Here you are wondering if you should homeschool your children. Where do you start? First, take a deep breath. No one knows your child(ren) better than you, so not to worry because you’ve got this! The following information are specific steps to help you in your research:
The first thing you should do is look into your state’s requirements. Search the web for your state’s board of education and lookup “homeschooling.” In Illinois you’ll want to look at https://www.isbe.net/Pages/Homeschool.aspx. Here you’ll find additional resources, requirements and more. In the state of IL you are not required to register your child as a homeschooler.
After reviewing state requirements, it’s time to start researching the various homeschool styles. While there are many different ways to homeschool, the following list are the most common. You don’t need to choose just one way of learning. Many families will mix them up. The idea here is to think about which style appeals most to you and your family and go from there. A better idea of how to homeschool will give you a roadmap for when it comes time to choosing curriculum.
- Homeschooling on your own
- Charlotte Mason
- Unit Study
- Nature Based
Homeschooling on your own – In this style four or more subjects are studied daily and a boxed curriculum is used. This is a safe way to start when you’re unsure of a model and just want to get started right away.
Classical – (The Trivium). In this model education is divided into three stages; grammar, logic and rhetoric (dialectic.) In Grammar, the child (ages pre-k – 11) is learning & memorizing facts. In Logic (ages 11- 13) the child is understanding & organizing those facts into rational order. By Rhetoric (dialectic) wisdom (ages 14+) the child is taking that knowledge and using it in practical ways. This style is the original liberal arts education. Literature, Writing, languages and memorization are a focus.
Charlotte Mason – This style is a Christian based philosophy that stresses structure and “living books.” Outside time daily is important “Nature walks,” as well as narration, dictation and good habit training. There is no standard curriculum.
Unschooling – Unschooling is not how something is done, but why. They use the world to learn, depending upon how they want to learn about the topic. It is a belief that if you allow a person of any age to pursue their own interests throughout life they will end up gaining the knowledge they will need in order to pursue the life they want.
Montessori – The original works of Maria Montessori’s original concept was to respect the child’s inner desire to learn and allow him/her to make spontaneous and free choices within a carefully prepared environment (structure the environment, not the child). The role of the adult is to observe and use brief teachable moments to introduce new concepts.
Waldorf – is a non-Christian spiritually based program featuring delayed academics and a rich variety of music, arts and literature. The curriculum is geared to the child’s stages of development and brings together all elements — intellectual, artistic, spiritual and movement. Rituals of daily and seasonal life are strongly emphasized.
Unit Study Approach – Unit studies can be as flexible or structured. They are in-depth study of one specific topic (trees, planets, sharks) that takes into account many areas of the topic, such as geography, science, history, art, etc. It is a complete immersion into the topic.
Nature Based – Spending as much time outdoors as possible and learning about the world around you. A book to learn more about this method is called Wild + Free by Ainsley Arment.
Eclectic – This style beats to it’s own drum. No one particular style is used here. Eclectic homeschoolers don’t pick any one style. They pick and choose what curriculum to use for certain subjects and nature journal by spending time outside.
- So now that you might like a style (or two), start reading and asking questions. There are a host of books at the library, bookstores or online on homeschooling as well as on all the styles mentioned above.
- Seek out homeschooling families and ask them questions. Many families are happy to share their experiences and be a fantastic resource.
- Discuss the idea with your family. Make sure your spouse is on board as well as your children. Homeschooling works best when both partners are supportive of the idea. Give your children time to “deschool” especially if they’ve been a traditional school setting. They need time to adjust so let them have it.
- Make a plan and leave room for adjustments and flexibility. Homeschooling families take time to plan and also make room to change things up a bit if they feel something isn’t working out just right.
- Consider joining a group for additional support. Check with your local library or online for groups in your area. Some meet for social events, study, field trips, etc. Not only will your child(ren) make friends, but it’s refreshing to meet other like-minded parents that you can also connect with. You’re not alone in this journey!
So sit back, grab a notebook, and start diving in! Remember that thousands of parents have homeschooled successfully for years. The benefits are tremendous (I’ll post more about that later.) Happy Homeschool preparing! You’ll do great!!