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10 Simple Steps to Start Homeschooling

Homeschooling, never crossed my mind years ago, when I was a busy Pediatrician, going to work in the office, and hospitals. However, things really changed, one year, after the worldwide pandemic hit, in 2019, turning the school systems upside down, and transitioning most to a mainly home-based school style, at least temporarily.

 

It was in this transition, that I realized how important it was that I delved right in, to provide my children, with an education that they could never receive if going to the standard school systems. Homeschooling, affords the parent the opportunity to open a world of information, practical skills, and family time that we could never get, if not with our children day to day. I recommend homeschooling wholeheartedly, and I would never change this way of schooling.

 

It is the best, and if you can do it, you should. We can never get back, the time lost when apart from our children, and we are the best teacher that our children, can have. If we are willing to take the time to invest in their growth, spiritually, academically, and as future moral adults and leaders, this will make a world of a difference, and they and their generations thereafter will reap the benefits. 

So here are 10 simple steps that anyone can take to start their journey. Homeschooling laws vary from state to state, so this is just a general guideline. For more specific detail, visit the HSLDA website, and research your specific state requirements. I found this site however, to be of great help.

 

If you would like to have some organizational tools to help you get started as well, you can visit my Etsy Shop for some streamlined options, that I personally use. 

Organizational Planners in My Etsy Shop:

Clarity of Mind Homeschool Planner, Family Home and Homeschool Planner, & Home and Garden Planner

LivingSustainablShop - Etsy

Web site: For Helpful Information to Start Homeschooling https://hslda.org/

 

Check out my Video Podcast, for more details, on getting started here: https://youtu.be/Oi23OO1dFlk

Let's Get Started

1. Formulate your mission and priorities: Discuss and find common ground with your family: 

Take some time to really pray about your goals, your mission, and priorities. Ask the Father to guide you. He is our greatest advocate for homeschooling our children. "Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he turns not away from it. " (Proverbs 22:6)

Seek Him for wisdom. Then mom's, involve your husband in your thoughts, and possible plans, so that you are all on the same page, and starting off on the right foot. Homeschooling, is a big commitment, and it affects the home in multiple ways. Discuss your costs, the time needed, and any plans you may need to have in place. Involve, you children, once you and your husband have made a decision, and help them to see your vision, and how they fit in it for the long run. 

2. Ensure qualifications/Research Your State Law/File your Declaration of Intent: 

Homeschooling requirements can vary from state to state, and there may be some qualifications that are necessary to be eligible to teach our children, so make sure you look into the specifics for your specific location. For example, a homeschooling teacher may need to have completed a high school diploma or GED, and often must be the legal guardian or parent in order to file a declaration of intent. A great place to start researching, is HSLDA: https://hslda.org/

Many states require a filing of the declaration of intent, so make sure you are completing this process, often times yearly. Other potential examples are # days and hours of instruction required (ie. 180 hours/4.5 hours/day). Required subjects may be needed: (ie. Reading, Language arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science). Required official testing may also be necessary (ie. CAT, IOWA testing among others, and it may need to be given by a testing official). 

3. Know Your Educational Style/Approach

There are many ways to teach our children. Some generally known ways are as follows. A nice breakdown of this can also be found on the HSLDA web site. 

  1. "Traditional/Textbook"

  2. Boxed Curriculum "Complete package/everything already set up, and ready to go" 

  3. Classical: "Trivium approach" 

  4. Charlotte Mason: Gentle, gradual approach, using "Living books" with a focus on whole development

  5. Montessori: Child led, and exploratory learning 

  6. Waldorf: A holistic approach to learning, to engage children

  7. Unit Studies: Bringing in a specific topic using various tools to expand upon the area of study

  8. Unschooling "Delight directed learning": No specific curriculum, allowing interests to guide study

  9. Mixed/Eclectic: Covering many of these styles, to gain access to the benefits of the ones that resonate the best with you                                                                                                                                                           For More Details Check out This Link: HSLDA:https://hslda.org/post/whats-my-educational-approach-or-homeschool-style

4. Know Your Child's Learning Style, & Know Your Personal Teaching Style: 

Children, learn in many different ways, some thrive with a specific way, and some learn best with a combination of learning modalities. These are some general groups to consider:

Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Reading/Writing, Combination of Types amongst others. 

Knowing which style(s), your children thrive in when it comes to retaining information, and really becoming engaged with your teaching, will save you many stressful school days, and will really help your children, cross some great thresholds in learning, that you wouldn't have been able to do as well otherwise. Find out what works best for your children and start incorporating their preferred learning styles in your homeschool day. 

You should also think about the ways that you like to teach. What makes you feel alive and gives you the energy to teach at your best level? Find out how you prefer to teach. Do you prefer teaching 1:1, or in a group? Do you like teaching in the early morning, or in the afternoon? Do you teach best, by reviewing the materials ahead of time, or do you do best, with less preparation? What really makes you feel energized as your children's teacher? Asking yourself these questions, and finding out how you function best, will be a blessing to your home, and your children. 

