Starting your child in a homeschooling program can seem complicated. In the past, parents and guardians were largely on their own when it came to educating their children. This was both the greatest benefit of homeschooling and the most difficult aspect.
Nowadays, vast resources and online curriculum courses are available to parents who are interested in starting their children in an online homeschooling program. Below are four tips to keep in mind that will help you get started on the right path to finding the correct program and curriculum that meets the needs of your child.
1. Get In Touch
While some homeschooling parents prefer to stay completely independent, most first-timers homeschoolers appreciate having a network of support, whether in-person or online. If you don’t know many people already involved in homeschooling, get in contact with the Homeschool Association in your state. Furthermore, you can search on Facebook to find local, national, and global groups dedicated to helping homeschool parents.
You don’t have to be a vocal member of these communities to gain benefits. At first, it’s best to read the forums and discussion threads to learn the main topics and issues among your peers. Once you’re comfortable with the lingo, you can start asking questions and utilizing available resources, which are often free. In time, you’ll become a valued and experienced member of the community, regardless of how active you are.
2. Check Local Laws
Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. It’s a trusted method of instruction in homes across the US and abroad. You have the right to educate your child in the best way you see fit.
Some states offer a great deal of freedom for homeschoolers, requiring no notification or evaluation before beginning. Others require some form of notice, while a handful require certifications and required testing.
The Home School Legal Defense Association provides a map of each state’s regulation status and explains the requirements throughout the nation. While it may be frustrating to comply with these rules, doing so will ensure your child maintains a successful educational path well into the future.
3. Learn How Your Child Learns
Everyone learns differently. You may have heard that there are 3 different types of learners: audio, visual, and kinesthetic. Some researchers say there are seven learning styles, while still others insist there are endless different types of learners!
Instead of putting your child into a simple category, spend some time discussing their preferences and evaluating how they best understand learning material. Do they prefer to read and study on their own in silence? Do they like having visual stimuli like videos and interactive media? Do they learn best completely on their own, or are they more suited to studying alongside a sibling or friend? There are a ton of resources and learning tools available online for almost any learning style, though for some things, like learning to write, you will want 1st grade workbooks that your child can actually write in.
A child’s learning style evolves over time, and understanding their needs is an ongoing process. Part of the joy of homeschooling is watching your child grow as a student. Do your best and be open to changing your plans as you go along.
4. Start Deschooling
To deschool means, essentially, to unlearn the habits of public schooling. In traditional schools, we’re taught to raise our hands to go to the bathroom, sit quietly for hours on end, take required classes and courses we have no interest in…. It’s quite a world apart compared to homeschool!
If you went to public school as a child, these habits are probably ingrained in your memory. Deschooling is doubly important if your child has been a part of the school system recently. Make it clear to your new student that the expectations of public school don’t entirely apply in the home. You’ll set the standards and pace alongside your child.
With clear expectations, strong goals, and an open mindedness toward education, you and your child can thrive in a homeschool environment.