I need a mentor..
Could someone help me to get started? What are first and most important things to do
when you are just starting to homeschool? We are totally doing it
Please list in short steps what we need to do first.. and foremost. to get the right start.
I am so new in all this and it came as kind of surprise I need help and I need it fast.
First you need to find the laws regarding homeschooling in your state. Homeschooling support groups can help with this. Nowhere is homeschooling illegal, but some states are very strict, others are lax, and at least one I know of (Idaho, I think, please correct me if I'm wrong) have no requirements whatsoever.
For example, in our state, WA, I don't need to declare until each of my daughters is 8. That means that nothing is required of me until exactly that time. I need the equivalent of a year in college or a qualifying course by that time. I also understand that I don't need to present any curriculum but am required to keep records. I am required to teach on 11 subjects. I am required to test my children each year or have an assessment done. I also know that nobody is looking at either the records or the tests or the assessments. I am required to address any deficiencies noted from these. I also know that what that means is undefined. I can interpret these as I need to.
Because I know these laws about our state, I know what I need to do, and more importantly to me, what I *don't* need to do.
I like the focus of Home Education Magazine and their website. They have a following of homeschoolers of every stripe, though they are secular and unschooling oriented at heart.
How does your son like to learn? Is he a bookworm? Does he enjoy working with his hands? Does he tear around the house and yard most of the day? Is he quiet and contemplative? Does he like building things most? Does he prefer to work on his own, without help? Or does he like close contact and assistance? Is he resistant to instruction but figures things out on his own? Or does he like sitting with you to work on puzzle books for long stretches?
I ask these things because the course you take should (in my opinion) be closely tied to how your son learns naturally. Some kids simply love school-at-home type learning. Others, like my girls, prefer to be let loose and have me close by. As kathymuggle asked, has he been to school? Many kids taking this course need some down-time, called de-schooling by some, or else the problems of school could be brought home. It's like an extended summer vacation.
The best part of homeschooling is the luxury of time. You have 365 days in the year to homeschool. Even in the strictest states this allows you to tailor homeschooling to suit the children and the entire family. (Actually, I'm not entirely sure--some state out there might have requirements for a specific "school year" but not that I'm aware of. Back to my first bit of advice--know the laws!)
Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.
As SweetSilver said you should first learn what the law is in your area and make a plan that will follow that.
Since your child is Kindergarten age I would say to be flexible and try different things. Don't get locked into an expensive curriculum.
Don't worry much too much about academics but more on developing things like motor skills and figuring out your dc's learning style.
Keep lessons short- 10 to 20 minutes.
Try not to separate learning from life- look for learning opportunities everywhere. Have your dc read signs or search for colors or numbers when you are out and about.
Read to your child. Play games.
Explore the world. I think that age is great for going out into nature or trying to find the answers to the questions they have.
Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)
If your child is only in kindergarten, you won't need to do a whole lot this year. You need to decide how you feel about having your child keep up academically with schooled kids in your area. Is that important to you or not? Or is your child already far enough ahead of most of his/her peers that it won't be an issue? If you care about it, you'll want to find out what your school system expects kids to learn in kindergarten. Then you can also think about what you want your child to learn. Once you have an idea what the important things are that you want your child to learn this year, you can think about how to help that learning happen. You probably won't need to spend much time planning or giving lessons - maybe none at all. Kindergarten kids are usually learning things like how to recognize and write letters and numbers, letter sounds, counting objects and associating the number with the written numeral, writing a little using invented spelling, maybe beginning reading and very simple addition and subtraction. You may find that chances to learn about those things come up naturally in your everyday life so you don't need to plan out lessons to teach them. Or you may decide you want to initiate some activities involving letters and numbers. You won't need or want to spend very much time on that, so think about what other kinds of things you want your child to spend time doing. Nature walks? Get-togethers with other kids? Read-alouds? Arts and crafts? Swimming lessons? Trips to museums, the zoo, etc.? You don't have to plan your whole year now (unless your state requires you to submit a curriculum plan - and even then you won't have to plan everything out in detail.) Just come up with a few ideas about things you'd like to try in the next month.
Yes, laws, do it.. I even saw a fellow mother at a homeschooling group/yes join one... go through web.. break out a list of each year the VA requirements per kid. She is an unschooler but she prepares very well with books and she said it gives her insight into what kids are usually interested in and what they *can* do in that setting and what she should consider buying.. from the looks of her home it seems like learning toys.
The most important thing you need to do for standards and so forth is explore how you are going to get your game on. I am doing this right now and the most important person I have to communicate with is my dearest husband which is helping (and a whole other huge topic). I see moms using all kinds of mediums. Blogging, journeling, making teacher planners and also maybe using the same booklet or file box for tracking a child's progress, using a calendar and really planning out their time to the letter (them more so kids), some moms take a ton of pictures and use this as a resource too. It seems to spill right on over into having spaces in the home where these learning toys will go. Since your son is in a school year age now, I would piggie back anything you already do now, like adding a page in a planner for ideas and another one for experiences you did that had learning. If you live in a state like TX, then you have all the time in the world and all this stuff is just for you and your sanity. Go slowly because it is soon going to change and you will get in to your own groove.
And the spaces? That one is a nice treat to move into for a 5 year old. It seems helpful to have either an empty dresser for supplies, filings, a few books, or a shelf. I use a dresser and my children can reach and open. It is filled with art supplies. One drawer is for junk and it is basically for me to empty my pockets after a long day and then put away the little things when I get a chance. I need way more for math if I want to use learning toys (I think so)... So space or a blank space is a great start.
The next big huge thing I did.. which you may seriously want to plan for after Christmas, is to check out and request ALL the homeschooling books you can get your hands on - that seem semi up to date OR very appealing titles. Once you get this giant heap. Take one, feel the vibe, flip it open to a random page, read just a little, and then go to the table of contents. Then make a pile, going back and keeping on. Return the going back pile ASAP. Then get the interesting pile and try your very best to read either 10 pages or 1 chapter. This will help you find some teachers and everything will fit with these kinds of books/authors/guides. Once you find this out buying, making, or researching a curriculm is WAY narrowed then before. This will also help you ask questions and when people talk about their family, you will be briefed on tons before hand. I have found that my family, each member is a pure mix of learners and it is very easy for me to open up in those directions and not every direction. After I read some from the books I had a highlighted lists of ways of learning, teachers/guides to consider drawing from to learn; this is like some Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Waldorf or Classical, and many more. I also know by visiting homes that the learning toys available have a strong influence too.
Budget.. in a way I am finding this to narrow our choices again. I am not sad in anyway because my family is together (we are tons lucky). I am finding that I have to make some choices about how I will invest. As a unschooling heart (my *wub* books were all unschooling ones!) I am deeply considering saving money on the side for my children to buy into their own education, meaning, buy a learning tool each month other than classes. Classes, clubs, and volunteering I am very on guard about. It is so much to do with how I want to just be as a family and many other values way to long for this post. They are awesome, but life, to me in a soulemama kind of way, takes a lot of effort and time to polish the relationships we have. Even if my child wants to make a gift, it is the power of their own will to do so and finish, plus my dear belief in love as a religion... and anyway, that is where homeschooling gets very, very deep! In an amazing way!
Leslie, organic semi-unschooling mama teaching my children 5 and 2.75, that love & happiness is most important. Letting their light shine, finding out they are teaching me. Love being in the moment & nature.