Preparation And Support Help Parents Navigate This New Family Journey

Preparing to homeschool for the first time is an exciting new road to travel, but can also be a bumpy one as both parent and child learn to navigate this new and very personal, experience.

Making the decision to homeschool may be one of the most important choices youever make as a family, but starting off for the first time can be a trip into the unknown — and may be overwhelming due to the vast amount of information available.

But there are several thingsa new homeschool parent can do to ease the transition and make the most of the incredible journey you have chosen to embark upon.

Homeschooling siteThe Homeschool Mom sums up one of the greatest benefits for the family:

“It is a completely different way of thinking about education, and a completely different way of approaching education. It is teaching tailored specifically to individual children rather than according to a standardized set of guidelines or curriculum for the masses. And because of this individualization, home education is effective by virtue of the fact that it does not have to look like the public school classroom.”

There is an overwhelming amount of information available for parents looking to homeschool for the first time, especially in this digital age.

And there are several practical details that must be addressed before beginning to homeschool for the first time — it is a good idea to look at the big picture for your family first, and figure out all the minute details as you go.

One of the first things to do before taking the plunge is to become acquainted with the laws of your state and locality.

While homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, each state has its own regulations, testing requirements and procedures to follow.  Take some time to learn about your state guidelines, and join online forums or local homeschool groups to make sure your homeschooling journey begins without incident.

Talking to other homeschool parents and joining these groups prior to notifying your school district is a good way to become familiar with homeschooling practices in your area and will give you support during the first busy months of your school year.

Attending a local homeschool convention or taking your child to a homeschool group activity before the school year begins will give you feedback and allow you and your child to build relationships so you can hit the ground running.

As a parent, you are your child’s first teacher.  You understand them better than anyone else ever could, and therefore, you know your child’s strengths, weaknesses, and learning style.

The most important tool a homeschooling parent can use is their understanding of their child’s needs — and not to be forgotten — their own needs in the dual role as parent and teacher.

PBS Parents commented

“conversations about homeschooling often center on the kids—how they’re learning, what they’re learning, if they’re learning—but often, especially in the first years of homeschooling, the majority of the learning is actually being done by the parent. After all, becoming a teacher, developing an educational philosophy tailored to your child, navigating state education requirements and still parenting is a tall order, especially for someone just starting out.”

 Once a foundation is laid for the practical aspects of homeschooling, the fun can begin.

You and your child can look at curriculum packages, or create your own depending on your interests.

One of the greatest gifts of the homeschool experience is teaching our children to love learning, not to be forced through someone else’s ideas of a well-rounded education.

There are many different methods and approaches.  Some families like structure, routine, and teaching more traditional academics.

Others know their child learns best in a creative environment, and even math and science can be taught with a hands-on artistic flair.

Remember not to label your child — or yourself.  Your approach to homeschooling will evolve and change continuously.  You have the freedom to change and rework your curriculum at will depending on how your child responds to different techniques.

The beauty of homeschooling is that each child, even several children within the same family, can learn according to their own style and at their own pace.

Backwoods Home Magazine reported:

What kinds of activities does your child enjoy most? Does she count with blocks, love fingerpaint and modeling clay, enjoy taking apart and putting together Legos or other building toys? Does he enjoy being read to or listening to cassette recordings of storybooks? Or is she happiest curled up with a good book and silence all around?

People learn in all three ways: kinesthetic (by touching and handling things), auditory (by listening), and visual (including reading). Of course, children learn through all their senses, unless they’re physically disabled. However, since everyone tends to lean to one specific learning style, you can increase your child’s learning enjoyment by adapting the curriculum to fit his style.

Materials good for visual learners are workbooks, flash cards, matching games, instruction books, and charts. Good materials for auditory learners are verbal explanations, cassette tapes and CDs (recorded books), educational songs and rhymes, and rhythm instruments (for music class). For kinesthetic learners, try nature walks, model kits, gardening, puzzles, and typing instead of writing (faster and less frustrating).

In all the excitement and new experiences, remember homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint.

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You may feel frustrated, or tired, or worry you are not doing enough.

You may receive negative feedback from non-homeschooling friends and family who think your child is missing out on a traditional school experience.

And there may be times where difficult choices or sacrifices need to be made, whether financial or otherwise.

Have realistic expectations, and develop a realistic plan as you learn what works — and what doesn’t.

Perhaps most importantly, enjoy this journey with your children.  You are mom or dad first, and teacher second and the time spent learning about the world together is irreplaceable.

Don’t compare your children, or yourself, to other homeschoolers.  Your family is unique, and this is your time to nurture your individuality and spend these precious years reinforcing your values, traditions, and family bond.

Are you considering homeschooling for the first time?

What are your concerns or questions?

Or are you a veteran homeschool parent with a great tip to share?

Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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