Homeschooling for Beginners

When you start homeschooling it can feel overwhelming.  You might feel like you don’t know where to start and worry you are doing it wrong.  That is why today I’m going to talk about homeschooling for beginners.

I’ve been homeschooling for 11 years.  It actually seems crazy that I’ve been doing it for that long.  Some years have been easier than others.  We’ve used different curriculums.  We’ve tried different methods and various techniques.  Some have worked.  Some we’ve tossed out.  We’ve managed opinions and comments.  

My point is, I feel like I have a little experience in this department.

But, I once was a beginner as well and I remember how nerve-wracking it was.  And 11 years later I realize that I didn’t need to have a lot of those fears.  I didn’t need to have it all together from day one.  Heck, I still don’t need to have it all together.

So, let’s address some of the main questions and concerns about homeschooling when you start.

HOMESCHOOLING FOR BEGINNERS

How will I homeschool if I am not a teacher?

I remember when I first started homeschooling a few people said to me, “but how can you do that?  You aren’t trained as a teacher.” 

Keep in mind, I was teaching my four year old at the time.  

If I can’t teach a four year old, we are going to have some bigger issues to deal with in the future.

So, yeah, it’s possible to teach the younger grades, but what about the older grades?  You know, when they are doing their math and you can’t for the life of you remember what you learned in school and can no longer help them effectively?

(spoiler alert:  it happens sooner than you think.)

But, that’s okay, because there are tons of resources and curriculums out there to help you.  We use a math curriculum that they do on the computer, and when they get a problem wrong the “teacher” in the program goes through the solution so they can see how to do it properly.  

I’ve also googled information on math when we’ve gotten stuck and I’ve learned it alongside them so I can help them.

And I can promise you this works.  I know this because my daughter DID go to school for grade 8 and had no issues at all, and did really well.  This year she is in grade 10 and doing an online math class that falls under our provincial standards and she actually finds it quite easy.  So, all this to say, if I can do it, you can do it!

Bottom line, there are resources out there.  And in high school there are online classes they can take where you aren’t even the teacher anymore, but the facilitator.

 


 

What curriculum will I use?

That’s a great question and a hard one to answer because there are tons of curriculum choices out there.  You are going to need to spend some time researching to decide what you want to use.  You can get a full kit where all the subjects for one grade are included and of the same publisher, or you can take a more eclectic approach and mix it up.  That’s how I do it.

Remember though, you are not married to a curriculum.  If you choose something and you don’t like it and it’s just not working for you, you can just change it.  Sometimes you just don’t know what works and what doesn’t until you try it.  

If you know other homeschoolers ask them about what curriculum they use and what they like about it or don’t like about it.  This will help you narrow it down.

How expensive is curriculum?

There are price points for every budget. Some curriculum options are definitely pricey, but there are cheap ones too.  Actually, you can even homeschool for free if you wanted to!  

How do I handle people who aren’t happy about my decision?

This is definitely a challenge when many start homeschooling.  They may have friends or family who just don’t understand what you are doing and feel it isn’t best for you.  I’m not going to lie, it can be discouraging trying to defend the decision you have made for your family.

Some people are genuinely curious, and for those people, definitely answer their questions.  But for others who may be highly critical of your decision, you can easily respond along the lines of, “I know you don’t understand our decision, but we feel it’s best for our family and so this is what we are doing.”  

People will only start to understand the positive side of homeschooling when they’ve seen you and your children in action.  And those who don’t may never get on board.  That’s okay.  We don’t need everyone to agree with our choices.  Just keep doing what you are doing and don’t let the criticism change what you are doing if that’s what is working for your children.

But what about socialization?

Ah.  The ever popular question.  How will your child be socialized?  While this question may have held some truth at one time, it really doesn’t anymore.  I know many homeschooler families who are busier than public school families!

Homeschooling is not as rare as it once was, and many communities have homeschool activities going on through the school year.  Add some swimming lessons, sports, church activities, and more and your child will have plenty of places they will be hanging out with other children.

There’s really no other way to say it – unless you never leave your house socialization isn’t a problem at all for homeschooled children anymore.

How many hours a day should I homeschool?

I’m a firm believer that up to grade 7 or 8 homeschooling can be done in less than 3 hours.  Highschool will probably be around 4 hours, but for some maybe as many as 5.

But wait, aren’t kids in school for six hours?  How can you do the same thing in 3?

Well, first of all, it’s not the same thing.  Remember, in school there can be 30 kids in a class.  There’s a lot of crowd control going on there.  It takes longer to do things like pass out books or assignments.  You also have a lunch hour and recess in there.

At home, you don’t have all the same interruptions.  So you can get a lot more done in a short amount of time.  

For really young kids, grade 1 and 2 maybe I’d say you can probably homeschool in under an hour and a half.  You can get a lot done in a short amount of time when you are focused.

What are the homeschooling regulations?  Do I have to do testing?  How many days a year do I need to homeschool?

This is really going to vary depending on where you live.  In some areas, like where I live, there are very few regulations, and no required testing, but in others it’s a lot more rigid.  You may have to check in with your school board, do tests, and keep track of how many days you spent teaching.  You will want to check the laws in your state, province, or country.

BE CONFIDENT, AND BE ENCOURAGED

When you begin homeschooling it’s easy to feel unequipped.  But who knows their child better than their own parents?  Be confident in your decision to homeschool.  At first it might feel like you are in an uphill battle, trying to choose curriculum, navigate others opinions of what you are doing, and deciding the best way to homeschool your child.  But the longer you do it the easier it will become.

When I first started I was so worried I might mess it up.  I remember thinking when my child was four that if I didn’t get it right she might not be able to get into college.  Well, now that my oldest is 15 and we are just a few short years away from when she will go to post-secondary school, I realize that I spent a lot of time worrying about things I didn’t need to.

Homeschooling is done a million different ways, and there’s really no one-size-fits all.  Many colleges and universities have made it easier for homeschool kids to enroll and I don’t know any homeschool child who couldn’t go to post-secondary school because of their homeschool education. 

If a child wants to go to college or university, even if their parents missed some things, there’s always a way.  It may require they do an extra course or two for a specific program they want to get into, but either way, there are options.

So if you think homeschooling is right for your family, I encourage you to try it out.  Be flexible and ready to make changes as you go, and that will allow you to design a homeschool program that will fit your child’s needs.  Homeschooling is a lot of fun, and there are just so many advantages.  There’s a good chance you won’t regret joining the millions of other families around the world who have decided to homeschool.

 

 

 

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