Getting Started with your CA Homeschool: A Comprehensive Guide

I am a teacher and an accidental homeschool mom.  

I hadn’t planned on homeschooling my child but we had some pretty yucky preschool experiences and so I took a part-time job and here we are!

I had no idea how 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).

For the family who wants to get started with homeschooling but isn’t sure how,  I have put together some resources to help make getting started easier.

Getting started homeschooling:

  • Find your Homeschool Style

  • Support yourself

  • Get Organized

  • Build a Social Support Network

  • Do your Research

1. Find Your homeschool Style:

NOTE: The school at home option can either be working with a school district (using their FREE curriculum) or buying your own packaged curriculum and using that.
If you do not have a teaching credential and are not working with a school district you will have to file for a homeschool affidavit.   Click here if you live in CA or Google Search ____________ (your state) homeschool affidavit.  There are resources for getting help in figuring this process out. Most homeschool parents say that the first time is the hardest and after that it’s easy-peasy.

Most Popular Homeschool Styles

The key to a happy homeschool is finding a balance for you and the kids.  The first month is mainly about getting organized and finding your rhythm. For some this is getting used to a new schedule or routine and building independence. 

Initially the tricky part is balancing out everyone’s needs. Know that this takes time and embrace the process of figuring this out. You may find that you need more structure and your child(ren) needs less.  You can try a preparing a child-led unit of study. There many ways to homeschool the hardest part (initially) is figuring out your style.  Take a look at the homeschool styles and see which one appeals most to you then try it out.

For us Eclectic is the best way to go for many reasons. Ultimately it supports both of our needs and provides enough flexibility for us to stay consistent, long-term.  From birth I have used Montessori inspired activities and materials because they work very well on all types of children. As he is growing and developing his personality and work style preferences I am noticing changes are needed from time to time, this is normal.  

Homeschool Curriculum

Your curriculum should support your homeschool style.    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.  

PREschool FULL Homeschool Scope and Sequence

If this is overwhelming plan one month, one quarter or two quarters in advance. Review all goals regularly (montly, quaterly, yearly, whatever you’re able to commit to). If you need specific examples on how to break down and organize curriculum click here.

Child-led Curriclum

Child-led is the way to go. This varies in definition so the simple definition is that the child is aware of and in charge of their learning. 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.  Fundamentally child-led learning support the individual child’s abilities and developmental needs in a way that interests them.  They have the power of choice and we manage this with the internal structure of our homeschool flow.   I appreciate Maria Montessori’s “freedom within boundaries” model.  The environment is equipped to support self-sustained independent learning with adult guidance, expectationas are set, practiced and reinforced.  The adult’s role is a facilitator or a guide.

EXAMPLES:

Morning basket (a Charlotte Mason inspired tool) 

One basket contains the day’s (or week’s) activities & copy work (depending on the child’s needs). The homeschool teacher (mom) prepares this the night before and depending on your homeschool flow the child follows your schedule or can select which order to complete their work.

Montessori Shelves

A bookshelf with several activities that the child chooses from.

Designated Work Space

Younger kids need craft and art space that can get messy AND is easily cleaned up. As kids get older the will be doing copy work or work sheets. It is important to have a work space that will be productive for them such as a standing desk for older kids who still need to wiggle and a large enough table or desk space for kids to handwrite, craft or otherwise construct their amazing creations.

Writing Invitations

Offering writing invitations is hit or miss in our home. It will not go over well for what feels like months and then he’ll write something like this.


2. SUPPORT YOURSELF: 

… it’s sometimes easier said than done!

  • 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 )

Homeschool Tips for Parents offers tips from a teacher is my cheat sheet for self-support.

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. will take some extra effort and the transition is not easy for all.

Patience is required not only for your children but ESPECIALLY with yourself!

3. Get Organized

One of the best ways to keep up with pacing is to start a homeschool planner.  This is required grade levels (K- high school) but is helpful for preschool as well

If you’re considering “school at home” options FIRST use my spreadsheet to help you make the best choice for a home school for your family.

Other Ideas to try:

  • 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
  • Or A homeschool planner
  • And start a Homeschool 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.

It worked great for the first month or two as we were getting situated but we ended up adding other space in our home for variety (out on our deck when the weather is nice and in the garage when it’s rainy).

Also, we have set aside another table and bookshelf for open-ended play choices.

He is sorting out his process art box that he (accidentally) spilled.


4. Build a support network – 

Find and join local homeschooling co-ops for support & enrichment.

USE INSTAGRAM: (for lesson plan ideas and collaborate with other homeschool mamas)

  1. Instagram – check out some instagram feeds that I love @homeschoolcollective, @littlepinelearners, @momducator @figmentcreative, @steamkidschallenge, @livingmontessorinow, @stimulatinglearningwithrachel, @pinayhomeschooler I’ll cut the list off there because I could literally go on for days with all the great stuff on IG.
  2. FaceBook- There are also some great Facebook feeds to check out for homeschooling.  I am not on FB as much as IG for ideas but I do like: https://www.facebook.com/wildandfreetobe.  For more ideas search for Facebook homeschooling groups, communities.

 


5. More Resources:

RESEARCH- Do a TON of research! Here are some sites to get you started


Homeschooling Resources:

The Homeschool Mom– Ummm…. Wow!  This is a pretty comprehensive site with plenty of free resources and curriculum reviews.  I recommend having a clear focus when looking at this site. There is SO much info  it could be overwhelming.  Not to worry, add it to your favorites, it is bookmark worthy site!

Other Websites:

CODE.org

Hour of C

ode– ages 5+ interested in computers

Nature Watch sells educational nature products and craft kits.

K-12 Resources for Homeschooling

A2Z Homeschoolhttps://a2zhomeschooling.com/regional/us/california_support/california_wine_country_homeschooling/

HSLDA- advocates for homeschooling

https://www.hslda.org/hs101/CA.aspxs

Homeschooling.com Forum

https://www.homeschool.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=11808

CA homeschooling Today

http://californiahomeschoolingtoday.com/sonoma-county/

RESOURCES for Special Curriculum:

Autism

See https://a2zhomeschooling.com/concerns_homeschooling/homeschooling_autistic_children/

https://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/homeschool-help/homeschooling-a-child-with-autism/

Christian based

https://allinonehomeschool.com/

Gifted and Talented

https://giftedandtalented.com/

Preschool/ Early Years

Articles & resources from A to Z Homeschool

https://a2zhomeschooling.com/beginning_home_school/the-early-years_2-6_year_olds/

AGES 16- 19    IB Online Program

http://www.ibo.org/programmes/diploma-programme/dp-online/

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