This is the second article in a series by Melissa Pinkley, designed to help new homeschoolers get started in the adventure of home education. This series is largely a compilation of input and feedback from homeschool veterans, sharing their own experiences and tips on how getting started in homeschooling can be made easier.
Your family has committed to begin homeschooling. Your heart is firm on your decision, but your head is spinning with unanswered questions. The Homeschool Enrichment Readers continue to offer you wisdom they've gained from their experiences. As you remember to keep your relationships the priority, answers can be found to the questions that plague your mind.
What does the law require of homeschoolers?
This is one of the first questions that must be answered when you begin homeschooling. However, the answer varies depending on your state. State laws determine the homeschool requirements for their citizens. You can find your state's requirements on the Homeschool Legal Defense Association's website at www.hslda.org/laws. Your local homeschool support group should also have the requirements for your state. If you still have questions, speak with a veteran homeschooler in your area. Abiding by the state's laws upholds the integrity of the entire homeschool community.
Where Can I Find More Information on Homeschooling?
New homeschoolers usually hunger for information (old homeschoolers too!). Many veteran readers commented about the good homeschooling books available. We encourage you to “read to learn for yourself.” Reading two or more books on homeschooling will give you a better understanding of the journey ahead of you. Ask some veteran homeschoolers for suggestions. We also encourage you to subscribe to a homeschool magazine. Homeschool magazines can provide you a variety of topics in each issue.
You may know that these books exist, but are not sure where to get them. You can find homeschooling books in several places. I recommend using your local library for your initial reading of any book. You can screen the books for free by taking advantage of the library. If your desired book is not available at your local library, ask your librarian if you can get it through an interlibrary loan. There is no cost for interlibrary loans and you can obtain almost any book you desire through this process. You may also want to ask if your local library has any special programs for homeschoolers. Some libraries allow homeschoolers longer borrowing times. The local library can be a valuable asset throughout the homeschool journey.
When you discover a book that you would like to own, you may be able to find it at a local bookstore. If not, you may find it in a homeschool resource catalog or at a homeschool convention. You can begin receiving homeschool resource catalogs by contacting the advertisements that interest you in this magazine.
Your local homeschool support group can provide you information on conventions in your area. Homeschool conventions can be found at both the regional and state level. There are areas at the conventions where homeschool books are sold. As one reader stated, homeschool conventions “may be a little intimidating or even overwhelming at first, but there is something about seeing so many other people who are all gathered together in one place that can provide a shot in the arm.” You may also want to participate in the convention's workshops for beginning homeschoolers.
How Do I Know What Will Work Best for My Child?
We all want to teach our child in the best way we can. Homeschool veterans suggest investigating your child's learning style to learn what works best for your child. It is very helpful to know your child's learning style when you begin the homeschooling adventure. We suggest reading books by Cynthia Tobias. We found this author's books assisted us in gaining understanding of our children's learning styles. Do not be intimidated by the idea of “learning styles.” As you read the books and work with your child, you will learn to understand his/her learning style much better.
How Am I Going to Get Everything Done?
Schoolwork, housework, relationships, grocery shopping - the list of to do's can seem ominous at times. However, you can achieve a happy home and homeschool at the same time. The first thing to remember is the people in your family are what makes your home. Together you can work to achieve a comfortable level in your daily life. One reader explained “Set routines as much as possible! Kids like routines and it makes your life easier.” Guidelines and chore charts help everyone understand what must be done and what is expected of them. When everyone has a job to do and you work together, you are actually teaching. You are training your children disciplines for life.
I have to admit there are days when the house isn't touched, so that we can complete a big project or spend a little bit more time on a topic. On those days when my children have eager faces from learning - I am so glad I homeschool! One veteran suggests on those days that you “keep the basic necessities of meals and laundry humming along.” There will be days when you choose to let some chores be dismissed, but try to stay on top of the chores that will create more work if they are ignored. You may find that some of your plans do not work, don't get discouraged - keep trying till you find a plan that does.
Next, how do you figure out what homeschool method is best for your family? Find out in Part 3 of the “New to Homeschooling” series!
Melissa Pinkley enjoys life with her husband, Wes. They learn a lot from their four children: Ben, Micah, Levi, and Abigail. Homeschooling goes on 24/7 for the whole Pinkley family. They have been homeschooling for more than ten years. The Lord is gracious and continues to help them follow Him.