Just setting out on the journey of homeschooling? Here’s an excerpt from “Getting Started,” Chapter 4 of the newly updated Guidebook, which is scheduled to come out this fall! Many thanks to Guidebook contributors Robin Zook and Gabe Harder for their work on this chapter.
Before embarking on your homeschooling journey, it is wise to chart a course. Whether you have made the commitment to educate your children at home or are still exploring the possibilities, there are 10 basic steps you can take to help you as you proceed.
Step #1: Catch the Vision
Although you may be tempted to skip on down to the more practical steps, you will gain greater benefit by taking the time to explore homeschooling in a more philosophical sense. It is very important to know why you are making this decision. Homeschooling is a wonderful journey, but there probably will be difficult days. On those days, you will need to be confident that you made a sound, informed decision.
Begin your journey by working through Chapter 2 – Vision of this book. Resist the urge to skim through it! Reading carefully and doing the activities will be beneficial, not only today but in the years to come.
Step #2: Know the Law
We are blessed in Colorado to have a very good homeschooling law. It offers us a lot of freedom not shared by homeschoolers in other states. It is imperative that each homeschooling parent have a thorough understanding of the law, so read Chapter 3 – The Law carefully.
You will need to understand the three different ways to legally homeschool in our state, then choose the one that is right for your family. Reading about the law may sound intimidating, but it is actually relatively simple. Reading it first-hand will empower you to understand your rights and enable you to fulfill your obligations with clarity and peace of mind.
Step #3: Get Connected
It is not wise to embark on this journey alone. The support of other families is vital to your homeschooling efforts not only for support and encouragement but also for the sharing of ideas and information. Find and join an established homeschool group. (See the Chapter 9 – Homeschool Groups for specific suggestions.)
Seek out like-minded families in your church. Team up with a close friend who is also teaching her children at home. Subscribe to home education magazines and online newsletters. Attend a homeschool convention or workshop. Utilize social media to follow blogs or join a group page. Whichever way you choose, it is worth your effort to reach out and get connected.
Step #4: Explore Homeschooling at Each Level
Although most homeschoolers will consider a child to be in a certain grade, it is common for a student to be working at levels other than his actual grade level. For example, a nine-year-old fourth grader might be doing sixth grade math and third grade language arts.
In this way, homeschooling offers the wonderful benefit of tailoring a child’s education to his academic needs and strengths, allowing him to take more time in difficult subjects or progress to the next level of a subject that has become easy, even in the middle of the school year.
Scope and sequence charts that offer a detailed list of what a child typically learns at each grade level are available in different forms and from a variety of publishers. (See Chapter 6 – Testing and Evaluation.) While these publications can be very helpful as a guide, it is not necessary to follow them exactly. Instead, you might want to consider your children’s school years with broader divisions, such as those on the following pages, and use the other charts as a place to get ideas and track progress.
Chapter is continued in the CHEC Homeschool Guidebook, available for preorder now!