With the current uncertainty with public schools, many families are in a position they never planned for — opting not to “distance learn” and instead immersing themselves in the homeschool world. Questions fill their mind . . . Where do we start? What about curriculum? Do I find a co-op? What are my state’s homeschool laws? And maybe the biggest question of all . . . Can WE really do this?
A wise mama (and founder of Learning Unbound!) once told me, “You know your children best and are the best equipped to teach them.” Those words were so empowering to me when I was new to homeschooling, and I want you to hear them too!
And now that I have some of my own homeschooling experience, I’m beginning to catch the wave and find what works best for our family. I’d like to share some homeschooling tips and resources that have helped me in this amazing journey.
Find a Homeschool Community
First and foremost, I think community is key to success. Whether you’re looking for enrichment classes, co-op opportunities or other mamas in the same shoes as you — search for homeschool groups in your area. Facebook can be a good place to start. I also recommend posting in your local moms’ groups. Share that you are looking to build community, organize potential park dates, or join a co-op. Connect in your local church as there may be parishioners who are also homeschoolers.
Know the Laws and Regulations
Once you have begun to make some connections it’s important to know and understand your state’s homeschool regulations and laws. There are many options and each state is different. You can find more about state laws and resources here.
Becoming a member of the HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) can provide unique benefits to families. The HSLDA “is a non-profit advocacy organization that makes homeschooling possible by protecting homeschooling families and equipping them to provide the best educational experience for their children.”
You may have options to homeschool through a charter school and gain additional support. In some cases, monetary funding is offered through this option. Using a charter does require state testing and you’re not able to use the funds towards faith-based curriculum.
Private homeschooling gives you flexibility in what curriculum you teach. Most states will require you file an annual private school affidavit or intent to homeschool letter.
What Kind of Learner? What Kind of Teacher?
Before choosing a curriculum it’s important to think about the type of learner your student is, and what type of teacher you are. Think about your goals and talk to your child about their goals and interests. By utilizing a curriculum that centers around your child’s goals and interests, I can tell you from experience — you and your child will love learning together!
One helpful resource is 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy. It provides reviews and unique surveys to help families navigate which curriculum would be best for their student’s learning and parents’ teaching styles.
Try a Unit Study
Not sure what curriculum to choose? Try a unit study box! A unit study box is delivered to your home once a month and will provide you and your student guided-learning on a specific topic. These boxes often combine story, hands-on activities, worksheets and journaling opportunities. Our family loves “box delivery day!” The excitement the kids have when they open the box is really priceless.
Our new favorite unit study box came from Learning Unbound! Our family got to test some of the unit study kits before they were released, and my kiddos favorite part was getting to build miniature small worlds of what they were learning about. It brought the topic to life and allowed them to have sensory fun. And what child doesn’t love sensory play?! Learning Unbound boxes come with all the supplies so you can open and go. It makes life so easy and the curriculum even shows you what state standards are being achieved.
Embrace the Homeschooling Experience
The world of homeschool is big and beautiful, just like your love for your child. This is why YOU are most equipped to teach your child.
Remember this is new for both of you and there is no perfect way! Make your homeschooling experience unique to your family and be willing to make changes as you go. You don’t need to model your day be like traditional public or private schools or spend several hours a day at a desk. Learning should be engaging, continually changing, exciting and most of all FUN! Give yourself grace and know you’ve got this!
~ Stephanie is a mama of two with a passion for sharing her homeschooling experience