Help for Homeschoolers

One of the things most people who are considering homeschooling want to know is this: How do I get started? My answer is simple: Just do it!

Before we started homeschooling, I read everything I could find about “how to home school” and talked to the few people I knew who educated their children at home. I perused catalogs and curricula and how-to’s, and don’t-do’s, and must-do’s, and need-to’s until I was a nervous wreck.

I got so caught up in the planning and thinking about “how to” that I was afraid it was too big for me. I almost gave up before I got started. I thought that I had to make up a year’s worth of lesson plans, detailing how each minute of every day would be spent and what would be learned from each activity and what tests would be needed to ensure the depth of learning and blah, blah, blah WHEW!

I was making it so much harder than it has to be. Yes, taking that first step and actually STARTING is scary. I was treading in waters I had never been in before. I finally had to make myself choose a date: What will be our first day of school? I chose the day after Labor Day – because, well, just because. I bought a Kindergarten workbook and my son and I sat down on the day after Labor Day and started doing activities in the workbook. He colored a little while. We talked about letters and numbers. We read a story book and our first day was done!

I was shocked at how easy it had been. I know some people will read this and think “Hmmmm. That’s not how they do the first day of Kindergarten in a ‘real’ school!” You’re right! Homeschooling is nothing like the public education most of us were brought up in. Why? Because every child is unique and different and every home education experience is unique and different.
I know of some homeschoolers who begin their day at 6 a.m. and have strictly regimented classes and schedules and it works great for their family. I know of others who unschooled, have no real schedule and just basically live and learn day in and day out. While there are others that find a happy medium somewhere in between the two. Our family floats between the two and we find that it works for us. It doesn’t work for everybody.

As I was getting started in homeschooling, I found some resources that were – and are – invaluable to me. Websites, magazines, and organizations that have provided information, answered questions, given inspiration and encouragement as I have floundered my way through.

I am in no way an expert on homeschooling. I am actually a relatively new homeschooler having been at it for only about three to four years. I know of plenty of veteran homeschoolers with ten-plus years under their belts who are far more informed and experienced, and I have found that most homeschool parents love to talk about their educational choices.

If you are trying to find out how to get started, start by asking questions. Every homeschool family you talk to will tell you a different story about their journey that will give you good information for yours. Following are some of my favorite home schooling resources.

Magazines:
Homeschooling Today (www.homeschooltoday.com ) – This is an overtly Christian home schooling magazine and it’s got great advice and ideas.
Home Education Magazine (www.homeedmag.com ) – This is a more general home schooling magazine and is more nonreligious. It has a lot of good information and insights for the homeschooler whether newbie or veteran.
No Greater Joy (www.nogreaterjoy.org ) – This is a ministry and magazine that is aimed at families who homeschool but also families who want to enrich their Christian faith. The Pearls also offer a lot of resources for marriage enrichment, parenting and discipline. This is a free subscription.
The Old Schoolhouse (www.thehomeschoolmagazine.com ) – This is a new one to me. I have just received my first copy of this one and it seems to be packed full of great information.
Websites:
www.dltk-kids.com – I love this website! It has crafts, lesson plans, coloring sheets, worksheets, songs, games, activities and such for just about any subject under the sun. You type in the subject – for example Christmas – and you can choose whatever printables you want. It even has links to other great sites. I have done entire unit studies just from dltk-kids.
www.about.com/homeschooling – tips and information on curricula, crafts, teaching suggestions for all age groups and lots more.
www.homeschoolfreestuff.com – this site has listings of different freebies available to home educators. There are computer programs, etc. that you just need to pay shipping to receive.
www.homeschoolsoup.com – features stories and information from homeschooling families.
www.homeschoolinformation.com – great comprehensive site – if you can’t find it here, you probably don’t need it.
www.abcteach.com – crafts, lessons, puzzles, and lots of other curriculum helps.
Organizations:
Illinois Christian Home Educators can be found at www.iche.org. This is a great state organization that also sends out a free quarterly magazine that is always informative. The website also give information about local support groups, state law, etc.
NATHHAN is NATional cHallenged Homeschoolers Associated Network. The website is www.nathhan.com . This is a great organization that provides support, referrals and information for families homeschooling children with special needs. They also send out a free magazine that is extremely helpful to families of special needs kids.
HomeSchool Legal Defense Association can be found at www.hslda.org . This organization provides legal information and assistance to homeschooling families. Families who buy a membership can receive legal counsel from HSLDA attorneys if they are ever challenged in the legal system over their educational choices.

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