So, you have taken the leap and decided that homeschooling is best for your family…now what? (Be sure to check out this post: Do you have what it takes to Homeschool?)
First Things First – Find Your “Why”
The first thing I recommend is to get out a pencil and a notebook.
Now, write out your thoughts to the following questions…
These questions are not meant to be tricky and there is no right or wrong answer. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can do this again each year and your answers may grow as your family does! Personally, I am an example person. Those questions would leave me with a blank brain! So, for fellow moms like me, this is how I would answer these questions:
Why do I want to homeschool?
- It enables our children to have full opportunities to grow, learn, and be themselves.
- To allow more time together as a family, and not just the “left-overs” at the end of the day.
- Encourage our kids to find how they are uniquely made and gifted by God and to follow those dreams.
- Support a slower and more experience-rich lifestyle.
- Develop strong family relationships and faith in God.
When my children graduate, what do I want them to have?
- Strong life skills.
- A solid understanding of who God is and how much He loves them.
- To know how they are gifted, what they are passionate about, and find a way to make money doing it.
Now, the first answer is something you hold onto on tough days and it brings you back to what it is all for. The second answer is your education philosophy and what you use to screen the things you do or do not participate in. Believe it or not, there are so many things to be involved in that you can fill up your days FAST! When an opportunity comes knocking, you can measure it by your philosophy and whether it goes toward your goals or not.
Give Yourself Freedom
A person would need days to go over all of the curriculum choices and styles available to families these days. There literally are no shortage of choices. There is also a really good chance whatyou start with is not necessarily what you will stick with. Personally, we have switched “styles” and curriculum three times in the four years I have been homeschooling! There are lots of quizzes online, like this one, that will help you narrow down what your style could be and that is helpful for getting started. From there, it is trial and error my friends.
That is why the second thing I suggest is giving yourself the freedom to figure it out. Allow for change and to let go of expectations. This is especially true if you are removing a child from public school. You need to almost take a vacation for at least a few months, because you will all need time to “de-school” and figure out a style that will probably not look like a classroom. That is great because homeschooling is a lifestyle and not meant to imitate a class with 30 kids in it.
Plug Into Your Community
Homeschooling is amazing and so much fun – but it can be lonely sometimes. My final suggestion, and probably the most important, is to plug into the community. It is where you go when you need to laugh about daily shenanigans as well as support when your child refuses to cooperate. Don’t know any homeschooling families? Here are some resources to check out!
Homeschool Assistance Programs
Linn County is really blessed to have three different homeschool association programs you can partner with. Each one is different. I encourage you to take a tour and learn more about each before deciding. If you are planning to homeschool next school year (2017-2018), you are on a bit of a timeline to decide. The open enrollment deadline is March 1st, 2017. The two primary exceptions to this are for kindergarteners (you have until September 1st, 2017) or you move into a new school district after the deadline (see full list here).
Some of the benefits of being involved are the opportunities organized for you like field trips, being able to easily meet other homeschool families, and a bit of a break when dropping your children off for classes. These are not necessarily cons, but you do have a supervising teacher you meet with quarterly. It’s not a big deal for me, I love mine, but you don’t get to pick this person. There are forms and vaccination records to turn in for the state and depending on the program, a more set schedule.
There are at least three different Classical Conversation communities in the Cedar Rapids area alone and it keeps growing! This organization is a national homeschooling organization that uses bible based curriculum geared for ages 4 – high school. While it is not free, moms can elect to tutor (which would be leading the group of kids through materials) and that will greatly subsidize the cost. Be sure to check out their website as registration for many campuses is opening up for the next year. There are also open houses soon to check it out!
This list is not all-inclusive by any means, but here are a few larger groups – that are local – you can join to introduce yourself and meet other families. They are also awesome resources for support, questions, and garnering wisdom from homeschool parents further down the road. As a member of each of these groups, I encourage you to join us and introduce yourself because I personally would love to connect with you!
Each year, Homeschool Iowa/NICHE organizes a large homeschool conference which will be taking place in Coralville! It is June 1st – 3rd, 2017. There is curriculum for sale, workshops, speakers, and children’s program. Get the full details here.
Homeschool Iowa is my bookmarked resource for homeschool laws, state forms, and answers to my how-to questions. I recommend it for you as well. This website is the main hub and details what forms you need to submit, whether you are joining an assistance program or not.
What questions or concerns do you have about getting started with homeschooling?
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