Building a Strong Foundation
Know your State Laws – It is important to know what the legal requirements are so you can transition successfully. While many states allow you to homeschool without any oversight, there are some states with ongoing requirements for homeschoolers. If you are in one of those states, make sure you keep up with any changes in reporting or curriculum laws for homeschoolers.
Decisions, Decisions – Spend some time thinking about what type of homeschool family you want to be. Do you want to be eclectic, mixing textbooks and online classes from different sources? Do you want to keep it simple, getting everything from one source whether it’s a complete package or enrollment in an online school? Or do you want to be an unschooler learning by making the world around you the classroom? Done right, they can all work very well.
Build your curriculum – If you decide to buy a complete package as many new homeschoolers, do some research and find what works for your family. Read reviews preferably written by unbiased families who have actually used the curriculum. Many families start with a pre-selected package from a single publisher but soon find themselves using curriculum from many different sources. Sometimes the best curriculum is no curriculum at all. There is no better way to learn about nature than going outside! Remember flexibility is one of the greatest things about homeschooling. Don’t be afraid to change direction if something isn’t working for you.
Our Homeschool Classroom – Some homeschool families have a designated area or even a room dedicated to their educational activities. The younger your children, the more likely you are going to want a “Homeschool Room”. If this is something you want to do, let your kids help you design it and decorate it. Especially for the younger kids, make it a part of the transition from public school.
Keep records – This becomes more important as the students approach the Junior High School years. Its good to get in the habit to prepare for High School documentation where transcripts become very important. Learn to take extracurricular activities and turn them into positive entries. Everything your homeschoolers do can help them get into college. More information is available in the Homeskoolery.com page on making High School Transcripts
Take it slow – Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If it’s just too much today, plan a field trip or go to the park. A rigid all day schedule is not an ideal homeschool environment. Don’t try to recreate a public school day. The flexible schedule and relaxed atmosphere are two of the main reasons that homeschooling works so well.
Some states will have fewer core class requirements for homeschoolers than for High School Graduation. This is done to allow the homeschoolers more freedom. Even though this is a good thing, you should still keep in mind that certain amount of core classes may be required at the college level for admission.
Often homeschool families will avoid taking college entrance exams like the ACT feeling that the quality education they provided at home should be good enough. Keep in mind the college entrance administrators who are making the decisions don’t know your child. A good score on an entrance exam adds validity to your high school transcripts and the grade your student received.