Homeschool for beginners
Is it hard to homeschool? What do I need to homeschool? How do I homeschool? I’m so glad you’ve asked!
If you’re a parent during the pandemic, there’s a good chance you’ve had to ask yourself, “Should I homeschool my kids during COVID?” Or perhaps you’re wondering, Is it hard to homeschool? CAN I homeschool my kids? And even then, HOW do you homeschool? Maybe you’ve tried ‘virtual learning’ and your child just isn’t connecting with the lessons. …You’re wondering if there’s another choice.
These are all questions Dan and I had been asking ourselves for months leading up to the school year, and we finally decided to face our fears and take the leap. With so much uncertainty in the world, we chose to homeschool.
Granted, our daughter is in Kindergarten, so homeschool for us might look a little different than, say, homeschool for an 8th grader. But none-the-less, this is a decision that takes some real soul-searching and commitment before making. Because let’s be real, homeschooling is really on the parent to follow through with!
Maybe you’ve been doing virtual learning for a few months, or maybe your child is in in-person school and you’re thinking of alternatives – if so, please read on:
Is homeschool right for you? Here are some questions to ask:
– Am I home during the day, and can I make time? (1-4+ hrs everyday, depending on the grade).
-Can I stick to a schedule and/or routine?
-Do I feel homeschool is the safest place for my child during the pandemic? (Assuming this is the reason for considering it in the first place?)
-Am I willing to spend several hours researching and learning about curriculums before choosing one?
-Am I willing to spend time planning activities or prepping an existing lesson plan for each week?
Did you answer YES to most of these questions? You may be a good candidate to try homeschooling. If it still doesn’t feel clear whether or not homeschooling is right for you, so let’s keep talking.
What supplies do you need?
Homeschool doesn’t have to have big start-up costs, and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed when starting homeschool. Depending on your child’s grade level, the supplies will vary, but to give you an idea, this is the list of supplies I started with for my Kindergartener.
-Blank paper (drawing)
-Wide lined paper (writing)
-BrainQuest workbooks (more on this below)
-Sight word flash cards
-Blank notecards (for making your own sight words)
-Abacus (this one is simple and works great!)
As the school year progresses, I’ve added a few additional supplies to aid in our subjects/interests. Depending on what you’re focusing on, you may choose to add supplemental supplies too.
-Dry erase board
-Grade appropriate reader books
Not so bad right? Depending on what curriculum you choose, you may or may not have to purchase some of these things. Which leads me to my next topic, curriculum.
Choosing a curriculum
Secular vs non-secular?
If you’re super new to homeschool, you might be unfamiliar with this term, (I was), but it’s important. Essentially, it’s asking if you want to integrate religion into your curriculum or not. If you’re not religious, or you simply don’t want religious undertones in your child’s schooling, you’ll want to look fo a SECULAR curriculum. Anything NOT affiliated with a church or faith is considered secular.
From my experience, it is more common to find non-secular (AKA religion-based) homeschool curriculums. But I was looking to keep religion out of my child’s schooling, and instead let that be a topic we discuss and learn about OUTSIDE of school. So I went with a secular curriculum.
One of the beauties of homeschool, is that you can be as rigid or as flexible as you want to be. I went with a blended curriculum (basically, I combined a couple), to suit my schedule and child’s learning style. (And also my teaching style!) The two I used were:
Oak Meadow is a secular homeschool curriculum with everything you need to get started with homeschooling, even if you don’t know what you’re doing! They have a parent resource book and VERY specific lessons for each week, as well as activities for each day! It really is an incredible resource if you are dedicated to providing a well-rounded work day for your kiddo, and don’t have the time to plan lessons. They describe themselves as: Experiential education for curious and creative learners.
I do feel like it’s worth mentioning, while I highly recommend Oak Meadow as a secular homeschool curriculum, I did find the kindergarten program to be a bit more robust than what I was looking for. I found we didn’t do many of the activities, although they looked like a ton fun! 🙂
I think as the grade level increases, I’d be more interested in continuing Oak Meadow.
At $7-$10 each, these workbooks are an incredibly affordable way to homeschool your kids (especially at lower grade levels). They contain TONS of fun, grade-level appropriate worksheets. Self-paced (if you want it to be), or pick and choose which pages your child will complete each day. These workbooks can be used to supplement any other curriculum you choose, or create your own with these as your guide!
Will my kid fall behind if I homeschool?
It’s understandable (and expected) to be scared of your child falling behind if you choose to homeschool. The best thing you can do is educate yourself on milestones and expectations for your child’s grade. The internet is full of resources! Or if you’re already enrolled in a public school, you can hop on the phone and have a chat with the school about what they consider milestones to progress from one grade to the next. **This is especially important to do if you think you may enroll your child back in the public school system in the future!
Homeschool Law – Am I allowed to homeschool my child?
This website is an excellent resource to find out everything you need to know to legally homeschool your child.
-Bring out special markers or pens (I like these sparkly ones) when you know you’re working on something particularly hard for them. It adds excitement to an otherwise daunting assignment.
-Keep positive, forward momentum and DON’T sweat the small stuff! (like correcting backwards letters/numbers, misspellings, etc). Just make a note of areas that need improvement and come back to them.
-Save everything you work on! Make a binder, or have a plastic tote dedicated just to homeschool. Saving worksheets, etc will help you and your child see all that they’ve learned over the year, and also is proof of their learning if they should need to enroll in a school system in the future.
I hope this helps answer a few questions and gives you the confidence to take the leap toward homeschooling your child if that’s what you decide is best for your family. ❤️