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How do I get started with homeschooling?

UPDATED: February 6, 2012

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Making the decision to start homeschooling is a major responsibility and knowing where and how to begin can seem overwhelming. Starting out a new school year homeschooling your children doesn't have to be daunting. The key will be knowing what you need to do to ensure your school meets all legal requirements, and then working slowly with your child until the two of you develop a rhythm that works for you.

The three steps below are just a beginning crash course on things to consider as you begin the homeschool planning process.

  • Understand homeschooling requirements.
  • Find homeschooling support groups.
  • Plan, plan, plan.

Homeschooling Requirements

Homeschooling laws differ by state, and what is required in one state – and, in fact, in one school district – may not be required in another. Talk to your local county offices, or search the internet, for information regarding your state's specific laws and procedures. These laws will determine how often you might need to check in with the school district (for example, so that your child can take progress tests and ensure he or she is keeping up with traditional students); the laws will also state how many hours per week, and how many weeks per year, you need to have school sessions, as well as what types of material need to be covered.

Find Homeschooling Support Groups

Every local area typically has at least a handful of homeschooling support groups, often made up of parents doing exactly what you are about to do, and they can offer invaluable resources. Homeschooling support groups can answer questions, help you write a curriculum, and provide general support and encouragement as well as various types of resources you may have difficulty finding otherwise.

Planning Homeschool Lessons and Schedules

It'll all seem a little overwhelming at first, but once you know what you need to cover, you should start breaking it down into manageable pieces. It's best to begin planning a homeschool over summer break so that you have several months to lay it out. While it's nice if you can set up various subjects and chapters to cover every week, leave yourself – and your child – a bit of flexibility in case material takes more or less time than it should.

Don't forget to incorporate some fun, hands-on projects so that your homeschool isn't centered solely around reading and tests. There are some wonderful books available at the library or online with all kinds of ideas for how to teach concepts through experiments and visual projects. Including these in your homeschooling plans will help keep your school year interesting for both the teacher and the pupil. 


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