Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Getting Started - A How To

So I figure that after a holiday break, there are 2 camps. The first is screaming HOORAY!!!!! and the bus can't get here early enough. And I get this, I do. I've had those days & continue to have those days! However this is a blog about homeschooling. The second is saying to themselves 'I wish we had a few more days together.'  This was always my thought following a school break (yes we did public school for a bit). But many feel that homeschooling is very radical, difficult, and they may feel like they are not qualified, etc. etc. I am here to tell you that YOU ARE MORE THAN QUALIFIED!!! You can do this. It's not as daunting as it seems. Sure it's not all fun and games, but what in life is? The payoff far outweighs any negatives. So if that little voice in your head has you considering homeschooling, but you feel overwhelmed at the thought, here are some things that might help you get started.

The thought of starting homeschooling can be downright scary. Even for me and all my 'teacher knowledge' it was a bit un-nerving - but the key is baby steps. When I start something new, I become quite OCD about it and want to know everything YESTERDAY. I had to take a deep breath and think about what was most important.

There were a lot of steps to follow just to get started. Maybe this will help those of you thinking about homeschooling but are left feeling overwhelmed.

Clearly first is what are the requirements by your state? There are so many websites out there with information to help.I will list them at the bottom. As always for me, anticipation is the worst part. When I started looking into it, I realized that this is totally doable. Yes there are forms & requirements, but take it step by step. It's not as daunting as it seems. Next, I looked into homeschooling groups and contacted friends who have homeschooled. I needed to know first hand if this was something I wanted to tackle. I also had to find local comrades, because I will go crazy home all day, everyday by myself (well, yeah the kids will be there too).

Next we went to visit a local homeschool co-op. I needed to see how this worked and if me & my kids would 'fit.'  They were all so welcoming and friendly. I wanted to pull my kids out of school that day & start immediately. It totally fit my idea of how children should be educated and spend their days. The kids ranged in ages from 3 1/2 to I'd guess 12. They were all friendly, sweet, helpful and welcoming. There were no weird stares or comments about the 'new kids' at all. Ages did not seem to matter, as they all worked and played together equally. The older kids helped the younger kids. It flowed very easily, very uncontrived. It was fantastic!

So next is to prepare for the school year. This is the fun part. Collecting ideas, looking up lessons, creating my own lessons, figuring out how the structure will go. I love doing this. This is why I became a teacher.  Sadly, public school teachers are rarely given the opportunity to do this anymore. Curriculums are plopped in their laps. These curriculums are so restrictive they even offer scripts! I don't know why they bother hiring teachers with masters degrees to teach. They aren't given the freedom or time to use their knowledge or expertise. Ok rant over. If creating curriculum seems scary, there are tons of free or very affordable curriculums available online.

So what's left? The official part: writing my letter of intent to the district. In New York, you should have it in by July 1st. Then the IHIP. Again, this seems daunting but it is pretty clear cut and basic. There are TONS of resources online to help you through it. But I highly recommend linking up with local homeschoolers. Nothing beats the advice from those who have 'been there, done that.'

Really that is about it. There will be quarterly reports, but by the time you get to that, you'll be a pro already. If your children are older, some states require testing. The links at the bottom can help you find information on that.

Take it one step at a time, it is quite simple really. I cannot emphasize enough how great it has been for us to link up with other homeschooling families. They are such a great network of support, information and friendship. I could do this without them but it is so much better with them. I found local groups through yahoo groups and facebook.

Good Luck!! It's the best journey you'll ever take!


and check out google groups for local homeschoolers near you

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