Before you make the awesome, adventurous step to homeschool, there are some things to consider:
1) Pray about it.
While this may seem like an obvious thing to do, it should be the FIRST thing you do. You want the Lord to be in every part of this very important decision for your child. Regardless of where you are or the age of your children, I encourage you to seek His face, read His word, and know that He will answer.
2) Choose a cover school and notify your local board of education.
A cover school or an umbrella school is a way to homeschool legally. Each cover school is different in its fees, rules, and requirements. For high school students, be sure to ask if the cover school provides help with how to maintain records and transcripts.
Most cover schools offer group classes and activities that allow wonderful interaction for both parents and children. Your cover school will provide you with the necessary paperwork you need to take to your local board of education.
Here is a link to all Alabama cover schools:
3) Choose a curriculum.
Here's where it may start getting overwhelming. There are SO many great choices of well-written, proven curricula. If you Google "homeschool curriculum" you will get pages and pages of results.
While this will take time to determine, the best homeschool curriculum is the one that works for you and your child. There are as many different styles of homeschooling as your child has personalities. Eclectic, Delight-Directed, Classical, Charlotte Mason, Traditional, Unschooling, and more. Have fun researching them and seeking out which style best fits you and your children.
Please note that there are a few states (not Alabama) that require certain subjects be taught and records be kept for homeschooling students, so please check your own state requirements.
Please get it out of your head that you have to do "school at home." You don't have to recreate a traditional classroom in your dining room, nor do you have to have textbook after textbook that mimics a traditional curricula. That is one of the beautiful things about homeschooling---teaching your child what he/she needs to know in a way that will work for them and for you.
How you proceed will depend on several factors:
- What is your child's learning style (visual, kinesthetic, auditory)? Knowing this is crucial to picking a curriculum that will "click" with your child. I have often started using something and realized it just wasn't a good fit for us, and scrapped it and started over with that subject. It's okay to do so!
- What is your child's age? Elementary subjects will not need to be as rigid. Jr. High and High School coursework will become more important, based on your child's future ambitions. You will want to choose curriculum that will cover the necessary subjects. High school students are often motivated enough to do well with a DVD program or an online program that allows them to proceed at their own pace. And as a bonus, many of these programs will provide a testing, grading, and transcript service for you.
- High school students, even homeschooled ones, are often allowed to participate in dual enrollment in local colleges, so be sure and check in your area for the requirements.
- What is your budget? Homeschooling does not have to cost much at all. I have a middle school student and we spend between $150 and $200 on curriculum each year. The national average spent on a homeschooled student is between $400 - $700, but that is on the high end, and most of the homeschooling moms I know are not spending near that amount per child.
- There are a TON of FREE resources if you are diligent and search the web. There is rarely a day that goes by that I am not using a teaching freebie found online. Here's a wonderful blog post from my friend Chareen about free homeschooling resources: http://www.everybedofroses.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/homeschool-4-free-resource-lists.html
- In addition, I have had the pleasure of reviewing a TON of great homeschool products, so be sure and check out some of my reviews found here: http://coffeecobwebsandcurriculum.blogspot.com/p/homeschool-curriculum-reviews.html.
- Another great resource of FREE or almost FREE resources: http://www.outlookacademy.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=79
4) Consider joining HSLDA or NCLL, or both. Both of these organizations are advocates for the homeschooling movement. Your membership to these organizations is not required by the state, but may be required by your cover school. These organizations provide legal help and advice, members-only discounts in the homeschool world, and scholarship opportunities for homeschool families nationwide.
5) Quiet the critics. I know you will be met with someone, usually a family member, who does not think you are doing the right thing. The statistics on homeschooling are quite dramatic. Please visit National Home Education Research Institute to see well-researched information to share with those who may be wondering about this thing called homeschooling.
If the biggest critic you are facing is YOU, please quiet the little voices that make you believe you can't do this or you're not good enough or smart enough to teach your children. God gave you these children as a gift. He will equip you with the wisdom and strength you need to do this. It is a wonderfully important calling.
6) Have fun! Your child is home where they belong!
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