10 Most Important Steps to Get You Started in Homeschooling {Part 1}

Posted in Just Starting Out on August 4, 2017 - by

These are the steps to get your family started in homeschool

When I decided to homeschool as a young mother, it was because I had already seen the incredible results that homeschooling was having on kids of all ages. I was a teacher and homeschool evaluator here in Pennsylvania. So, I had spent five years meeting with homeschoolers, reviewing their portfolios and seeing the incredible adventures and learning experiences that homeschool families were enjoying.

For me, it wasn’t even a question--I was going to homeschool my kids and give them that amazing homeschool experience that had been inspiring me for so many years.

What I didn’t realize was that despite my experience as a teacher, homeschool evaluator and member of the Bridgeway Academy team, I had a lot to learn! Much of that learning would not come from books and research but from experience, from others who were homeschooling and from my kids themselves!

But all along the way, the wisdom of my mother reminded me that I was my child’s best teacher. Why? Because I was my child’s first teacher; I had her best interest at heart; and I was not alone.

If you’re just getting started on your homeschool journey, I am sure your head is swimming with questions. While those questions will be answered over time, I am hoping to give you a great place to start. So, grab a cup of coffee or a mug of tea and let me do my best to encourage you to focus on the most important steps, the most critical questions that will help you prepare to take this amazing, life-changing leap into your homeschooling adventure.

How to Get Started Homeschooling in 10 Steps

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The 10 steps to getting started homeschooling

1. Make sure homeschooling is right for you and your family.

No, make really, really sure you and your spouse want to do this! If you are still in the processing stages and aren’t sure, take this quiz! Homeschooling has been one of the best decisions we’ve made as a family. We’re stronger, have more time together, are better read, and genuinely enjoy one another because we choose to homeschool.

But, it’s not always pretty. There are battles to fight and mountains to climb each day. We’ve had to adjust, rethink, then adjust again with every child at one time or another. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it is for those who are committed to providing an individualized, loving, family-centered, flexible education for their children. If you want this for your child (and no more bullying or testing or politically correct holiday parties), then read on!

2. Understand your state’s homeschool laws.

I don’t know about you, but staying on the right side of the law always gives me more peace! I’ve seen so many parents jump into homeschooling without a thought about what is required by law in their state. And this can be a huge mistake that can cost end up costing money and major headaches for you and your children.

The stakes are high in some states that level hefty requirements for homeschoolers, lighter in others, and non-existent in some! Knowing your homeschool laws is critical to homeschooling well, meeting requirements, and feeling at peace with your decision. Find out your state’s homeschool laws here.

3. Discover how your child learns best.

If you get nothing else right in homeschooling, get this right! As a homeschooler, you have the unique ability to create an individualized learning experience with your child at the center. But, how do you tap into your child’s individuality and use it to harness their academic potential? Learning style! While people can and should learn in multiple ways, each unique brain and personality has a preferred way to learn. It is like any skill or hobby.

Teaching using your child’s primary learning style is the best way to help them process and retain information. This builds short-term memories and skills into long-term memories and habits. And when we can do that, we can free up their energy-hungry brains for more learning. Learn more about understanding and teaching to learning style here.

4. Decide on your approach.

There are a million different ways to homeschool and no two homeschooling families look alike. But, there are a few basic approaches that will guide you as you make decisions farther down the road.

Do you want a scheduled day that will mimic a traditional school environment? Then, you’ll most likely thrive under traditional homeschooling.

Do you want a more flexible, free schedule where your child dictates their activities? You may consider online learning or interest-driven homeschooling.

One great way to decide on an approach is to talk to other homeschoolers or visit a homeschool convention. Ask about what approach people use in regards to schedules, curriculum, teaching, etc., and then pick and choose what you think will work best for your family! For more information about homeschooling approaches, here is a complete list of popular homeschooling methods.

5. Find a community.

When I was drowning in the sea of homeschooling questions, four little words provided the life preserver I needed: “You are not alone.” There are armies of homeschoolers in the US just waiting to support, encourage, and help you; over 1.8 million homeschoolers actually! This community loves to embrace new homeschoolers.

Connect with homeschoolers in your area through social media, a homeschool co-op, or a chat-group. Facebook boasts hundreds of awesome homeschooling groups. Here are (over 700) of the most popular Facebook homeschooling groups. Unschoolers will also be interested in this list of unschooling Facebook groups. And here are 10 popular Montessori groups.

If you’re looking for more support in terms of record-keeping, curriculum choices, and student support, an accredited homeschool academy may be a great fit for you and set you on your path towards homeschooling greatness.

Jumping into homeschooling can be scary, but you’re never alone! And with the right focus and steps, you’ll be on your way to finding peace and fulfillment in your family in no time. Steps 6-10 (and a free downloadable resource) of how to get started in homeschooling will be available in Part 2. So stay tuned!

Bridgeway President

About Jessica Parnell

Jessica Parnell is a homeschool evaluator, consultant, and mom. She earned her MS in Secondary Education and Teaching from Bucknell University and is currently the president of Bridgeway Academy.
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