Before embarking on your homeschooling adventure, contact
your local school district or State Department of Education
for a copy of the homeschool laws in your state. Read them
carefully, highlighting any and all information that you are
required to provide to your school district before beginning
your program. Make a list of the educational requirements
(courses) that you must provide each year and outline all that
you are required to provide at the end of the school year.
Place this list in a safe but convenient place—you will
refer to it throughout the school year.
Next, check out your telephone book or contact your school
district for information on home school support groups in your
area. Support groups not only provide socialization for your
students, but help for you as well. Your fellow homeschoolers
are always ready to help and can provide inside information on
your particular school district and its attitude toward
homeschoolers. Throughout the school year, many support groups
offer elective classes and field trips for students as well as
support meetings for parents.
Surf the Net for home school curriculum and call for
catalogs and scope and sequences (a list of the objectives of
each course, the scope and sequence can help you to determine
which courses best meet the needs of your particular student).
Look also for programs that offer curriculum as well as record
keeping and support (see http://homeschoolacademy.com).
A complete program takes much of the load from your shoulders
and allows you to focus only on the actual education of your
child. It is especially invaluable during your first year of
homeschooling and/or for middle and high school students who
will need a transcript upon graduation.
Take the time to review each curriculum choice carefully
and pray for guidance. Because curriculums are written to
integrate the subjects together, do your best to select the
same curriculum for each subject. What your student is
learning in vocabulary is often the same concept he or she
sees in Social Studies and Science. The math he or she is
mastering is often the same math required to succeed in
Science, and so on.
Some homeschool programs, such as the Home School Academy
(800-863-1474) offer diagnostic placement testing to ensure
that the student is placed at the exact level that meets his
or her individual needs. Such a program allows students who
are struggling to obtain the information they need to succeed
at a higher level, and students who are excelling to move
ahead to a level that will challenge them.
Your curriculum and/or program choice is critical to the
success of your homeschooling. Consider each carefully and
check with other homeschoolers for input on different choices.
When considering a homeschool program, check out the
curriculum they provide, ensure that they are willing to be
flexible and allow you to add other courses to those they
provide and check to see if you are able to substitute your
own course for one of theirs. Many programs charge extra for
each additional course, while others charge one price for
tuition and allow you to add as many extra electives as you
wish to provide at no additional charge. Find out about their
record keeping program—do they return your materials to you
or not? Do they provide you with a report card and transcript?
Are they willing to help grade compositions? Will they provide
suggestions for extra reading material and literature? Will
they help you meet the requirements of your state?
Basically, you want to find a program that does everything.
The more they are willing to help, the easier your schooling
Once you have made your choice, purchase your materials
early to allow yourself time to review each course and obtain
any necessary additions. Check to see what is expected of you
as the teacher and begin planning how you will meet that
challenge. Some curriculums provide all of the instruction for
you, others require daily lesson plans and a lecture-type
approach. Your early preparation will vary depending on what
type of curriculum you have chosen.
Plan out your daily schedule to help your student remain
diligent each day. Many homeschoolers begin their day at 9:00
AM and end when the student has completed the work assigned
for the day. For many students, lunch marks the end of their
curriculum studies and the afternoon is free for electives and
Look through the curriculum to see what field trips you can
plan to help enhance the lessons. For instance, if you will
study marine life, a trip to an aquarium would be beneficial;
if you will study the Civil War, plan a trip to a Civil War
museum or site; if you will study Impressionism, plan a trip
to an art museum. Your possibilities are endless;
homeschooling allows you the freedom to take educational field
trips and provide additional instruction.
The Internet is another outstanding resource to enhance
your student’s education. Use our edu-links (http://rsts.net/home)
to explore the possibilities without concern for undesirable
sites. It is a fully filtered site, chock full of educational
resources in every topic imaginable!
One of the largest concerns for new homeschoolers is the
issue of socialization. Many are convinced that their
student(s) will end up introverted and unable to function in
groups or with their peers. In fact, the opposite is true.
Students who attend public and private schools spend almost
all of their time with peers and become what is often termed,
"peer dependent." Homeschoolers, on the other hand,
receive the variety of socialization opportunities that all
children need. They spend time with people of all ages,
including relatives, neighbors, peers, friends, the immediate
family (most important but often neglected), and other adults.
Therefore, they are often better prepared to handle all
Test it! In my experience talking with homeschoolers of all
ages, I have found that they are quite comfortable
communicating with adults. They are willing to look me in the
eye and can intelligently answer my questions. I have also
seen many homeschoolers step up to the plate with younger
children, willing and able to help where necessary. Many
college and university admissions officers have also commented
on homeschoolers and their ablility to succeed not only
academically but socially with peers and professors alike.
It is important to provide your student(s) with the
opportunity to spend time with peers. Whether that is met in
church groups, homeschool support groups, community sports,
4-H clubs, musical groups, lessons, scouts, etc. is up to you.
Evaluate what kind of interaction you want your student to
receive and explore the options in your area.
Tap into the resources of your friends and family. Often an
individual who is retired would love the opportunity to share
his or her expertise with a young person. One family had a
retired computer repairman help their students build a
computer from scratch. Others provide instruction in cooking,
gardening, marketing, business, woodworking, and much more.
Don’t be afraid to ask; you will usually find very willing
There will be times when you are ready to pull your hair
out. But those times are overshadowed by the rewards of
homeschooling. Your relationship with your child will reach a
whole new level. You will develop a bond that will last
forever. You will find yourself learning right along with your
student. You will find that despite common misconceptions, you
will spend less time running here and there and more time
building a lasting and loving relationship with your child.
And best of all, you will have the opportunity to see first
hand as your student grows into a more mature, and