet other homeschoolers.
Find out if there are any homeschool groups or co-ops in your area. This is a wonderful way to meet other like-minded families who could give you helpful tips and information on homeschooling. Plus, it’s a great opportunity for your children to make new friends and socialize.
Yes, homeschooling is a daunting task to take on. No one said it would be easy, but you’re doing what is best for your child right now. There will be days when you want to cry and give up, but there will also be days when you can’t stop smiling, laughing, and perhaps even crying tears of joy. As a homeschooler, and as a parent, you have to be able to take the good with the bad.
Homeschooling is a fun journey that will allow you to create many memories with your children, memories that they will hopefully look back on one day with happiness and gratitude.
With all the freedom and flexibility that comes with homeschooling, think of all the goals and hobbies that your children can now pursue.
Encourage them, support them, and allow them to Dream Big.