5. Research Curriculum/Focus on the Foundations: 

Many years ago, there were not as many homeschool curriculum options out there, and homeschooling parents, had but few things to choose from. However, now we are abundantly provided with hundreds upon hundreds of options, and this can be overwhelming, but it need not be. Focusing on the foundations will serve you and your student's very well, as well as save you so much money. Work on Language arts, and Math in the early elementary grades, and really fine tune, and strengthen these basic skills, of listening, and engaging with understanding our world and environment, through observation, and language, and mathematical thinking will come naturally, as your student watches you count money, shop, bake in the kitchen, tend to the garden, fold laundry, and countless other tasks that involve numbers.

 

You don't have to go heavy on grammar, and math methods in the early stages. Allow your children, to enjoy their childhood, because they are already learning so much just from experience, and exploration. For language arts, consider reading good engaging books that prompt them to question and wonder. Use objects in your home to teach math, and number concepts, and you can simply use a notebook, if they are able to write, to work on some simple addition and subtraction concepts. As they grow, and you have gotten some rhythms down, you can then start adding on more curriculum. But start to accumulate this curriculum prayerfully, seeking the Father to guide you. I have been through many curriculum changes, only to come back to the same simple ones I had originally chosen.

So, take time to find out what kind of life perspective the curriculum in instilling in your children, and be mindful of it. If you even have to mix and match to get the fit you would like, feel free to do that. I like to add in engaging books to teach subjects, along with a general spine, and this works best for my family. I also find it important to study several subjects as a family, so that I can help my children, to understand difficult, or unclear subjects, especially when it comes to shaping their perspective on an important or sensitive topic. For example, we do Bible, History, and Science together, and Language arts, and math, can be done independently for older students, with assistance, when needed. 

6. Decide on your homeschooling space: 

It can be easy to get distracted by all the "beautiful" homeschooling spaces you see online, and in other people's homes. However, the space is not what matters, but what you bring to the space as the willing teacher and mother. You can sit for example at your kitchen table, out on your porch, or in a side room, the education is all the same. Try to find a space that is free from much distraction, and an area that you can store your school supplies, so you can easily organize them, and access them. Try not to go out and spend lot's of money, on trying to make your space "beautiful". Instead, invest more so in what you will be bringing to the space. Take time to start updating yourself on educational concepts, and the teaching you want to impart, that is the most important thing. That is where the "beauty" lies.

7. Make a General Schedule Plan/Organize Yourself 

I find it best to avoid filling out your whole school year plans, from beginning to end. Life is dynamic and things change. Often times, there can be days where a lesson is not completed, or a study went longer than planned, pushing back other subjects to another day. When this happens, that full plan that was done, may simply collapse, making us often times frustrated, feeling pressured, and stressed, to try to get back on track. I find it more helpful to have a general skeleton structure in my planner, that I check off as we complete our days work. This is much better, in keeping myself and children less stressed. If I do have curriculum that does have a  schedule laid out, I use that as a guide, and assist, and move through it as our days allow. 

 

I have developed my own personal planners, that you may find to be a help for you. I designed them to be clean, simple, and to contain the top important components I want to keep a track of to run my home, homeschool, and even my garden. Keeping yourself organized is so very important, and it sets you up for success. Check the planners out at my Etsy shop linked here for youLivingSustainablShop - Etsy

8. Set up Your Record Keeping Tools: 

Set up for yourself a binder/folder/box system early on where you can keep important work, or achievements for your children, as the school year move forwards. You will be very thankful that you did this early on, especially if you have to turn in an annual Portfolio to your state. This also keeps you on track, if ever you have to furnish some school records to your state on demand. I keep an annual progress binder, with sections for each student, to include things like individual student assessment and progress, curriculum completion, a generalized curriculum and plan of study for each grade level, tests, top completed work, pictures, and others.

 

9. Learn from Homeschooling Veterans: But Customize For Your Family: 

When we start homeschooling, we may often times hear advice from others that have already gone through at least some of this journey. While it can definitely be helpful to hear from experienced mom's. It is still so very important to tailor your homeschool setting and activities, for what works best for you and your children. Your family is unique, and what may have worked for others, may not be the best suited for you, and don't feel bad, or awkward if you have to do something different. At the end of the day, it's not about pleasing others, or fitting a "mold". It's all about guiding your family wisely. 

10. Submit and Complete Requirements for Testing/Annual Evaluation/Portfolio if Applicable: 

Don't forget to submit any required documents for testing, evaluation, or for portfolio submission each year. Sometimes, we can get so caught up with our teaching, and completion of subjects, that we may forget these administrative tasks that need completion per our state. Make a note in your planner, for when things are due, and keep yourself on track, saving you lot's of time, and unnecessary worry. 

 

Hope this was a blessing to you, and I hope if you haven't started teaching your children at home, that you will deeply consider this as an option. 

Many blessings, 

 

Dr. Monique Adu 

 

 

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