Deciding & Planning to Homeschool

  1. Planning on Homeschooling

As you research and shop for curricula and and think about your school-year schedule, make sure that your decisions and choices are in compliance with the homeschooling laws and regulations for your state.

  • In the US and Canada, each state or province regulates homeschooling in its own way. Some states are more homeschool-friendly than others. When thinking about homeschooling, it’s important for you to know the laws and regulations of your state. Do you need to contact your local school system? Do your children have to take standardized tests? What kind of end-of-year records do you need to submit?

  • A simple way to find out this information is to visit the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) website. This is an organization that has been advocating for homeschoolers for the past four decades. HSLDA has compiled the laws for every state and you can find summaries and details of those laws on their website. Once you know the regulations you need to follow, making the decision to homeschool may seem more achievable.

  • Accredited books and curricula: homeschool curricula cannot be accredited but can be used by an accredited organization or program.

If you make the decision to homeschool a child who is already attending public school, you don’t need to wait for the school year’s end to begin your homeschooling program.

  • You will want to start by officially withdrawing your child from their school. State requirements vary regarding the withdrawal process. It’s important to familiarize yourself with your state’s regulations and make sure you comply with them.

  • When you withdraw your child from an educational setting especially after the school year has started, it’s important to give you and your child a chance to “de-school,” and take the time to work together to establish new routines and reconnect with your child’s interests and passions, maybe even take a break from formal academics. Plan field trips, read-alouds, unstructured free play, or time in nature. Use this season to observe your child, get to know their strengths and challenges, so you can identify strategies for helping them learn in a way that’s meaningful and that will help them thrive in their new environment.

  • Homeschooling is not a permanent choice. Families can make the decision to homeschool or go to a traditional school on a yearly basis. Homeschooling might be the answer to your family’s circumstances right now. You can change your mind.

Homeschooling can be a lonely endeavor for both you and your children. Finding families and friends who homeschool can be challenging but it is an integral part of your support system. Also consider that not everyone in your support system needs to be a homeschooler. So take the time to find a community to become involved in and other parents and families that encourage each other and share interests. Here are a few ways to make connections.

  • Visit your state’s homeschool organization page. These are private organizations run by veteran and current homeschoolers. Often you’ll find information on activities (like conventions, graduation events, field trips), co-ops, classes, and more. Advice from parents who’ve navigated the laws of your state is invaluable. Click HERE for a link to the current state organizations.

  • Check out a homeschool convention in your area. Usually homeschool conventions happen once or twice a year, usually between March and June. At conventions you’ll find speakers on almost every homeschool topic, from how to teach different subjects to balancing instruction for multiple children. Conventions also often have a Vendor Hall, where you can look at curriculum from top homeschool and education publishers. Click HERE for a link to current homeschool conventions.

  • Visit the library or playground when traditional schools are in session. If you meet school-aged children and parents there, they are probably a homeschool family.

  • Check with museums, state parks, theaters, nature organizations for special homeschool programs. These can be great places to meet other homeschool families.

  • Search social media for local homeschool events, field trips, and activities. Call churches in your area and ask if they have a support group for moms or parents or if any members are homeschoolers.

  • Leadership and vocational organizations like 4H and National FFA Organization, Scouts, and others give homeschool children opportunities to connect with other young people with similar interests.

  • The Homeschool Compass website offers support for your homeschool journey with how-to articles, encouragement, printables, booklists and reading lists, curricula suggestions and more.

There are many ways to educate your child, from unschooling to Classical, from Charlotte Mason to a traditional school format. You don’t need to choose a specific homeschool style in order to homeschool effectively, but knowing which style you gravitate toward will help you narrow down which resources and curricula will be a good fit for your family and what types of co-ops, activities, and support groups to consider. Also, remember that what works when your kids are in elementary school may not work when they are in middle school or high school. Allow yourself to be flexible. Lots of homeschoolers are eclectic, drawing from a few different styles, maybe even changing depending on the subject (math = traditional, science = Charlotte Mason), or the age of their child.

  • Research different ways to homeschool. There are many resources online written by proponents of every style that explain how each style works. Christianbook carries titles written by experienced homeschoolers that can help you with this decision. Click HERE to see some of those titles.

  • The Homeschool Compass website has a helpful and interactive Homeschool Style Quiz. These questions will help you think about how you want to homeschool and what’s important to you. Click HERE to take the Quiz and get a general idea of where your interests and priorities lie.

  • Create a comfortable learning environment for your kids. For some families, this is a reason to declutter and simplify their space. For other families, it means everyone gets a desk. And for others, maybe it’s floor pillows and bean bag chairs!

Auditory. Kinesthetic. Visual. Interpersonal. Logical. You’ve heard the terms that label children with specific learning styles. Now that you’re homeschooling, you can find the method that works best for your child, rather than settling for one-size-fits-some educational methodology.

  • Observe your child and how they experience “lightbulb” moments, when understanding clicks and facts start to stick. How that happens could be clues into how your child learns best.

  • Research different learning styles and the educational strategies and techniques that support it. Christianbook’s Homeschool Helps page has a number of books on Learning Styles.

A typical school year includes 180 days of instruction or a certain number of hours but be sure to check your state’s homeschool regulations for this information. You can break up these days however you wish. Some homeschoolers use a traditional school-year calendar, while other homeschoolers school year-round on a more relaxed schedule. Think about what works best for your family that keeps you in compliance with your state’s regulations. Also consider any special events that your family is expecting to happen, that you may want to schedule around.

