Homeschool Starter Guide for the Overwhelmed Mom

Homeschool Starter Guide for the Overwhelmed Mom

I'll be honest. I'm not a seasoned homeschooler with a lot of experience and turned-out successful kids. I've only fumbled my way through almost one year of kindergarten with my daughter while raising my toddler son. Starting out on this journey is still near and dear to my heart. I'm here experiencing it with you in today's world, which is much different from twelve or even six years ago.

When I finally decided that homeschooling was the only option for my kids, I started reading ALL the homeschool blogs I could find. I wanted to know everything! I didn’t want to mess this up. How do you even begin homeschooling? Are there specific requirements? How do I know my child is on track? These are just a few questions I started typing into the search engine. Quickly, I became overwhelmed with all the different options and opinions out there.

How could so many people be experts in this subject, but all have wildly different ways of doing things? Am I a homeschooler or an unschooler? I didn't know unschooler was even a thing... How could so many different curricula possibly exist? I went to bed that night more confused than before. I tossed and turned, wondering what method was best. What curriculum was I supposed to choose?

The following day, as I scrolled through all the inspirational posts on Pinterest while eating my cereal, I was reminded that I am the mom and instinctively know what is best. I stopped looking at all the blogs and started trusting myself. I decided to slow down and take the process one step at a time. I decided I didn’t need all the answers right now; I just needed to start somewhere and adjust as I went.

I realized this would be a learning experience for both of us, and that was okay. In fact, that made it more exciting than ever before. Can we normalize learning with our kids instead of feeling pressured to know all the answers? I knew if this experience was overwhelming for me, it had to be overwhelming for other moms, too. Don't worry, though; I've got you covered! I created this homeschool starter guide that provides the essential information and tips to help you confidently embark on this educational journey.

1. Know the Legal Requirements

Before you begin homeschooling, familiarize yourself with the legal requirements in your country or state. Each jurisdiction has its regulations regarding homeschooling, such as registration, curriculum, and assessment. Understanding these requirements will ensure you are compliant and avoid potential issues. HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) is an excellent resource for finding this information.

HSLDA - Making homeschooling possible

 

 

2. Set Clear Goals and Expectations

Define your goals and expectations for homeschooling. What do you want your child to achieve academically and personally? Clear goals will guide your curriculum choices and help you stay focused throughout the homeschooling journey.

I initially tried just learning things on the fly. For me, this felt too chaotic. Not having a clear direction to go proved to be stressful. I also learned to use goals and expectations as a guide, not a rule. If my daughter struggles with something, we save it for another day. We have a whole lifetime to learn things together. The only schedule we are on is our own.   

"Homeschooling is not public school at home. It's living a life of learning on a schedule that meets your family's needs."
-unknown

 

 

3. Choose a Curriculum

Various homeschooling curricula are available, ranging from structured programs to more flexible approaches. Research different options and select a curriculum that aligns with your goals, teaching style, and your child's learning needs. Consider factors such as subjects covered, teaching materials, and support resources. With so many options available, this can become overwhelming. To avoid a curriculum option overload, dive into a free trial to see if you like a specific curriculum, and then cancel it and move on if you don't. 

I use:

Teach Your Monster: Free Phonics, Reading, and Mathematics Games

Free, fun educational app for young kids | Khan Academy Kids

The best part is they are FREE!

Other people suggest:

Miacademy - Engaging Online Curriculum

Learning to Read for Kids | Learn to Read with Phonics | Free Trial – Reading Eggs

These cost money.

 

"See what things interest them most and help them to go down that particular road."
-John Holt

 

 

4. Incorporate a Variety of Learning Activities

Make learning engaging and diverse by incorporating a variety of activities. Use a mix of textbooks, online resources, educational games, hands-on experiments, and field trips. This multi-sensory approach will keep your child interested and enhance their understanding of different subjects.

I follow various creators on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest who all have creative, hands-on ways to teach your child something new. 

"Children learn from anything and everything they see. They learn wherever they are, not just in special learning places."
- John Holt

 

 

5. Monitor Progress and Adjust as Needed

Regularly assess your child's progress to ensure they meet their learning goals. Adjust your teaching methods or curriculum if necessary. Remember, homeschooling allows for flexibility, so don't hesitate to adapt your approach to suit your child's needs.

I like to use ABC Mouse to assess my daughter's progress. They have assessments you can give your little one, and then, depending on their score, they suggest activities. 

As mentioned in the quote above, homeschooling is not to recreate public school at home. Often, giving assessments is seen as unnecessary, and your child will develop at a pace that is right for them, which I totally agree with. I don't put pressure on the assessment or treat it like a test she has to pass. Most importantly, I don't judge her or myself based on the score. It's just another fun thing we do together, providing ideas or guidance on what direction to head next. 

"Every child is unique therefore their education should be also."
- Jeannie Fullbright  

 

6. Foster Socialization Opportunities

While homeschooling provides a personalized learning experience, fostering socialization opportunities for your child is important. Encourage participation in extracurricular activities, sports teams, or community groups. This will help them develop social skills, make friends, and broaden their horizons.

This is the part of homeschooling that receives the most criticism. Someone once said that if you are taking on your child's education, you are also taking on their socialization, and I resonated with that. Our daughter makes new friends in parks play areas, and everywhere she goes. She even seamlessly mingled with a group of adults at a work event. She is also not a child I would consider to be outgoing. She has just adapted to engaging with different people in different situations. It's a proud Momma moment to see your little ones learn and grow into the people they aren't meant to become. 

"The idea that children need to be around many other youngsters in order to be 'socialized' is perhaps the most dangerous and extravagant myth in education and child rearing today."
-Dr. Raymon Moore

 

10. Stay Positive and Flexible

Lastly, maintain a positive attitude and be flexible. Homeschooling can have challenges, but remember to provide your child with a unique and tailored education. Embrace the journey, celebrate achievements, and be open to adjusting your approach as you learn and grow together.

"To have a more effective home education, I realized I needed to abandon the trappings of school and harness the energy of home. I dropped my allegiance to the sacred "school schedule." Instead, I adopted the more forgiving "home routine." 
- Julie Bogart

 

This homeschool starter guide will equip you to embark on your homeschooling adventure. Remember, homeschooling offers a beautiful opportunity to provide your child with a personalized and enriching education. Embrace the freedom and flexibility it offers, and enjoy the learning journey together!

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