Below: If you’re thinking of homeschooling, the planning process can seem daunting. Use this free printable homeschool checklist to help you navigate the decision making process.
Choosing how to educate your child can be one of the toughest decisions of parenthood. Public school, private school, homeschool; the options are plentiful and it can be difficult to know which is best for your child.
However, once you’ve made the choice to homeschool, your decision-making opportunities have only begun.
Since homeschooling requires hands-on participation from both your child and yourself, you’ll have a lot to think about as you prepare for the school year. Use the following homeschool checklist to help you navigate through the process.
Homeschool Checklist (free printable below):
Know your state’s legal requirements
Every state has different laws regarding how much they want to know about your child’s education. Some states are very lenient, requiring you to maintain records, but not submit them. Others are quite strict, requiring a detailed portfolio, standardized tests, and a yearly certification by a qualified evaluator. Even more states fall somewhere between these two extremes.
To learn more about the requirements in your state, you can start by visiting HSLDA, but it would be wise to check your state government webpage for the official laws as well.
Contact your local homeschool community
There is sometimes a stigma attached to homeschoolers, a belief that children who are homeschooled are poorly socialized. In reality though, homeschooling is far from a solitary endeavor and the vast majority of homeschooled kids have many opportunities to grow their social skills.
This is just one of the reasons it’s important to get involved with your local homeschool community. From field trips to co-ops to simple support, having a group of people to help you along as you get started in your journey is invaluable.
To get started, google ‘homeschool in [your city and state]’ to see if any groups pop up. You can also search Facebook in a similar way to see if you can join a local online group.
Research homeschooling methods
Choosing to homeschool can often be a tough decision, but once you make it, the decision making is only beginning. One of the biggest choices you’ll have to make is which homeschooling method is right for you and your child.
There are many options and no ‘right’ one. Take your child’s learning style, as well as a general idea of how you want to run your school (more on that later) when deciding which method is right for you.
Also keep in mind that you don’t only have to stick with one. The beauty of homeschooling is that it gives you freedom. If you find pieces of several methods that you like, you can adapt them into your own method.
Some methods to research at this stage include Montessori, Waldorf, Classical Education, Unschooling, Eclectic, Charlotte Mason, School-at-Home, Unit Studies, and Multiple Intelligences.
Research curricula that align with your chosen method(s)
Much like when you researched methods, there are two main things to keep in mind when researching which curriculum to use:
- You don’t have to stick to only one. It’s okay to pick and choose the ones that will work best for you.
- Keep your chosen method(s) and your child’s learning style in mind when researching curricula.
One other important note in regards to choosing curricula is to make sure you’ll be able to use a variety of media. You’ll want to allow your child to experience learning through reading, writing, drawing, computing, and music to name just a few. While you can adapt your curriculum to include a variety of media, it may save you time to consider that ahead of time.
For instance, Miss Humblebee’s Academy is an award-winning way to supplement your child’s learning, as well as teach her basic computer skills, art and art appreciation, music, and more.
Develop your homeschool schedule
Although flexibility is one of the benefits of homeschooling, you’ll still need to develop a schedule in order to stay on track. Thankfully, that schedule can be as flexible or structured as you choose.
When creating your schedule, keep your goals in mind. This will help develop a schedule that is geared towards accomplishing those goals.
You’ll also want to consider your availability on a weekly, daily, and hourly basis. Do you want to do the traditional five-day week or would four days work better for you? Do you want to be very focused and only work in the mornings or would a longer day with plenty of breaks be better?
The number and type of subjects you’ll be teaching, as well as how many children and grades you’ll work with should also factor into your schedule.
Although it can be hard to determine a realistic schedule before you actually put it into practice, do your best and go into the school year with the knowledge that you can always adjust it later.
With a bit of planning, homeschooling does not have to be a daunting prospect. And once you’ve done that planning, you will find that the benefits are truly great. Good luck on your journey!