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Considerations For Beginning Homeschooling

Aug 17, 2007
As you begin to think about whether you want to homeschool your children keep in the back of your mind several important points. This will be helpful to find out before you pull your child out of traditional school and start your actual learning time.

1) What does my state law say about homeschooling?
2) What kind of curriculum will I use?

State Laws
Every state in the United States of America says something in their law books pertaining to homeschooling. According to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, there are four areas which states are divided into for homeschool requirements.

As for the curriculum you use there are many to choose from and much to read about. Right now there are thousands of web sites, workshops, book fairs and companies of curriculum, which specialize in this homeschool arena. Many times curriculum can be very overwhelming to a new homeschool parent.

When parents ask me what kind of curriculum they should use for their children, I tell them they need to find out for themselves what their own children need to learn. Homeschool for parents then takes on an everlasting job of finding out exactly what their children need to learn in their life until they get out on their own. This is sometimes done by trial or error but there are some points you can keep in mind.

1. There is a great deal of study involved before you start. You need to study up on the different types of catalogues, lesson manuals, books, computer programs and other materials before going to those fairs. You can find much of this on the Internet by typing "homeschool" into a search engine. You can also ask other homeschool families what they use.

If you don't know any, find out about your local association meetings and ask questions. Or you can read about curriculums from companies willing to send you a free catalogue.

When you go to a curriculum fair for the first time, DO NOT BUY ANYTHING. Just look at what is there. Then, leave. The next day go back and look again. If you still feel strongly about buying something (especially the $200-$300 sets) then make an educated purchase. The biggest mistake to make is to spend big money on a curriculum you don't know much about and then end up not wanting to use it and then you are stuck. All that can be avoided if you do some research on what is available.

2. If you do make the mistake of buying the wrong kind of curriculum, don't make the mistake of pushing your children into finishing the whole book. Either pick bits and pieces out to use through out the year or just resell it to someone else and start over.
But don't despair about the curriculum. Start early enough before you have to actually home school so you will have time to decide. For example: if you have a preschooler at the age of 3 or 4, that would be a good time to start looking around and studying what options you have to teach your child. You don't always have to start a child at the age of five.

If there is an emergency where you have to pull your child out of school right away, contact your local homeschool association. Many times you can find second hand books suitable in an emergency and they will know the state law requirements. This does happen quite often. But with genuine concern for your child and persistent parental study, you can get through anything.

Homeschool is such a challenging opportunity. I say challenging because it can test your patience with your own children and make you feel as if you didn't learn anything when you went to school. I say opportunity because your child will have the chance to learn at home in a comfortable environment. Who ever said having the same age group peers help children to learn appropriate behavior? Being in the company of adults regulates how a child should act.

In homeschooling, you also get to decide what your children will learn. There are no state mandates and no school authorities breathing down your neck.
You also have to remember that public school is a modern invention. It has been only in the last 150 years of human history that we have had this public school system to teach our own children. Parents used to educate their children or find a tutor to do it for them in their own home. So this system is still really being tested and the trouble spots are still being resolved.

Another added bonus for homeschooling is that you will learn all that you missed from school and at the end of the day; you feel that you really accomplished something. It is much more satisfying than a regular 9 to 5 job. Best of all, you will learn to love your child like no one else ever has. You will get closer to each other, which builds a great parent-child relationship.
About the Author
Joyce Jackson is an educational expert and consultant in northern California. For her latest book and information see Homeschooling Easy.
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