1. Educate yourself about home schooling.
- Read books. (Suggested reading list is found here.)
- Talk to experienced homeschoolers.
- Investigate the various support organizations and help available on the web.
2. Pray for God’s wisdom and guidance. This is the single most important step in the whole process!
3. Develop your philosophy of education. A philosophy of education should include:
- The reasons for choosing to home school your children, and
- The biblical foundation for your decision. (See resources here.)
4. Investigate the legalities of home schooling in your state, and follow through on steps necessary for legal status. Each state has its own laws pertaining to home schooling which are different from state to state. Home School Legal Defense Association (www.hslda.org) is an excellent resource for discovering your state’s requirements.
5. Determine your child’s mode of learning and learning style. Two helpful resources for focusing on learning styles are these books by Cynthia Tobias, The Way They Learn and Every Child Can Succeed (they can be found here).
6. Review programs of study, choose appropriate materials (helpful information found here) and purchase (or borrow) what is needed.
- Each student needs materials covering language arts, math, science, and history or geography (often referred to as social studies). Also recommended are materials for fine arts and foreign language.
- You do not need to purchase everything brand new. You can usually find discounted and/or used materials on the Internet, through local home school support groups, and from other homeschoolers.
- Choose materials that are the most comfortable fit for your family and your circumstances.
- Remember, there is no such thing as the perfect curriculum. All materials will need to be adjusted somewhat. You should look for materials that need the least amount of adjustment on your part.
- Plan to use your local public library as much as you are able.
7. Organize your schooling/curriculum materials and set up methods of record keeping. Try to keep it simple; it is not necessary to reproduce a classroom situation in your home.
- Set aside an area or space, with bookcases or a filing cabinet, specifically for your home schooling to take place. A special “school room” is nice but not necessary.
- Decide on a method of documenting the course work completed (more information can be found here and here). A daily diary or daily lesson plan should include:
- Pages or concepts covered,
- Lists of books read, projects completed, papers written, assignments completed, and the date on which the work was begun and completed.
- Organize ways of keeping track of completed course work and assignments. For example:
- Each child may keep track of his or her own work in a 3-ring binder, or
- The parent may choose to keep each child’s written work in individual files.
- Put together a portfolio for each child. A portfolio can be kept in a large 3-ring binder and should include, but is not limited to the child’s yearly attendance, samples of the child’s best written work from each course or subject, photos of projects or activities, samples of art work, documentation of special activities and field trips, sample lab reports.
- Plan out your school year:
- In most states, 180 days of attendance are required by state law (i.e., 5 days per week for 36 weeks).
- Homeschooling families do not need to adhere to the public school calendar. It is important to develop a yearly calendar that works with your family’s circumstances, goals and schedule.
- Once you have planned a yearly calendar, divide up the course materials over the calendar year you have planned.
- This will give you an idea of how much needs to be covered on a daily basis.
- Always include some extra days for unexpected situations that may occur during the school year.
8. Gather support materials that you will need, such as:
- Dictionary (appropriate for the age levels of your child or children)
- Globe and World Atlas
- Computer and printer
- Current library card for your local public library
- School supplies, such as pens, pencils, paper, 3-ring binders, composition notebooks, fine arts supplies and lab materials.
9. Investigate standardized testing options. HSLDA has a summary of the individual state laws concerning home schooling and testing. Be sure that you are aware of what your state requires and what options that homeschoolers are allowed to use.
10. Develop a support system.
- Find a home school support group in your area with Christian families who have similar convictions to yours (see here). If there isn’t one already, then consider starting one.
- Educate your extended family, church family and friends so that they can be a support to you.