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We have spent hundreds of hours reviewing information about homeschooling and have decided to do it! But where do we start? That is what many parents struggle with.
To prepare for homeschooling for your child you must schedule the time for your family, child, and working schedule. Then confirm the legal issues of your state and plan the methods and curriculum. Lastly, you set up the study area in the home and buy the school supplies and materials.
We’ve spent many hours reviewing the various methods and steps to prepare so let’s get to the planing right away of the schedule. We’ve also helped you focus on the major legal steps to take as well and the resources you will need. Let’s get started.
1. Set the Parent’s Schedule to Integrate Homeschooling
We believe that it starts with a parent’s schedule. Some information we saw said the first step is to check your local and state legal requirements. However, we believe this is something we will handle once we decide how much time we can set aside. You must find the time to take on this major part of your life.
The target to plan for is 180 days of homeschool per year on average! Please keep this in mind and realize this is doable. You can schedule 3-5 days per week for 36 weeks out of 52 weeks per year. This is what it takes to homeschool. We wanted to get this number in your head from the beginning,
The average amount of time you need to homeschool is half a day and you must settle this with your wife, husband, or partner. Ideally, you have someone you can share the education of your child with to reduce the load on 1 person. My wife and I have set aside time every week for certain lessons that she will handle and ones that I will handle. The other extracurricular and group activities are split up among a few different evenings. We leave a weekend morning for a hip hop dance class for my son. He likes the chance to be creative and shake his stuff!
What if both parents work, how can I do it?
This situation is a challenge because you will need to set time every week to have off. If your situation allows you to do this, super. If you are both working full-time jobs it’s best to consider it this way if you can work it out with your company and partner. Some parents just realize that normal 9-5 working hours and normal school hours don’t have to be followed. Check out the article below to see how parents can divide up their time in a unique way. You can offset your time to work and do homeschooling like the nurse in the article.
“Work doesn’t always happen from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday to Friday in an office (even a home office)…You can work 40 hours and homeschool for 20 hours”Pamela Price, How to Work and Homeschool
Some classes can be done with tutoring and co-op classes
Homeschooling is not always done 100% at your home. Some days can be done with a co-op tutoring or outside class. That is a flexible option that many parents use as well. Homeschooling doesn’t always take place in the home. Actually, we encourage classes and group activities with other homeschoolers. This is a necessary part of the program in many homes. And some topics may be best left to other more qualified teachers! This is where your child would have a class with others. But the point is, your schedule can be adjusted with the right mindset. You have 7 days a week to use, and you don’t necessarily need to do everything 9-5 Monday through Friday.
What if I’m a Single Parent, can I do it?
Keep in mind that we mentioned 180 days per year of schooling right? That is the usual number of days most states require you to homeschool your child. That’s 36 weeks for the whole year. This can be broken down in manageable periods of time for both you and your child. Some families do a 4-semester option which means 4 semesters of 9-week sessions. This is certainly doable and you can check out this article that discusses some creative ways a single parent can be the main breadwinner and homeschool.
2. Set your Child’s Homeschool Schedule
Once you know the amount of time and which days you have for homeschooling from the previous step, plan your child’s daily schedule. Can you do this in 3 days a week? Sure, see here from a mother that uses a unique school binder system that makes it very simple.
If you can do it in 3 days per week, you can surely do it in 4 days. This depends on your child’s age and grade level. If you have a K-5 student 3 days a week is ideal in our opinion. If you have a child that is from 6-12th grade then you will need more time for sure. They will need more time for some more difficult subjects and activities. In the high school years, they will also likely be preparing for college and university. This requires more study time and possibly extracurricular sports or other activities.
Children must take part in the chores of the homeschool
In our household, we also integrate housework and chores into the curriculum. We find this is necessary and useful for them to value the amount of time and care it takes to keep a home in good running order! We also get an opportunity to teach them about green living and how to recycle, reuse, and reduce. Why? Well, my son’s job is to handle recycling in our home. This means he has to separate and then weigh all the recycled paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass we take for recycling in our community. We feel this is an invaluable lesson in science where they can learn about the materials.
We also keep a log of the amount of trash we throw out each month as well. And we show him the statistics for waste in the United States per household created. At the time we wrote this article that was about 6kg in our house. So my son learns about the chores and the science behind green living and waste reduction. The less we create, the less he has to throw away! Once children take ownership of these chores like laundry, vacuuming, and washing dishes, they realize that it’s best to keep the house in order. Since they are the ones who will need to keep it clean in the first place, they treat the home with more respect.
Children help with meal preparation in our homeschool
All my children love to cook and when they grow up they will be cooking the same favorite food they get now. Of course, when we first started they didn’t like it. But I try to show them all the favorite things I loved to eat as a kid. My mom is a wonderful cook and to this day, she is known in the whole family as the best chef. When I was younger, I don’t remember if I had to help or not, but I just remember how good it all tasted. Your kids will have the same good memories if you include them and make some of the favorite dishes. My mom still is learning new recipes all the time and sends photos weekly like this one.
Why do I bother? Well, I live abroad and sometimes it’s difficult to find a place that has the food I love! There are no International House of Pancakes where I live, so I have to make them myself. My son knows the recipe by heart since it’s not difficult. He even knows how to curdle the milk with a little vinegar since we do not have buttermilk in our supermarket. I teach my kids all of the basics that I know like how to make bread (with a breadmaker!) and apple crisp. And my favorite like my mom made, how to make beef stroganoff. In my household, everybody loves it and calls it “Daddy Daddy Stew”, named by my son when he was only 4!
