Whether your child is young enough to never have been in school, or your child is a high schooler who is having difficulty in the public school environment, there are some basic areas to consider in beginning this endeavor of homeschooling. This, however, is not a complete list, but just some of the very first steps to guide parents onto the path of success.
The first and most important step is to talk to your child and present the idea to get them on-board with the plan. It may not seem intuitive to some at first to have a conversation with a 4-year-old child about their education, but it is a necessary step for their excitement and enthusiasm to flourish. When we let a child know what is happening around them and involve them, they gain a greater sense of safety and security. Keeping your kid(s) in the loop of the daily activities, outings, and errands helps them to endure stress much better than as opposed to them having no idea about what is going to happen next. The conversation with high schoolers will obviously be much more complex and nuanced, but it still must be genuine and candid.
The next step is to assess the changes to your particular family dynamic. This may entail multiple conversations and family discussions that include ALL voices being heard – see step one. You will be amazed at the fluctuations of the roles and responsibilities that could cause conflict if this step is omitted. Rules are not a bad thing – they are merely training tools to reach certain personal and professional goals. Once those goals are reached, rules become redundant (unnecessary) and thus have the potential to hinder the next set of goals. Again, everyone contributes to the rules and everyone is subject to the rules – so make them universal, or don’t make that rule. The big idea is that this rule making exercise is a template on how children develop their views of society and laws – if our laws (rules) are unfair, or capricious, or only apply to some, then they will see this disparity as a correct and true template for society.
The third step is to perform a top-down, cost/benefit analysis of your household income and expenditures and of pros and cons. This needs to be as detailed as necessary depending on your own financial stressors. If the mother is going to fill the role of the homeschool guide and she was previously working in an office setting, then the items that will be considered savings would be fuel costs, mileage, road tolls, dry cleaning, business clothes, makeup, lunches out, etc. The father would also benefit in some cases with being able to work longer, having a support structure at home and even having fewer sick days per year. Actually, the whole family is sick less frequently - children pass colds, flu, pink eye and other ailments to family members way more from being around hundreds of other children. Children benefit from the bonding and relationship building that results from being in a low-stress environment. They benefit from the personal attention, the homemade meals, being able to take breaks and choose from multiple lessons or spend all day on one lesson. They also have the chance to build skills that are no longer taught in school, like cooking, gardening, woodworking, or even entrepreneurship.
The last step is probably the one that people think of doing first, but it pales in comparison to the previous ones mentioned. This step is the common catch-all step that sets even the most determined homeschooler parent on edge:
- What curriculum do I choose?
- Where do I find an approved list of topics that I am supposed to teach my child at 4th grade?
- How do I develop lesson plans?
- Do I need to call someone from the school district to inform them that I am homeschooling?
- What does the state require for graduating high school?
- What do I need to keep for my homeschooling records?
- What qualifications or requirements does a parent need to homeschool?
- What State tests are required to be taken?
The list goes on, but they all have a similar theme – what does the state want? Hopefully you have already realized that you are not the first person to ask these questions and that they have all (and I mean all) of them have been answered by people like you who went on this same journey. The point is that you need to plug yourself in with a local network of homeschoolers in your area, talk to them, get on YouTube and do your research on teaching methods, human motivation, agency and children’s stages of development like those of Jean Piaget for example. The questions regarding State compliance are as easy as searching a series of websites and making phone calls. Both standardized and non-standardized curriculum are available to the public online although navigating through them may be an annoying challenge. Keep up your due diligence and the learning curve will surely be behind you. Before you realize it, people will start coming to you for answers. Yes, it can be tedious and frustrating to begin this journey, but the reward of the lifelong bond you will develop with your children and the assurance of passing on your family values is worth the efforts.