Wednesday, January 27, 2016

My 10 Tips/ Advice for New and Potential Homeschoolers


As the school year is rapidly coming to an end, many parents are faced with the question of what to do next year concerning their child's education. The thought of homeschooling, virtual schooling, or unschooling can seem intimidating. Not to mention, knowing how to actually get started can be confusing and overwhelming. So, I have decided to write my 10 tips and advice for potential homeschoolers and new homeschoolers. I know that this isn't a fun post, but hopefully it will be helpful. 

*Before beginning this journey, pray about it and decide if this is really for you and your family. It can be done, but it takes a lot of dedication and determination to be successful. If you are led down this path, just know that you can do it! The homeschooling community is always there to help and support you! We are everywhere. :-)

1. Research and Read the laws for your state. Make sure that you are in compliance! 
There are a list of laws regarding homeschooling in every state. In the state of Georgia, you can go to http://www.ghea.org/ (Georgia Home Education Association) to read the laws and requirements. You will also find resources such as standardized testing materials and information, curriculum suggestions, and much more. Don't live in Georgia? You can find your state's laws here https://www.hslda.org/laws/

2. Sign any forms or turn in any required documents to your Board of Education.
After reading your state's laws and requirements, you will have a list of documents to turn in. Usually, these consist of a Letter of Intent, attendance records, portfolios, progress reports, or test scores. The requirements are different for every state, so it is important to know what your state's Board of Education will need from you. Please make sure to turn them in on time! 

3. Keep a record of everything!!
Although, my state does not require you to mail in attendance or test scores, I keep them for my records. You never know when illness may cause you to have to send your kids to public school temporarily or when laws may change. You want to make sure that each school year is well documented in case you ever have show documentation. *Extra tip: Keep a copy of writing assignments and math work for an added bonus*

4. Choose a homeschooling method. 
You now know that homeschooling is the way to go, but what method of homeschooling should you choose? Okay, there is eclectic (relaxed) homeschooling, the Charlotte Mason, the school-at-home method, unschooling, virtual schooling, classical homeschooling...... The list goes on. For a detailed look and definition of the different methods of homeschooling visit http://www.homeschool.com/new/difstyles.asp. Looking for an online public school approach? Visit K12 http://www.k12.com/ or Connections Academy http://www.connectionsacademy.com/. There is a virtual school in your state! 

5. Decide on a curriculum. Unschoolers excluded :-)
I wish that I could list them all here, but I can't . Research homeschool curriculum and find the one that works for your family. You can choose from Christian based, Secular, Online, FREE, boxed (everything is included, but some can be expensive), or build your own. For tips on how to build your own curriculum see my video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHiHLi0xPGQ

6. Find your child's learning style.
Learning can be so much easier when you find the way your child learns best. Some children learn by sight, some by hearing, and some by doing. Learning your child's own individual learning style can make planning your lessons so much easier, and make it more fun for your child. For example, if your child is a visual learner, watching the movie of the literature reading that they are studying can bring the story to life for your child. Watching a video of a math lesson can clear up confusions for a visual learning, a kinesthetic learner might have to actually write out the problems to understand, and an auditory learner might get more from hearing a lecture. For a quiz on learning style see this site http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/parent-child/quiz-whats-your-childs-learning-style

7. Prepare for the new school year!
This can be an exciting time for every homeschooling parent no matter what method you will be using. You have control of your child's education. You can make school fun and exciting for your child! Make lesson plans, gather materials, shop for school supplies, organize your homeschool room (if you are using one). Get ready, it's going to be an exciting ride! 

8. Find support.
This may be the most important tip that I give. Surround yourself with people who will support you, who believe in you, and who will be cheering you on. You will be faced with so many negative views, comments, and opinions by those who don't understand why you have chosen this journey. Don't be discouraged by those who mean well, but are misguided. Learn to take the skepticism and move on. No one homeschools to hurt or hinder a child. If you have taken on this responsibility, I am sure that you will give it everything that you've got. Parents who are dedicated and determined to give their children the best education possible are never unsuccessful at homeschooling. Let the results speak for themselves. I have adopted the, "Father, forgive them, for they know nothing about homeschooling" response. :-)

9. Relax, you've got this!
Each day will be different. Some days will be great, some days won't. That's life. Just know that you can do this! On the days when it's not going well, stop and regroup. Go out for ice cream, go to the mall, go to the park, and do your work there. The possibilities are endless.  

10. Have fun!
Enjoy each and everyday with your children. Enjoy every milestone, every smile, every laugh, every hug, and every opportunity to experience life. These moments are priceless. Being a parent is for life, but parenting/homeschooling are only temporary. Savor every moment. These moments become life- long memories. Your children may not remember every math lesson that you taught, but I guarantee  that they will remember the memories and experiences you created together. 


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