The first time that big yellow school bus pulled away from the curb in front of our house with a groan and rumble and without my kindergartener on board I had a distinct moment of complete and utter panic. Who thought this was a good idea? Who thought it was okay to give me this enormous responsibility? Oh right. I did.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and insecure when beginning the homeschooling journey, not just because of the magnitude of taking on a child’s education, but also because the amount of information and methods and curriculum is vast and varied. It takes time to sort through it, and even more time to find what works for you.
But to start, you mostly need a little patience, a lot of flexibility, and a few basics to get you on your way.
-Find your local homeschooling laws.
-Consider your homeschooling style
Not just educational philosophies (such as: Charlotte Mason, Waldorf, Classical, or at the other end of the spectrum, Unschooling) but a general sense of how you’ll operate day to day. Recreating school at home? Unit studies? Literature based? Or maybe a combo of all or a relaxed approach to some. You don’t have to decide immediately, and it’s certainly not written in stone, but it will help to narrow down curriculum options.
Rainbow Resource is tried and true and reliable. Timberdoodle is a more streamlined approach with curriculum packages and extra guidance if needed. Amazon is worth hunting on for a particular book or text that often can be found gently used for less. FUN Books for unschooling, relaxed or hands-on materials.
-Meet Other families/find extra curricular activities.
Yahoo groups can be a great resource to find local groups and meet ups and classes. Homeschool World is helpful, though not always up to date. Also keep a lookout for art studios, gymnasiums, community centers, and other places that offer homeschool classes, often for a discounted price during the quiet late mornings or early afternoons before schools let out for the day.
Educational opportunities aside from books and curricula abound: Starfall has preschool/kindergarten learning games. IXL is good for extra practice. Education.com offers free printable worksheets. WatchKnowLearn is helpful for searchable educational videos.
Just for a start.
With an estimated 1.5 million children in the US being home educated, know that you’re in good company and that you can do it too. Watch the school bus rumble away, take a deep breath and remember: In the end we’re all just trying our best. That’s what you’ll ask of your children, but should ask of yourself as well.
Jill Vettel is a writer and homeschooling mom of three in Durham, North Carolina