Homeschooling, as a practice, is growing in popularity in many countries, but none more so than the US. In 2021, there were more than 2.5 million kids being homeschooled in the US, and that number is expected to double over the next 20 years. Are you exploring homeschooling, but don’t know how to get started? It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the mounds of information out there. To make things a bit easier, we’ve done the research and put together a starter homeschooling guide, to help walk you through the first steps:
Step 1: Research your State’s homeschooling requirements
In the USA, homeschooling is recognised as a legal form of education and is regulated at the state government level. While some states consider homeschools to be private schools and therefore regulate them as such, some states have specific homeschool statutes, and others have no regulations at all. Many states require parents to officially notify state or local education authorities of their intention to homeschool, and 50% of states have some form of assessment requirement. Additionally, most states have set days of instructions or subject requirements, with a smaller number also requiring bookkeeping and parent qualifications.
Your first step should be to understand the laws and best practices surrounding homeschooling in your state. Start by reaching out to a local Homeschooling group, as they can help you to navigate legal requirements . However, before you take the plunge, we still recommend reading the actual state code for the most accurate information. For those who stay outside America, we recommend checking national and local homeschooling laws at the very beginning of this journey. You can check out the following links as part of this introductory homeschooling guide.
View State-wise Homeschool Laws in the USA
View State-wise Homeschooling Requirements
Step 2: Discover your homeschooling style & explore different methods
While deciding how to educate your child and create a customized environment can be exciting, it can also be extremely intimidating. Luckily there are many who have struggled with the same questions before you, and so there are a number of well-formed homeschooling philosophies out there that can help you define your approach.
Start by reading up on different homeschooling philosophies. Most homeschoolers do not follow one style in its entirety, instead borrowing from different styles to form a hybrid method that works for them. Several things must be considered when trying to define your homeschooling methodology.
- How does your child like to learn?
- What teaching style would suit you best? A part of choosing your homeschooling method is discovering what your teaching style is.
- What is your budget?
- What would work best with your family lifestyle?
- What are the reasons you decided to homeschool, and which methodologies will best align with your goals or vision?
Keep in mind that homeschooling will always have an adjustment period – a time before things get settled into a routine that feels natural. The term deschooling is used to describe the period of time where your child unlearns school culture and learning norms, and this is a great time to explore homeschool methods and new learning styles. Explore our article on 9 Deschooling Tips for An Easy Transition to Homeschool to learn more.
Step 3: Settle on a curriculum & find your learning resources
The options when it comes to a homeschooling curriculum are endless, so finding a curriculum that fits your needs, your child, and your teaching style is essential.
We can’t emphasize this enough: make sure you don’t go overboard in the beginning by purchasing lots of expensive learning materials. Instead, refer to curriculums and guidance provided by industry experts and spend some time trying out different methodologies with your child at home. Remember to first test out a new curriculum with a free sample, trial, or return period, and remember that it is possible for you to switch your curriculum if you feel it isn’t suiting you or your child.
When comparing curricula, take into consideration the content, the approach, and how you plan to deliver it. What topics are being covered by the curriculum? Do you like a structured or more flexible approach? Would you prefer an online program or one that is conveyed through activities and projects? You can also refer to our homeschooling guide on selecting a curriculum.
Step 4: Create the Right Environment for Learning at Home
When homeschooling, contrary to what one might assume, it is not necessary to recreate a school environment at home. In fact, doing so is generally discouraged. Parents should take advantage of their home environment to allow their child to learn in a manner that is not possible in an institute. XXXX add more here (max 1 paragraph) about building the right environment at home.
Step 5: Locate a homeschool support group
One of the most important things you can do is networking with other families that are homeschooling. It will give you and your child a community (and just as important, avoiding a feeling of isolation), and will make the entire process of homeschooling easier through collaboration and resource sharing. Make sure you join a support network or find a homeschool support group. Whether your community is online or in person, it can be the key to homeschool success.
In fact, given that choosing to homeschool is a major life decision, it’s a good idea to read homeschooling guide articles and speak to as many experienced homeschoolers as you can prior to embarking on this journey, to get answers to your questions and to understand the pros and cons of homeschooling and understand how they homeschool their kids.