Public schools and private schools, charter schools and magnet schools, and now there are even virtual schools. There are so many options for school and sometimes it’s hard to tell which option is best for your child and your family. As a mom, you want the best education for your child, right? So whether your child is almost six or still in the womb, you are going to think about where to enroll them in school. And homeschool may be on your list of considerations. I can’t tell you that homeschooling is the best choice … because it isn’t the best choice for everyone. But if homeschooling is on your list of options, I can tell you a little about what you can expect and how to get started.
When I first decided to homeschool, I thought if I just did a little research online then I could figure out how to get started and we would be rolling right along. And then I quickly discovered I was in over my head. Do we want to use traditional or classical homeschooling methods? Should I unschool? Or go with the Charlotte Mason, Montessori, or Waldorf styles? What curriculum should I buy? Well, of course, I want my son to learn about this subject and that subject, but will he learn it now or when he is a teenager? I was so confused!
If you have started your own research, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.
Okay, so where to really start? Step away from the research! It’s nice to know all those fancy terms for how you may decide to homeschool your children but ultimately, they won’t help you when you are first starting out. This is the advice I have for you after my many trials and errors in the pathway to starting our homeschool journey.
Join Local Homeschool Groups
The most important thing I have discovered about starting the process of homeschooling is to find the homeschool community that fits your personality right away. The support and advice you will receive from this group will get you through any tough times. A good homeschool group will remind you of what you do for your child when you doubt yourself and your ability to teach. Your homeschool group will be there to keep you company when you feel isolated. They will suggest new ways to learn and great places to discover. They will share their failures so you can avoid them yourself and they will listen to your own failures and remind you of your successes.
Look on Facebook for active homeschool groups in your area. Ask your local library if they have any homeschool activities or meetings coming up. Contact your church about any groups they know of in the area. Check with your neighborhood organizer or call community meeting places. Once you find one group to join, you will learn about more. They are out there, so do not give up until you find at least one active group to join. Then make it a point to join them at the events they organize. It is important to meet them in person so you can get to know them better and start sharing information.
Discover How Your Child Learns Best
Join your homeschool group in a bunch of educational activities and watch to see how your child interacts and learns. Does he like to learn on his own? Does he like to watch as the other kids play or perhaps he leads the group himself? What information did he take away from the experiences and what was he most excited about? You can buy all the course plans and curriculum you want but if you don’t understand how your child learns, it will just be money wasted and frustration when your child dreads school.
Take this into consideration for every aspect of your homeschool too. I learned this the hard way when I kept pushing my son to think of me as his teacher now that we were homeschooling. Every time I would mention that I was now his teacher, he would get upset with me. It took some time to realize that he only wanted me to be his mom and that didn’t mean I couldn’t teach him everything that I wanted to.
Enroll Your Child in School
Even if you choose to homeschool, you’ll still need to “enroll” your child in school. Here in Florida, there are two main options for doing this. You can register your student as a homeschooler with the county or within an umbrella school. An umbrella school is a private school for homeschooled families. There is no actual building or curriculum; instead, it helps you to comply with attendance laws. Both options have their pros and cons so make sure to ask around your homeschool group to see what they like about each choice.
Keep Evaluating The Process
As your child grows, you may have to change everything about your homeschool. The children in your homeschool group may not have the same interests anymore or perhaps they don’t challenge your child enough. Maybe the method or curriculum you have been using just isn’t working the same way. Or the umbrella school you are enrolled in prevents your child from participating in an extracurricular they want to be a part of. Reevaluate your homeschool plan often to make sure it is fitting your child’s needs as well as your family’s needs. The best part about homeschooling is that it can be as flexible as you need it to be.