The Basics – Home School 101. Consider this your introductory course to homeschooling. You’ve been thinking about homeschooling, and have decided to make that leap into the unknown. Or maybe you are still pondering your options – what to do about school this fall. Let’s go over the basics – Home School 101.
Definition of Terms
What do we mean when we talk about homeschooling? The media has been claiming that doing “real” school remotely is homeschooling. Technically, I guess that is true. The kids are doing school at home. But that’s not what we usually refer to as homeschooling.
The official dictionary definition of homeschooling says that it is schooling that is done at home, outside of a formal school, learning done outside a public or private school.
Perhaps a better term for homeschooling is parent-directed learning/schooling. The parents make decisions for the child’s educational process. Parents choose the curriculum and courses or studies. Parents decide what “school” looks like, where it takes place.
So, we can say that homeschooling is a parent-directed education that takes place at home or in other locations of the parent’s choosing. Either the parents or others chosen to assist them, provide the instruction for their children.
And Your Reasons Are?
Parents choose to homeschool their children for many different reasons. Why are you making this choice? What is your thinking behind the decision to homeschool? Your rationale doesn’t have to be the same as anyone else’s reasons.
Why do people choose to homeschool?
- They enjoy having their kids home with them.
- Want to avoid exposure to “corrupting” influences
- Health and safety factors
- Religious/faith issues
- Political issues
- Schedule flexibility
- Greater academic challenges
- Ability to focus on other interests
What are your reasons? It’s a good idea to figure out your reasons and write them down. Someday, when things are not going well, when everyone is having a bad day (or week, or month) you may need to go back and review your reasons. Remind yourself why you made this choice.
Deal with the Legal Stuff
Laws relating to homeschooling differ from state to state. You need to know the requirements in your area and be aware of what you need to do to comply with those laws. If your children have been in school, you need to follow the correct procedure to withdraw them from school. While we desire to keep or expand our freedom to homeschool, we don’t need to offend the school authorities in our areas. So follow the legal requirements. Do things decently and in order. Here is a great site to check the legal issues in your state.
Details, Always the Details
Details always matter. So we need to pay attention to details. Yes, even when homeschooling. So what do you need to consider as you start this school year? Let me list some for you. The following list is NOT complete, but it will get you thinking about some things, at least.
- How will you keep track of what you are doing or what you plan to do?
- What assignments will you grade?
- How will you keep track of grades?
- How or where will you store school supplies and books?
- Where will you “do” school?
- How will you handle distractions? Yes, there will be distractions! Don’t let them ruin your day.
- What things are you required to keep records of, legally?
Proceed to the Fun Stuff
Ah, yes, the fun stuff. Books, school supplies, decorations, games, experiments – definitely the fun stuff. But don’t let the necessary get lost in fun. Be sure you have the materials you need to teach your subjects, and then add the fun extras. It is so easy to go overboard on additional books, activities, supplementary videos, art, projects – be careful! Not only can you spend way too much money on these things, but you can also easily overwhelm both your children and yourself. (Advice from the person who just collected six more boxes of books to add to the overflowing bookshelves.)
And They’re Off – Time to Get Started!
Let’s see; you decided to homeschool, you have taken care of any legal requirements, you have chosen your materials, you have collected the fun stuff. What’s next? Time to get started!
Pick a start date. It can be the same time as your neighborhood schools begin. It could be after the last summer vacation. Or perhaps you will choose to wait until after Labor Day to start. There is no right or wrong choice – just choose what will work best for you.
Make a plan for a memorable first day. Maybe it will be pictures or a field trip. You could choose something as simple as decorating new folders. Start your school year off with something your kids will remember.
Get started! You don’t need to have all the answers to every potential problem before beginning the school year. Just start! And when you come across something you need help with or need answers to, write it down and later search for the answers. Talk to a friend. Get in touch with me.
The Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days
You will have bad days. Consider this fair warning. They will happen. Bad days are not so much the problem; it’s how you handle the bad days that can be problematic. Sometimes it helps just to put everything away, pack everyone up, and go to the park. Or for a walk through the neighborhood. Or just put the schoolwork aside and play a game together or have quiet reading time.
The main thing is not to let homeschooling overwhelm you. Be prepared, be optimistic, be flexible, be understanding. You can do this! Homeschool parents are not superbeings. We are all just like you – working our way through the homeschool journey. Some days are great, other days – not so much. One day at a time! Have a long-range plan, but work on a day-by-day basis.
Are you finding this all overwhelming? Are you stuck, not knowing what to do next? Need help? Get in touch! That’s why I’m here – to help you navigate through these issues. Schedule a coaching session and let’s work together to solve the problems you are facing, to get you ready for this year’s homeschool adventure.