So you're thinking about homeschooling?

Earlier this week a friend of mine who is considering homeschooling asked me something I hear quite often: "Where do I even begin?"

I offered her a few suggestions, and I'll repeat those here in case you have the same question as well.

1. Get familiar with the lingo.

Charlotte Mason? Classical education? Eclectic? Traditional? What does it all mean? The Curriculum Choice has an excellent summary of many of the most common philosophies of homeschooling. Although you'll likely feel drawn to one or two philosophies immediately, you don't have to choose one right away. Learning about the different options will give you an excellent foundation in forming your own philosophy and will help you understand the homeschooling books and catalogs you'll be reading.

2. Read some good books about homeschooling.

There are so many books written about homeschooling that new homeschoolers often don't know where to begin. I'll offer a short list of my favorites.

3. Find another homeschooler to talk to.

Do you have a friend or acquaintance who homeschools? Ask her questions. She'll likely be more than willing to help.

If you don't have someone locally whom you can talk to, find a homeschool blogger (or three) that you like and strike up a conversation. Most homeschooler bloggers I know would be excited to answer your questions.

Just be aware that all homeschoolers are different; what works for one family may not work for another. Your mentor should be willing to share her personal experience, but still allow you to make your own decisions.

For Further Reading

Over the last two years I've also written a few articles that address some of the main concerns homeschoolers may have when they're just starting out. You may or may not find them helpful, but I offer them to you in the hope that they might at least be of some benefit.

  • Curing Scope & Sequence Syndrome
  • 4 Easy Steps to Help You Fail at Homeschool
  • The Secret to Homeschooling Success: Teach Your Children to Fish
  • How to Choose the Right Homeschool Curriculum
  • Choosing a Phonics Curriculum: Not All are Created Equal
  • How to Homeschool Your Kindergartener
  • What About "Socialization"?
  • How to Help Your Children Hold On To Their Beliefs
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    1. says

      I loved the Debra Bell book when I was just starting out! I read so many books back then, including one along the lines of: What I Wish I'd Known. I determined, after reading over and over that homeschool moms tend to burn out their first year from doing too much, that my #1 goal was to not burn out. I did less and less as I realized my daughter wasn't ready for some of what I'd planned. And at the end of the year, I still loved homeschooling. I considered that year a great success as a result.
      One of the best books for newbies is Better Late Than Early. Makes you realize that if you're working too hard on a concept, it means your child isn't developmentally ready, not that you're doing something wrong. Why waste months teaching a concept to a 6 year old that they'll pick up in a few days when they're 7?


      Joy Reply:

      @Ginger, I've never heard of the Better Late Than Early book, but I guessed correctly who the authors were (the Moores).

      That's definitely a concept I share with newbie homeschooling moms when they ask me what curriculum to buy for their kindergartener. I often suggest they hold off on purchasing 10 different subjects to teach. Starting off that way can be more than overwhelming for both the mom and the child!

      For my 3rd child, her kindergarten curriculum consisted of letter tiles, number tiles, and an occasional page in Explode the Code. A full-blown kindergarten curriculum I realized was not necessary for her, and it's often not necessary for other homeschooled children either.

      I don't subscribe entirely to all the Moore's teach, but I definitely agree with them that sometimes teaching particular concepts right away isn't necessary. Kids can pick up so much so quickly when they're a bit older. And oftentimes it's much more beneficial to wait rather than try to push formal learning on them too early.

      At some point we've come to think that kids can't learn unless it's from an official curriculum, and that's just not true. My daughter probably learned more that year in kindergarten than she would have if we'd stuck to a formal curriculum because she spent her time listening in to read aloud stories and participating in discussions with the older kids.


    2. says

      If your friend could get to a good homeschooling convention this summer, or buy Cindy Rushton's online homeschool convention talks to listen to, she might find that very inspirational and give her the boost she needs to start!


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