I Took My Kids Out of School…NOW WHAT?!?

When a family is new to homeschooling, they have many questions, and when they get the answer to one question, they are often met with ten more to replace the one they answered. It doesn’t matter if you are starting your homeschool journey with a preschooler or a teenager that just can’t “do school” anymore, there are always questions, and periods of “oh my goodness, what are we going to do?” 

Here are some answers to those often-asked questions.

Where do I start?

Start at the beginning. Know your state laws for homeschooling. Know that homeschooling is 100% legal in all 50 states. Be prepared to stand up for your rights. A good place to find your local laws is Home Educators Resource Directory. Select your state, and then state laws. In this category should be a link to your state’s Department of Education, and the homeschooling laws for that state.

The next step is to find support. The best support often comes from other homeschooling families in your area. You can find local support groups in the directory.  A good support group has veteran homeschoolers that are always more than willing to help a new-to-homeschooling family. Support groups are wonderful for many reasons other than helping the newest newbie of homeschooling. Many groups have co-ops, where parents pool together their knowledge and resources to teach their children in a group setting. One parent might teach one subject and another might put together all of the support materials. This is a great way to have your child taught the subjects you just are not sure you can teach. Park Days and Field Trips are another great resource that most homeschool support groups offer. By having a group go, there is often a “school” discount offered on places like museums, zoos, aquariums, and even plays and concerts. Not only will your student get to learn something, they will get to do it with children of all ages, not just those in “their grade.”

What do I teach them?

Choosing what to teach to your children is usually up to you and your child. There are many forms of homeschooling that you can choose from.  Here we will define some of the different options for you:

Deschooling: what a family that recently decided to homeschool goes through while they are decompressing form the requirements of public or privates schools. This is usually a time of relaxation, and no formal educational experiences. This is a time when families talk about what direction they would like to head.

Homeschool:  any school that is in a home setting with a parent or guardian teaching.
Unschooling: child-led learning. This is where the parent serves more as a guide or sounding board than teacher. When a child is very interested in something parents oftentimes allow them to explore the subject at will.

Virtual School: a virtual or online school is one that is either public school at home, or private school at home. They use a set curriculum; have a teacher, and specific requirements that must be met. Students are allowed to move at their own pace, as long as they meet the minimum requirements. These schools are relatively new, and offer official high school credits and diplomas.

Now that you know what kind of homeschooling options there are, how do you choose? The answer to that is very carefully. There are many options available for curricula, and they are not one size fits all. This goes for families too. What worked wonders for an older child may not work at all for the next child.  A homeschooling family always has to be ready to adapt. We strongly suggest doing your research before buying any curricula. Detailed descriptions and information about curricula can be found here.  Finding a homeschooling fair is a great way to connect to other homeschoolers and to view curricula before purchasing. Homeschooling fairs in your area may be found at here.

What is the next step?

The next step is up to you and your family. After completing your research you may find that a charter school, or virtual academy meets your needs better than traditional homeschooling. Check out the resources for your state here. There are thousands of resources available for you and your family to utilize in your homeschooling journey, use them.

There are also many different types of homeschooling other than the ones defined above. We will be discussing these at length in future articles. We will address the pros and cons of each and how you may be able to take a little from each of them and custom tailor them to you and your students needs. It is also important to acknowledge that what works one year may not work the next. This is okay, there are so many options in homeschooling, and you will find the right fit for your family.
Home Educators Resource Directory (HERD) is owned, managed, and maintained by parents passionate about giving their children the best education. The Directory’s mission is to provide resources, support, and information helpful to the diverse community of educators around the globe. Along with offering a rich store of varied resources, the Directory maintains a catalog of local and global support groups and calendars highlighting local events.

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