Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How to Start Homeschooling


The decision to homeschool is usually made with a lot of enthusiasm, but may also create a few feelings of anxiety and concern. The big picture can be overwhelming! By organizing your thoughts and gathering resources, the journey can be enjoyable and workable. Here are some tips that may help you as you begin the rewarding journey into homeschooling.
  • Develop your family’s homeschool philosophy. Reading books about homeschooling and the reasons for doing it is a good place to start. After learning about the perks of schooling your children at home, you’ll be ready to draw up your own philosophy. Writing it onto a document that you can re-read when you need re-evaluate can help you keep on track. Two excellent resources that will help you establish your personal philosophy are books by Ellen White and Dr. Raymond Moore. Both are Seventh-day Adventist pioneers: one in Adventist church history and the other who is known as the grandfather of homeschooling in America. Other Christian homeschool educators and some secular educators also have helpful ideas related to homeschooling and their books could be helpful as you develop your educational platform. This platform contains the principles that best help you achieve your educational goals and they become the core of your homeschool lifestyle.
  • Research homeschooling laws for your state. Some may require that you take a “how to” class if you don’t have some college credits. Others may require a cover school or specify how records are kept. Here is a link that tells about thelaws by state. The link also shares a listing of nationwide homeschool support groups by state. Most states require that you register with the local school district, completing an “intent to homeschool” form. It is a simple document that helps you meet local compliance regulations and will keep your child from being declared truant. This is only necessary after your child has reached the designated age required for enrollment.
  • Research legal defense organizations that assist homeschoolers. Decide if this is something that would benefit your family and then follow through to sign-up for the service you choose. This can create peace of mind and membership helps support the larger community of home educators throughout America. One such organization is the Home School Legal Defense Association.
  • Set up a space for your children to learn. A relaxed approach could simply mean a bookcase, bean bag chairs, and a low table. Some like a more formal classroom set up with desks, chairs, and marker boards. Then, name your school. This is helpful for your children, as it gives them a school to name when they are out and about in the community and they are asked where they go to school. It gives them a sense of place and belonging.
  • Plan your course of study; a list of subjects that your student is to investigate. Your plan should include the subject matter, curriculum requirements and standards that you want your children to meet by the time the school year is over. World Book offers recommendations for a typical course of study on their website. Standards are outlined for preschool through grade 12. Additionally, your course of study can be expanded to include other aspects of the wholistic education that Ellen White outlines in her book, Education. This would include the additional study of the scriptures, work, service and nature.
  • Start planning how you will implement your course of study. Choose resources, textbooks, and learning materials that will help you achieve your goals. A teacher lesson plan book, a journal, and a calendar are helpful tools. Some parents like to plan an entire school year in advance, yet others prefer to divide the school year into smaller segments, either quarter or semester. Allow yourself space to be flexible, as your homeschool should meet the individual needs of your children. Resources are available from your local teacher supply store, from curriculum companies online, and from your Adventist Book Center.
  • Attend a local or statewide curriculum fairThis is highly recommended, as they are a great gathering place for vendors of educational materials designed specifically for homeschool families.
  • Find or create a support group so that you and your children can interact and enjoy the companionship of like-minded individuals. Field trips, playdates, music recitals, science fairs, and art exhibits are some of the things that homeschool families can do in conjunction with other homeschoolers. Likewise, join online homeschool support groups such as SDA Homeschool Families on Facebook. They provide a safe place to ask questions, share concerns, and learn about resources that are specific to Adventist homeschool families. Additionally, some communities have a homeschool resource center or lending library where they can cooperatively share science equipment, physical education gear, resource and textbooks, musical instruments, and more. Reach out to others for support. Be a part of a larger community and make homeschooling a cooperative effort. Finding a mentor who is experienced in homeschooling can also be helpful. Their expertise can help you move forward in a positive way, avoiding the pitfalls that they may have faced.

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