Way back before we started homeschooling our kids my husband and I had many discussions about educational options. I was a more traditional let’s send them to school and do what “normal” people do kind of person and he was all about allowing our kids to make their own path, more of an unschooling attitude. Things changed when we moved in next door to our wonderful friend, a director at a homeschooling resource center, and his family. We realized that there were more educational options that that we hadn’t investigated. Additionally our community had quite a few families at that time who were or were planning to homeschool or unschool their children. All of this normalized homeschooling for us and opened our minds to the possibility. We decided to homeschool and entered our oldest one day a week at a resource center for homeschooled and unschooled kids. She thrived there and fell in love with learning. It’s now been five years since she first started at the homeschooling resource center and started on her journey of life learning, she continues to thrive.
Once you’ve made your decision to homeschool or unschool your children, or even if you’re still on the fence, here are some tips to get started.
Build or join a homeschooling / unschooling community
The best way to start homeschooling is to seek out others in your area or online who homeschool. Building a community or becoming part of one is helpful in normalizing homeschooling (unschooling) for you and your children makes it easier to let go and let them learn. Yahoo Groups is a great place to find online and local homeschooling groups. You can also reach out to other home educators on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. On Twitter doing search on #homeschooling #unschooling #homeed and #lifelearning will help you get connected with others going down the same path. Check out your local library for events during the day where you might run into other families who homeschool or even start your own group and invite others to join.
Learn the laws and requirements of homeschooling for your state
Each state is different and goes by a different set of laws. Some states have strict reporting laws which require, registration with the district, annual portfolios and standardized testing (I live in one of these) and other states have little oversight and don’t even require reporting. You can find information about your state’s homeschooling requirements by going to the education department website for your state. Additionally the Homeschooling Legal Defense Association has a great listing of the homeschooling laws in each state.
Start slow and let the child lead the way
This is the hardest part. When we first started to homeschool I jumped in with both feet and went crazy on structure, workbooks and looked at tons of expensive curriculums which, thankfully, I didn’t buy. This may not be your path. You have to do what works for you and your family but keep in mind learning is not a race. Don’t worry, there is plenty of time, go at your child’s pace and don’t worry if you’re not fully replicating what they would be learning in school. You chose to homeschool for a reason, keep that reason in mind.
One other thing to keep in mind as you get started is time. If you spread an entire school year out over a calendar year it amounts to 2.5 hours a day, us homeschoolers have that working in our favor. Just do at least 2.5 hours of engaging and enriching activity with your child a day, you will be fine.