Through many years of experience with talking to new homeschooling moms, I often hear the same questions repeated time and again. Homeschooling creates a paradigm shift for many people. It goes against the grain of popular culture and society. For this reason, the thought of getting started is often laced with fear and anxiety.
What are the absolute essentials you need to get started homeschooling? Do you need to be confident about which curriculum you want? What about a school room, schedule, etc.?
I would say, none of the above. My suggestion for new homeschoolers is to start off very relaxed- test the waters so to say. Develop a strong love of learning and family closeness first. Do some research about methods and models- acquire information about your family dynamic and how your children learn, and go forward from there.
The first essential you will need to start homeschooling is a basic understanding of the laws in your state.
A Knowledge of the Law
Each state has a different statute or law for homeschooling. Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states and U.S. Territories. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association has a great summary of each state’s law, along with the statutes and codes.
This information is important to know. Some states have requirements you have to meet each year, others are a one-time thing. Familiarize yourself with the law in your state.
If you see academic or attendance requirements that need to be met just remember that these can be satisfied through many ways. Homeschoolers have the advantage of learning all the time. So you can meet attendance requirements easily since your kids are always homeschooling.
Meeting Academic Requirements
Academic requirements can be met without curriculum. Here is a great article on how unschoolers can record their experiences to show that they are covering the necessary topics.
It is important for you to establish a love of learning with your kids. That means if they were previously in school you need to take a break from formal lessons. So how do you comply with homeschooling laws if you are taking a break?
My suggestion for new homeschoolers is to start a journal, calendar, or online private blog where you record what you do each day, week, etc. Take pictures of projects and crafts, record questions the kids ask, and keep track of interesting information and ideas you come across in your research.
Later you can take this information and organize it to show how your kids have been learning academically.
Here is an example from our own records:
- Visited the zoo- science, nature, animals, habitats
- Drew in sketchbook- art, sketching, could be anatomy (horses)
- Played Farkle- math, logical reasoning
- Poetry reading at bedtime- language arts, literature
- Read through the plagues in Exodus- history, literature, Bible
- Looked up information about locusts and boils- science
- Found a book on the passover- culture, history, religion
- Made a notebook page about passover- writing, art, language arts, spelling, editing
- Baked cookies for church- math, measurement, volume, quantity
All of these were completed in a week and they were all sparked by an idea or interest that the kids had.
So you see, having an understanding of the homeschool laws in your state not only helps you to know what you need to comply, but also how you can fit your adventures into the academic requirements it might have.
Article by Aadel Bussinger
Aadel has been married to her career Army man for 11 years and they have 2 daughters and a freshly made son. She is a homeschooling mom, volunteer, and online college student. Her hobbies include cooking, organic gardening, sewing, and crocheting. She blogs sporadically at These Temporary Tents.
Aadel has written 82 awesome articles for Natural Family Today.
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