Monday, September 8, 2014

Making It Official - 8 Things To Do After Deciding To Homeschool

     When it comes to the homeschool decision, there is an unlimited amount of contemplating, planning, worrying, and mind-changing.  Once you know that you will go through with it...you need to do it!  And this is when it helps to be 100% committed.  There are few things worse than going back and forth on a decision or doing something only halfway.  As Yoda says, "Do or do not. There is no try." ;)
     I knew I wanted to homeschool for years, but recently set it in stone. This is why I just remodeled my blog to be easier to follow and user friendly.  I know that if I am keeping my online homeschool journal up to date, it will help me commit to keeping on schedule for my kids.  By the way, thanks for following!

Here are some ways to successfully implement a homeschooling system for your family:

1) Find out the homeschool laws for your location.
The HSLDA is a perfect resource for finding out your local laws on homeschooling.  Since we are in California, we also used the CHN to get information.  The resources are all over the internet.  Google it and find out who can guide and help you on your way.

2) Think of a way to be accountable.  
The freedom of homeschooling is awesome! However, I think the freedom could let me slip away from my original goals.  My way of setting up accountability was creating this blog.  It has been a wonderful motivator.  Your way could be to write out a schedule and assign a member of the family to be your secretary.  They can remind you of your weekly/monthly goals.

3) Establish an education philosophy and choose a school name.  
This part was fun for me.  I got together with my husband and asked him what his hopes were for our children.  These are examples of valuable questions to ask yourself: What do you hope for our children? What do you want them to learn? What do you think is important in education? What style of learning do you think will benefit them? I got out a notebook and we brainstormed important milestones and educational achievements and compromised on a general philosophy or mission statement for our homeschool.  Once that is complete, curriculum decisions are much easier to make. You may also have some idea for a school name.  This is how I decided on a school name.

4) Decide on a school calendar.  
Will you homeschool year round or will you go with the traditional school year, taking summers off? Will your school hours be in the morning or evening? Will you even have any school hours?  Homeschooling is SO flexible that these tiny little details need to be established.  But don't stress about the decision.  It is always better to just try out a method, than to waste time worrying if you've made the right choice.  Try it out! And if you need to change things later on..that's actually great! It means you are learning what works best for your family and that you are optimizing their potential.

5) Make student and teacher IDs for every member of your family.
I've even seen some homeschools create their own logo.  This could be a project for older kids who are into graphic design! Student and teacher IDs allow homeschoolers to utilize educator discounts and attend fun educational field trips.  I have already been able to get many discounts and free entry to places using my educator ID.  I used Homeschool Buyers Co-Op to create our free IDs.  Then I laminated them at a local place.  They turned out great!

6) Choose a curriculum.
In my opinion, this is the most tedious and difficult thing to do.  I have researched for years and I am still not dead set on a curriculum. But I am content in knowing that I will probably always have different curriculums circulating in our household.  Some people need to buy a full curriculum to follow because they want a strict structure.  This sounds great! And it works best for many families.  Then there are parents like myself, who need to find a happy medium (biggest reason: lack of funds).  I've decided to pick and choose my own curriculum and set a relaxed daily, weekly, and monthly schedule to follow.

7) Prepare to receive negativity.
Although homeschooling is rapidly becoming more common, it is still not considered mainstream.  Anytime you choose to stray from the conventional path, you will experience negative remarks, snarky tones, or judgements.  It happens, and it's okay.  Others do not know your circumstances.  And no one knows your children like you do.  Continue to remind yourself that by following your instinct to homeschool, you are doing the absolute best you can for your children and family.  No need to get upset, offended, or defensive.  Maybe just keep a generic response in your mind, like: "Thank you for your concern.  I believe each family is different, and I am just trying to do what is best for my children."  Above all, do NOT allow others to influence your decisions.  It may be tough at times, but trust yourself.  I believe when sincerely looking for an answer, as loving parents we are guided by something much greater and stronger than societal influence.

8) Just go for it!  
"Sometimes you just need to go through a door." - Ransom Riggs
This quote is from the book Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children (an excellent Young Adult novel, and they are currently making the movie).  Going through the door, is the act of moving forward.  Although you may not like what you find on the other side of that door, you will learn and grow from making a decision and implementing it.  Don't be afraid of making mistakes.  The greatest achievements throughout history came after hundreds of mistakes and failures.  The happiest people I know are confident decision makers, who are not discouraged by obstacles. We are all capable of doing this.

Good luck in your educational endeavors!