Tuesday, March 2, 2010

So You're Thinking About Homeschooling...

I’m not here today to talk everyone into homeschooling or to make you think that just because I homeschool, I think everyone should homeschool. Just wanted to clear that up before we start. ;)

But for those of you who are considering homeschooling…

istock photo
It's been brought to my attention that many newbies don't know where to start. So, here's some help!
Here is a link to HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association.) Even if you decide not to become members, their site has a lot of wonderful information on everything from teaching through high school, to educating special needs children, to current legal issues.

For those in my area...
Here is the link to the Arkansas Dept of Education's forms and laws.
We have two fantastic homeschool groups in the immediate area, that I know of. One is NWACHEA (Northwest Arkansas Christian Home Educators Association ) and the other is CHESS (Christian Home Educators of Siloam Springs.)

Here is a link to
Legal Information by State .
Click on your state, and from there it will tell you how to legally get started. Some states, like AR, require an intent form and waiver at the beginning of each school year, but no later than August 15th of each school year. Parents desiring to start home schooling the second semester must file their intent form and waiver by December 15th. Arkansas parents desiring to enroll their child in a home school during the semester must submit a notice of intent and waiver form to their superintendent and wait 14 calendar days before beginning to home school.

Other states, like Oklahoma, have more lenient laws. Many, like South Carolina (where I was homeschooled in high school) have much stricter laws, and tend to not be very homeschool friendly. My cousin homeschools in New York, which also has tougher guidelines.

My advice is to READ a lot about it, talk to other homeschoolers, join a support group as soon as possible, even before your kids are elementary age, if you already plan to homeschool. BUT, don't feel like you have to participate in every activity or co-op. There is so much available, and your schedule can quickly become too full if you let it. I know from experience. ALSO, remember that books and blogs are often idealistically presented. Be realistic. There will be awesome days (a LOT, or so many people wouldn't keep at it,) but there will also be tough days. No family's school day goes smoothly all the time. Don't beat yourself up when things don't go as planned. Smile and carry on. Easier said than done, but good advice nonetheless. :-)

Remember that you are your child's parent. You know them like no one else. You are capable. Really.

The books I've found most helpful are:
The Bible. Don't forget it. Get a good study one.
A Charlotte Mason Companion

So You're Thinking About Homeschooling by Lisa Welchel (this is one of my favorites, as she goes through the daily-ness with different families. No one schools the same way. We are made differently, with different needs and interests. She highlights the uniqueness of each family.)
The Well-Trained Mind
The Homeschooling books by Linda Dobson
The Ultimate Book of Homeschool Ideas
Home Sweet Homeschool
to name just a few! I do love my books.

Links of possible interest:
K12 virtual school (you school from home, but use their curriculum, lessons plans, etc. They provide everything and it's free, but you do have a lot of oversight.) We did this for a year and really did enjoy the excellent resources.
Ambleside Online, a Charlotte Mason approach. This is SO packed with good information, reading lists, grade by grade suggestions, etc.
Lisa Welchel's Homeschool link
Elementary Art Lessons
Heavenly Homemakers (ha- I went to get this link and saw that she just wrote about people who are thinking of homeschooling. Oh, God works in awesome ways, piecing things together!)
Heart of the Matter (SO many wonderful articles!)
CIA The World Fact Book

I also have a ton of free curriculum links on the bottom right-hand link list. Check those out! They include art, Latin, preschool, reading... you truly could homeschool for free, with enough planning. There are unbelievable resources available.

Don't get overwhelmed... and don't even look at this list if you feel at all panicky. Definitely don't buy anything until you rest, relax, pray, and decide what you want to study, when, and how. This is just my style.
That said, some of my favorite things we've bought are:
Teaching Textbooks (here's an example of the geometry one, which we're not to yet.)
Explode the Code books, there are a lot of them, and we use them to supplement
Story of the World books (here's the Ancient Times book)
A Beka readers
Handbook of Nature Study
all of the classics and good lit that go along with Charlotte Mason's reading lists
Spelling Power
Come Look With Me (there are lots of these, and we own two)
Italics Handwriting, Writing with George, and Draw Write Now Books (we've used each of these, for different grades)

We use a huge mix of things, and read lots of history and classics, do tons of art. Our focus may not look like yours or others'. There's a lot more that I would like to do, but simply not enough time for everything that comes to mind. Besides, there are just more important things than another elective school subject or extracurricular activity.

Utilize your library!! We've read almost all of the Shakespeare for Kids books, and I never bought a single one.

This list is not exhaustive, obviously, and I'm sure I've left many great things out. If anyone has another book, blog, website, or other suggestion to share, please feel free!!

If only we all started out knowing how much support, and how many resources were at our fingertips.


sara's art house said...

wow! This is so much good info!

Suzanne said...

Great post! I'll be linking you up! Oh, and I also love Home Learning Year by Year - good resource as well.

Anonymous said...

Great, Wendy!!

Shan said...

What is happening? You and one of my other favorite bloggers are talking about hs'ing right when I was practicing with Dev!!

This post must have taken some TIME. It is so thorough and awesome! I love the links here Wendy!!! Thank you so much!! If this is to be for my youngest, I'll need my hubby to be on board. He is not currently but God may be moving us in that direction. You know my complications. We'll see..:)

Sun-Kissed Scholars said...

Suzanne, I actually have that book, too.
Shan, it took me most of the evening, after the kids went to bed. But I've been asked numerous times, and thought it might save us all some time in the long run! :-)
Another friend suggested this site http://www.triviumpursuit.com/ and there's a book that goes along with it.