Getting started homeschooling:
- Look up state requirements
- Find your Homeschool Style
- Support yourself
- Get Organized
- Build a Social Support Network
I am an accidental homeschool mom & credential teacher who hadn’t planned on homeschooling our child but we had some pretty yucky preschool experiences and so I took a part-time job and here we are! There is SO much information there was out there about homeschooling and how overwhelming it would be to get started, and I’ve been teaching for over a decade. There are SO many options and a few hoops to jump through if you decide to privately homeschool your child (and are not a credentialed teacher).
1. State Requirements
It is important to know your states legal requirements for homeschooling BEFORE you get into setting up for your homeschool year. For demonstration purposes I am using California as an example, however these are questions you need to ask yourself if you are homeschooling in any state.
- What are my options?
- Who do I notify that we are homeschooling?
- What are my legal responsibilities?
- How am I going to homeschool? (There are currently 3 options in CA.)
3 Options for Homeschooling in CA:
Option 1: Homeschool as a Home-based Private School.
A simplified explanation of this option is you are setting up a private school in your home for your child/children. You are responsible for everything. You are required to file an affidavit with the California Department of Education, a letter of intent to homeschool at your local school district, keep records of attendance, find or create & keep track of curriculum & other courses taught or attended by outside instructor (with instructors contact info.) & immunization records. A copy of your Affidavit should also be kept in your binder/portfolio as well.
Instruction should be taught in all of the core areas including; Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Health & Driver’s Training (for highschool kids). I would add art & music as well but I cannot find any documentation requiring that it be taught.
Managing the Home-Based Private School Option
This may seem like a lot to take on especially if it’s your first year homeschooling. Don’t worry… there are many ways to manage this simply & efficiently. You can keep a homeschool binder or portfolio with all of the necessary documents and use a homeschool planner. I have a free planner I am sharing in my Homeschool Organization Challenge, if you’d like to sign up. It’s a free email course on how to get started with homeschooling. (There are also digital platforms you can keep your records on like Evernote or Homeschoolminder.com.)
Private School Affidavit
Option 2: Homeschool with a Private Satellite Program (PSP)
For a private satellite program you are doing all or most of your child’s schooling in your home and may have off site enrichment, keep a portfolio & have it reviewed annually or semi-annually. There are many options now when choosing a PSP so PLEASE do your due diligence when researching your options. If I were to choose this model (we do not) I would look in my area for a homeschool that will purchase the materials I WANT to use to homeschool my child for their specific needs AND provide off site extracurricular activities like field trips, sports, etc. No all counties offer this type of support but you’ll never know unless you look!
Option 3: Homeschool with Private Tutor
The private tutor option you hire a credentialed teacher to work with your kids. The requirements for this option is that the child(ren) are tutored between the hours of 8AM & 4PM for at least 3 hours per day (weekdays) and 175 days per year. If you are a credentialed teacher you do not need to hire a tutor.
NOTE: I am NOT a lawyer nor am I giving legal advice. If you think you need a lawyer or legal advice the HSLDA is a wonderful legal resource for homeschooling families.
2. Find your homeschool Style:
Most Popular Homeschool Styles Printable PDF
Your curriculum should support your homeschool style. We are eclectic and that means we draw from many different homeschooling styles. Planning it in advance is helpful in keeping organized but don’t put too much pressure on yourself about planning out too far in advance.
We started homeschooling with preschool. I was a super nerd and created a scope and sequence for our preschool years. I took the CA preschool standards and broke them down by skill and month. Then I created play based learning units (that reinforced those skills) based on his interests at the time. His most favorite was our Dinosaur and Farm units.
If this is overwhelming you can try my free homeschool organization challenge. It’s an email course where I walk you through how to play out your whole year in 5 days or less.
Child-led is the way to go for SO MANY reasons. Kids learn better when they are fully engaged. Child-led curriculum also helps kids retain valuable skills and information since it directly interests them.
What is child-led curriculum? A simple definition is that the child is aware of and in charge of their learning. Learning skills, activities, etc. are centered around the child’s interests and abilities. This style of learning is mostly done in the home environment yet it is possible (but slightly more complicated) to do in the traditional school setting.
3. SUPPORT YOURSELF:
Sometimes easier said than done… supporting yourself is a multi-layered system.
- Start with self-care
- What are your local resources?
- Find other Homeschool Families to connect with. See if there is a Co-op, Play-School, Forrest School or other meet up in your area
- Connect with other homeschooling families in your area; what are they doing?
- Join a Facebook community (especially if you do not have in person support or know any other homeschool families in your area)
- Follow Homeschool Feeds on Instagram (see below for specific feeds. If you have a preschooler we are doing 2 years of preschool & will start letters & play based academics this summer @mudpiesandmanis )
SELF CARE- It’s super easy to burn yourself out as a homeschool mom!
Initially, it takes some effort to start something new. Getting your homeschool up and running as you are learning about your homeschool style, setting goals, taking care of the house, prepping meals, etc. is a lot. Take some extra time for yourself even if it’s just a few minutes and there.
4. Get Organized–
- Try a curriculum map(yearly outline of what you will teach over the course of 10-12 months) or see a Kindergarten Curricular Map Sample
- Use a homeschool planner or start a portfolio or Binder (contains all of my planning sheets plus my curriculum map and notes from our activities). If you’re planning on homeschool from 6 years old on you’ll need one of these anyway. It helps to get in the habit of it early on instead of going back and trying to remember what you did.
Carve out learning space in your home:
My motto is work with what you have, buy what you need. We started with this small space for our weekly activities and a tiny bit of storage in his bedroom & the garage for supplies not in use.
On top of our materials (in use) storage area there is a prepare workstation that I’d use for the days work. (that unfinished projects could be kept-intact), Storage of materials easily accessible (in use) and put away until next year or learning cycle.
Also, we have set aside another table and bookshelf for open-ended play choices.
5. Build a support network –
Find and join local homeschooling co-ops for support & enrichment. USE INSTAGRAM and Facebook for lesson plan ideas and collaborate with other homeschool mamas.
Decide when you will take time to reflect on your child’s learning & progress. When will you update their portfolios or add to their binder? I reflect quarterly and review/ finalize it at the end of the year. It can be a simple as jotting down a few notes or just thinking about what worked & what didn’t?
I think we naturally reflect when things aren’t working and tend to not pay much attention when things are but jotting down what went well is also important.
What changes would you make for next year? Ask your child what changes would they make for next year?