I have been homeschooling for about 2 years now, and by no means do I consider myself an expert. Homeschooling was a concept that was very overwhelming at first – How do I even begin? What curriculum do I choose? What does my state require? I’m sure I am not the only one to have these thoughts! In fact, I’ve been asked many times these same questions by other moms interested in homeschooling. So much so I thought I’d share a few things that helped me, more or less as an easy resource for friends.
When my daughter was in 3rd grade, we decided to try homeschooling. At the time, I wasn’t plugged in to the local homeschool community, I didn’t have many friends that homeschooled, and honestly I didn’t even know where to begin. Because of the “overwhelm,” I made the decision to get an all-in-one curriculum. When it arrived, I knew I made the wrong choice. It wasn’t challenging, it was boring, and completely WRONG for my daughter. At the time, I also lacked the confidence and support and wound up putting her back in private school. After that, the idea of homeschooling still tugged at me…but I kept telling myself, no, I was a failure and it will not work! But then, I started meeting more and more homeschoolers that were a source of inspiration. Four of the biggest “helps” I will post here in this article.
1. Though I do not use Sonlight Curriculum, they have a very excellent section on their website called “Why Homeschool” – I won’t regurgitate it all here, but it is a great place to start. What I found exceedingly useful was their e-book “Finding Your Curriculum Style,” which you can download HERE. Before I started my second attempt at homeschooling, I had NO idea there were so many different approaches. We currently use primarily a Classical approach, with some Charlotte Mason resources thrown in there, and it works great. Quite a different result from my prior attempt!
2. Once I figured out our approach, the question then was, “Now what?” Meaning, where do I start with picking curriculum? How do I know if a certain curriculum is “classically oriented?” That in itself can be intimidating! That’s when a friend loaned me the book “The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education in the Home.” This book breaks down each grade level and presents a “menu” of curriculum to choose from. The author, Susan Wise Bauer, provides curriculum suggestions as well as pros/cons of each one. She also provides suggested resource material, and for me, this was perfect! The book provided me with the confidence to “hand pick” curriculum, rather than relying on an “all in one.” And, it was worked out very well. It provides flexibility that if something isn’t working as planned, I can easily supplement or replace as needed (as I did with science for this upcoming year).
3. Knowing your state requirements can, in itself, be confusing and hard to understand. I would encourage you to check out HSLDA’s Summary of Laws for each state (you can click on your state) AND talk to other homeschoolers in your area. Here in Tennessee, we use a cover school. However, when I started talking to folks in Pennsylvania, the idea of a cover school is unheard of; the laws are that different. So, the point is – know your state’s requirements!
4. And lastly, for this article, I cannot stress the importance of having a support network. Seek out other homeschool families that reflect similar values. We were very fortunate that in our Tae Kwon Do school, there are many homeschool families; over time, we have become friends and often do things together. When I struggle with something, I can (and do!) ask for suggestions and advice. In this social media-driven world, there are a ton of resources available online. There are groups for just about any type of homeschooling approach, curriculum, location, etc on Facebook alone. Through Facebook I’ve connected with folks practically in my own back yard that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
While this post isn’t exhaustive, hopefully these resources will help you as much as it did me. Are you considering homeschooling? What is overwhelming to you?