3. Handle the Homeschooling Local and State Requirements
I say handle because it is legal to do homeschooling in all 50 states in the United States. The process is simple and begins with downloading or preparing a letter of intent that officially informs the school district you will homeschool your child. Then the rest of the process is to provide data on what you will do. Then some states also require you to show the progress with an evaluation. It is just a process you have to go through and not difficult at all. The number’s of children homeschooled every year is increasing and is 3.4% of the total in the US. See the data here.
4. Review the Homeschooling styles and options
Now you have estimated the amount of time you are free to homeschool and you handled the legal issue. Next is to review how you will educate your child. There are so many options that you probably don’t know where to start. The reason we like to leave this part until now is to firstly immerse yourselves in the homeschooling knowledge. My first recommendation would be to watch the video below of a homeschool parent and she lays out the 5 types of homeschooling. She clearly explains the types with examples you can relate to.
The 5 types of homeschooling are Traditional, Classical (Trivium), Charlotte Mason, Unit Studies, and Unschooling. We settled with the Classical type at first because it felt the most logical and familiar with us. And the key point was that there was an excellent resource book by Susan Bauer Wise, The Well Trained Mind. This book made everything so clear. It highlights example schedules, the topics our child should study at each age, and there are so many lists for reference. Reading lists, textbooks, and lists of historically significant people to learn about and so much more.
5. How to choose a Curriculum for homeschooling
The choices of the curriculum are also so numerous that it may make your head spin. But we will give you a synopsis of what we found. Firstly, it’s easy enough to separate the curriculum into 2 types, online and physical textbooks. These are the basic ways to deliver the materials needed for homeschooling your child.
Secular or Faith-Based Curriculum for Homeschooling
Then the next level of distinction is secular and faith-based. Some faith-based choices are Sonlight, Abeka and you can review a list of the top choices here.
For a secular list of choices, this one is something that caught our eye and we did not go through the entire list, but it’s pretty extensive. It breaks down the choice by subjects, like Math for example and Language Arts.
Online homeschooling curriculum to budget to fit any budget
Overall we suggest you also consider your child’s style of learning and how they will respond to the different types of the curriculum you select. This might require some experimentation on your part. Some plans offer some trial periods and materials for you to try out. I highly suggest this as it can be a quick way to test out the material and get a good idea about the style. Calvert Education has a 30-day trial plan. We didn’t try this one since it was a bit out of our budget for the moment.
There is also Khan Academy which is free. Just look at the entire list of courses you can take!
All they ask is for a simple donation, which I think you don’t even need to give. I was completely amazed that it was free. You can even learn something yourself if you have a subject you’d like to sharpen up on. Calculus anyone? You can literally signup in a minute and start learning. All for free!
There is also Time4Learning which has plans starting at $19.95/month. They seem like a full offering as well. And many school districts use them as well.
Another worthwhile one to check out is IXL. We tried this one and have a good impression so far. You can use it and try up to 10 questions per day for free and membership is $129/year for all the subjects they offer. You can also try just a subject and pay by the month with is unbelievably cheap at $9.95/month. It’s all online based and some printables. Try out the math problems here, it’s fun and let’s see if you can answer the problems!
Overall you will have to select a way you think is best for your child and your family. Online resources are convenient but some parents are turned off by this format. Too much screen time! But there is no one right way to do homeschooling. With your child’s best interest in mind, you will find the best match for you and your child. There are no negative statistics on record for homeschooling.
6. Join a few Homeschooling Groups and Co-operatives
We left this option for nearly last on purpose. In my opinion, I strongly believe that I should do the research first for my child. I want an unbiased overview of homeschooling myself. I wanted to have some foundational understanding before I met others about this important topic. Some of the resources I read suggested to find a co-op first or join a local Facebook group and start learning. However, I chose to do it on my own at first. In our situation, we started the review process almost 6 months before we even started teaching my child. We had the luxury to take our time and review many options and try things along the way. We soft started our son because we were really new to homeschooling.
Make friends with other homeschooling families
I also suggest joining a few co-ops and get to know some other parents nearby in your community. You should do this with others and it will make it much more meaningful for your child as well. Get together a few times per week and do some classes or activities together. We do believe socialization is very important for our children. Homeschooling is about isolating them from others. And it is not all done in our home. They are educated in our home and in other class locations, outdoors on camping trips, field trips, and other family activities.
My son loves his hip hop dance class and his soccer class. These are all done in a local class and we are happy he gets to learn something from other sources. This is surely going to enrich his character and build friendships. My wife is also going to teach him music since she is a trained classical musician. She plays the cello and piano. She is taking her time with him because we feel he is a little impatient at this age. We want him to mature some more before we let him join a music class. But he already tags along when she is teaching other family’s children. So he is familiar with this environment.
7. Preparing a Space for Homeschooling with Your Child
This is the easy part as well and your homeschooler may have fun helping. We have an Ikea table for kids and some special modular shelves for most of our son’s textbooks and materials. You can find some space in your home to put all this stuff. Any table with adequate lighting is fine. Of course, a separate room is best, but not everyone has this space. My son likes to arrange his desk and chairs in a certain way. And this is great since it’s his study area. He can decorate and make himself feel at home. There is no need for an elaborate setup and we are sure it will change over time. As he grows up we imagine he will want his own room so we won’t disturb and watch him all the time like my teenagers.
8. Prepare your Homeschool Shopping List
This is the last part of the puzzle to get started with homeschooling. Your essentials are based on the subjects you select, but you don’t need to spend a fortune. The average amount spent on homeschooling according to the HSLDA is from $300-$600 per student per year. As we showed you there are numerous online resources for free and you can save up to spend on the special materials you might need. For example, science and chemistry courses may require some more extensive equipment and supplies. Depending on the experiments and activities you do determine this budget. Make use of the numerous online shops where you can pick up used curriculum and textbooks for sharply discounted amounts. Bookdepository.com also has good deals on textbooks and curriculum sets and has free worldwide shipping.
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