Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tips for Homeschoolers, Day 2: Getting Started

As I began my first year of homeschooling, I had a five year old, a two year old, and no money.

For Kindergarten, my understanding was and is that the government saw "socialization" as the main goal for the five-year-olds as they started their long journey through government indoctrination. I did not want a government education for my children. We had hung around the playground of the elementary school briefly, and I was shocked at the foul language! And this was 25 years ago! But my husband did not think I had the discipline to home school successfully, and we couldn't afford a private school.

We got a reprieve the first year, though, because my daughter turned five the day after the cut-off, so to attend public school she had to wait a year. However, with no structure to our home learning and play, she was bored to tears and making me crazy. In January, with my husband's consent, we began what I considered home schooling Kindergarten. My husband figured that if I "failed", our daughter would just start public school in September.

I had an understanding, from conversations with other parents, that for kindergarten (at that time and in the Denver area) the children learned their letters, numbers, colors and shapes. I also planned to teach her to read. I checked The Writing Road to Reading, by Romalda Spaulding, out from our local Denver library, read it cover to cover, and made my own phonics flash cards to use.
Image result for writing road to reading
Kindergarten went well; we called ourselves done in June. My daughter was already reading! We never looked back. Today I will share with you tips I learned along the way. If you have already decided you will home school, I am assuming you have prayed about it and consulted your spouse. If you believe this is the direction you are going to take, continue to pray, and move forward intentionally.

Since I began homeschooling I have seen some great resources to help new home schoolers that you might find helpful. The first was by Homeschooling ABCs by Knowledge Quest Maps. I reviewed it with the Crew in 2008 on HomeschoolBlogger.com, but that doesn't exist any more and my review no longer exists.

I can also recommend Successful Homeschooling Made Easy.
  1. Learn the law and comply with it. HSLDA has a page to help you get startedImage result for HSLDA logo
  2. Learn about various home school styles and decided which one(s) you think will fit your home school: Classical, Charlotte Mason, Traditional, eclectic (a combination), etc. 
  3. Learn about learning styles. Figure out which style(s) seems to fit your child(ren). Knowing this can help you adjust the method(s) you plan to use to help your child(ren) learn the best way possible, the way that fits him or her best: auditory, visual, tactile, etc. Be aware that your natural tendency will be to teach according to your own learning style, which will not necessarily be the way your child is best able to learn.
  4. Make a plan or a skeleton plan, and keep a record of everything you do that can be remotely considered "school".
    My home schooling began in Colorado -- love those home school laws! Now I am in Maryland where it is specified that I demonstrate that I have offered regular instruction in Math, English, Science, Social Studies, Music, Art, Physical Education and Health (even though the public schools don't do all these in every grade!). Because I chose to receive oversight by a church school rather than a government representative, I also need demonstrate that we cover Bible. A planner is essential! I created a Word document planner a long time ago that you can have HERE, but if you want a paper printed out, it costs about the same to buy a printed planner. If you buy a printed planner, you end up writing everything out by hand, and sometimes make mistakes that require correction fluid. Here are planners I have tried: The Ultimate Homeschool Planner, by Apologia; Hey Mama! Planner, by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine; The Homeschooler's JournalHome School Planet, by the Homeschool Buyer's Co-op; Homeschool Office, by Lord Heritage.  
  5. Recognize that "home school" is now your primary job during the day. Put it first; do it first. Never neglect it. In the beginning, with one child, it can take one to four hours a day (when you are counting everything you can as school, such as looking at a leaf, going for a walk, reading a book, making cookies... There is still time for house work -- sorting the laundry you can teach colors and "home economics"! 
  6. Do not schedule appointments for doctor, dentist, eye doctor, physical therapy or hair cuts during school hours. Do school first and schedule your appointment for 2:00 or later.
  7. Less important now than then, but be cautious about going out during school hours to go grocery shopping or other errands with school-aged kids. Even just yesterday at the doctor's my 16-year-old was asked, "Not in school today?" Usually doctors at least figure the kid was taken out of school for the doctor's appointment, but not this office.
  8. Take advantage of FREE. Use library books. Scour the Internet. For math manipulatives (counters) I saved milk jug lids. We made sidewalk chalk from egg shells! We did Science experiments from library books. Image result for counting bears
  9. Find a local support group that is a comfortable fit for you. Support groups encourage you and also provide group opportunities for field trips, co-ops, standardized testing, used curriculum sales, curriculum advice and many other helpful things.
  10. Go on field trips you can afford and manage.
  11. Manage your schedule carefully so that you don't do so many fun outside activities that you aren't working on "readin', 'ritin', and 'rithmatic".
In my state we are required to create a portfolio to demonstrate that we are teaching in the following subject areas for grades K-8: Math, Science, Social Studies, English, Art, Music, Physical Education and Health. In college we teach to the state's requirements for high school graduation. There is so much more available to use now compared to when I started in 1992, but it all costs money.

Since 2008 I have been getting a lot of home school materials for free in exchange for a review of the product in my blog. I do this as part of The Schoolhouse Review Crew. You could consider doing this, too! In the meantime, keep following my blog! The Old Schoolhouse is letting me give away three of their digital products during the month of April to my readers! I will let you know soon what those products will be!

This blog post is Day 2 of Tips for Homeschoolers. I invite you to grab a fresh cuppa java and click on over to visit these other blogs that are also participating in 5 Days of Tips for Homeschoolers:


  1. This is a great intro for new homeschoolers. I especially like tips 5 and 6. I too am strong believer that home schooling becomes the number 1 priority!

    1. Sometimes it becomes impossible to schedule outside of school hours. Then you just deal with it, schooling in car or waiting room of doctor, or bumping lessons out a day on subjects where student can't complete it on the go. Each family develops its own flow.

  2. Goodness! I admire your strength of character demonstrated with these tips. We are much more relaxed but if one were new to home education, these are fantastic. A great way to start. Thanks for sharing. - Lori

    1. I used to be much more relaxed, but then moved to a state with stricter regulations. Would have loved to stay in Colorado! But I think the increased structure helped my #2 and #3 children.

  3. chalk from eggshells? I need to look that up. :) And yes i've learned this. Do school first or it doesn't happen...unless you are sick, then school sometimes doesn't happen.

    1. If I can find my recipe I'll try to get it to you. I think I remember which book it was in, but not where that book is. And I think it was actually a newspaper clipping I stuck into a craft recipe book. But you are right, you can probably find it too. Google knows everything!