advice, for parents, schooling tips

How to Start Homeschooling

I see so many people turning to Homeschooling and it had me curious, how does a parent even start the homeschool process? Several of my friends have been or have started homeschooling their children and I am both in awe and envious at the same time. I feel like, if I have questions then I can only imagine all the others who do as well. My job as a writer for this site is to inform and educate. I chatted with a couple homeschooling mamas (who also happen to be business owners) Maggie,Crystal, Amanda, and Shannon, to get some amazing information for you. I am excited to share this with you and if you have been considering or are on the fence about this process, I can only hope this helps you in some way! -Amanda/founder of TFJ

courtesy of Crystal Kary

How do you know homeschooling is right for you?

Maggie added:
I knew I wanted to homeschool before my first son was old enough to go to school. I just assumed I was a helicopter mom or anxious. So I brushed off the idea and told myself it wasn’t possible. Then we went to a private preschool and it was… fine. Not great, good most of the time, bad at times but it’s what I thought we needed to do. Just go with the flow, do what is expected. We transitioned to public school for Kindergarten.

The first day my 5 year old asked me in the car on the way to school “Mom, don’t you think it’s weird that kids are supposed to spend 8 hours a day away from their family?” It took me a minute to give him a good answer. I couldn’t think of one. I simply agreed that it was strange.

We approached the front door of the school, ready to walk my son in for his first day of school, ever, and we were not greeted with smiles. Instead a teacher put her hand on my shoulder, and through a chuckle told me “time to let go mom, you stop here.” I wasn’t allowed in the building and my son looked back at me with fear. This wasn’t right for us, and we both knew it.

home to start homeschooling
Maggie’s youngest plays with alphabet letters

Shannon’s situation was a little different; read her take:
“Our son went to public school until 2nd grade. We are military and found out we would be moving in the me middle of his 3rd grade year. For those reasons that is why we chose to homeschool at first.”

How do you choose a curriculum?

Crystal mentioned:

“At first we used a big box curriculum that came with all the bells and whistles. We used it for 1st grade and half of 2nd. Gavin started getting really bored and the stories we were reading just didn’t keep his attention. I started having doubts and felt like the curriculum was putting a lot of pressure on me with trying to get everything done. We ended up taking more of a minimalist/unschooling approach and that has worked best for us as of now”

Shannon used trial and Error:

“The first year I did a free online curriculum and I just added a few things here and there on what I wanted to do. I added spelling because that was something that was important to me for his learning. I also added cursive/handwriting because that was something I wanted him to learn. The second year I went to the Thrift store and found a few pieces and I just watched a lot of YouTube curriculum reviews. I feel like you still always grow and learn new things to work for you as far as curriculum. Things that work one year you make realize doesn’t work for you the next. That is 100% the beauty of it”

What steps did you have to take to start the process?

Maggie who lives in Maryland said:

” Each state is different, so research the rules and know your rights. For us, it was as simple as signing a form at the end of the school year at the school itself, informing them we have no intention to come back and we have plans to homeschool. Mid summer we submit our intention letter to the county and that was it! The best advice I can give is to know what is required for your portfolio review… then work backwards and plan your curriculum for the year accordingly. “

courtesy of Maggie Mudd-Stewart

Shannon started in South Carolina:
” The most important step to take when starting the homeschool process is to make sure what the laws are on homeschooling your children in your state. In South Carolina you had different options but I chose the one with accountability. I had to find a service that I paid a fee to that would accept my grades twice a year and I had to check in with them. They had make sure I was doing what I was suppose to as far as not just leaving my kid home and not teaching him.

Here in Alaska its so much more freeing! You have options here. The first being you do it freely. You don’t have to answer to anyone if you don’t want to. You can teach whatever you want. The second option is you can sign up with the state. You check in ever so often, you take their state test at the end of the year, and you could receive money from the state.”

How have your kids adjusted to the homeschool process?

Maggie’s kids are loving it:

“My children have adjusted so well… I feel like I have my son back. We watched him struggle with boredom, bullies and teachers who ignored his questions or shut them down because they were not related to the tests. I have my curious, inquisitive, fun, kind, gentle, lover of learning back. It’s wonderful. “

Crystal’s two boys are excelling:

They are great, friendly, and well rounded kids. Since they are free to explore their own interests, they have really excelled. “

Amanda was concerned at first but wishes she would’ve started sooner:

” This was my biggest concern which is why I let my kids finish out their school year. Thinking back now it was all so silly but I wouldn’t be a Mom if I didn’t worry over all of the small things. My kids LOVE homeschool and have overcome all of the insecurities they formed in public school. They have confidence and feel in control over their day and their education. We can explore areas of interest. When things aren’t working we can find things that do. Education is no longer a cookie cutter experience that they must conform to. We also now learn all of the time. It has become a lifestyle for our family. It is the best decision we have ever made and it has not only affected their education but also our family life. I can’t ever imagine going back to a public school world and I am not actually a little sad we didn’t start sooner. “

crystal’s boys at their table workspace

The Decision can only be made by you

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong decision but we hope that some of these insights give you some guidance on what could work for you and your family! These children are our future and their education is so important- go with our gut and your heart. There are tons of resources out there that have made it so much easier to get started! Best of luck with whatever your family decides and know that your children are in incredible hands either way! -Amanda

how to start homeschooling
Shannon’s son working on a project at home
Shannon’s son exploring. Homeschool allows you to have your own agenda, your own plans, and it doesn’t have to be in a classroom like setting
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