You can find so much information about homeschool curricula and programs online that it can be overwhelming. If you visit Christianbook’s Homeschool webpage, you’ll find a lot of the same titles that you’ll be reading about during your research. We also have Homeschool Curriculum Advisors on staff and to answer your questions about any of the homeschool products we carry. We go the extra mile to help, whether it’s looking at the product in our warehouse or contacting the publisher to get an answer. Homeschool Curriculum Advisors are available any time our phones are open, as well as by email. If you email, be sure to include the subject and grade level that you’re interested in as well as the names of any specific products, if you’ve got some in mind. Our website is the most exhaustive source of the homeschool product we sell. But if you prefer to flip actual pages, our Homeschool Catalog is jam-packed with all the best-selling curricula and resources to make any homeschooler happy. Questions to ask yourself as you shop for curricula:

  • Does this curriculum fit with my family’s values? Will it help us reach our long-term goals? What worldview is it written from? Does this program mesh with my overall homeschool philosophy?

  • Is it parent-teacher friendly? Does the layout appeal to me as an instructor? Will it fit the learning style, personality, or special needs of my student?

  • Does this program fit our budget? Will I be able to use this for more than one child? Do I need to buy extra books or materials?

  • How much time will this curriculum take? Will this be a good fit for my family’s schedule?

  • How much prep work will it require of me as the parent? Will this curriculum work well for the season of life we are in?

Contact Information for Christianbook's Homeschool Curriculum Advisors and Homeschool Catalog:

  • Christianbook's Homeschool Curriculum Advisor phone number: 1-800-788-1221

  • Click HERE to send an email to Christianbook's Homeschool Curriculum Advisors.

  • Click HERE to request that a Christianbook Homeschool Catalog be mailed to you.

  • Click HERE to view an online version of the Christianbook Homeschool Catalog.

As with anything important, it’s essential to stay organized and keep detailed records of what you do. There are many educational planners available that help you keep track of subjects; assignment, quiz, and test grades; field trips; and more. Click HERE if you’d like to check out the selection at Christianbook. These records are especially helpful if you live in a state that requires end-of-year reports. In high school, transcripts are critical for college applications or for resume-building if your student plans to enter the workforce after high school.

  • Christianbook’s free Homeschool Planner is a printable resource with a calendar, weekly scheduling grids, report cards, reading logs, and other forms that help you keep track of essential information. It’s a great way to start your record-keeping system, especially if you’re not sure of what type of planner would best suit your needs.
  • Homeschool Planet is a renewable, subscription-based 13-month online planner that’s easy to learn and launch and full of helpful features like customizable grading, report card and transcript functions, ability to schedule and reschedule recurring and one-time-only assignments easily, and plug-in lesson plans for many popular curricula.

  • Grades: keep track of your child’s grades on assignments, quizzes, and tests throughout the year. It’s easier to find that midterm and final average if you record it right away, rather than trying to hunt down all the quizzes and tests months later to get average grades. Keep a record of the assignments that have been completed and the books that have been read.

  • Transcripts: a high school transcript is a certified one-page document that records a student’s high school academic work. Colleges require transcripts during the application process, but even if your child is not going to college, it is a good idea to complete a high school transcript, in the event it’s needed for other purposes, like job applications, job promotions, or enlisting in a branch of the military. There are many resources and templates for high school transcripts. If this feels overwhelming, there are 3rd-party transcript services available, and HSLDA also offers transcript preparation.

  • “After school” activities, hobbies, volunteer work, internships, employment, presentations, awards, athletics, involvement in art and music: it’s amazing how easy it is to forget the different day-to-day activities that your children participate in and the achievements that they earn. Keep a family diary of these details. You might be surprised to see how many accomplishments can become points on a transcript or application that reflect leadership, teamwork, skills, competencies, and evidence of reliability.

You and your high schooler will need to look for high school homeschool curricula that explain how to earn high school credits using the course and the number of credits that may be earned. Graduation requirements often include world language and lab-science courses, so keep those in mind when considering course workload.

A high school transcript will be essential to maintain all four years, so that your teenager has an official document showing the courses taken, and grades and credits earned. There are many resources and templates for high school transcripts, and there are 3rd-party transcript services available, such as HSLDA, which offers transcript preparation.

Collecting a comprehensive portfolio of work ((essays, lab reports, presentations, involvement in art and music, awards) as well as keeping track of “after school” activities, such as hobbies, volunteer work, internships, employment, and athletics is also a practical idea. You might be surprised to see how many accomplishments can become points on a transcript or application that reflect leadership, teamwork, skills, competencies, and evidence of reliability.

If your homeschooled teenager is college-bound, help them prepare for the college application and acceptance process and the rigors of college and university academics:

You may feel insecure in this area as you start down the homeschooling road, but the truth is many homeschool families have navigated this territory before you. In fact, homeschoolers are accepted and even sought out by some of the country’s finest universities because of the unique strengths they’ve gained through homeschooling. A strong academic foundation, creative problem solving, independent thinking skills, and emotional maturity are just a few of the assets college admissions officers frequently ascribe to homeschoolers.

An important step is to sign up for PSAT, SAT, and ACT tests during your student’s sophomore, junior, and senior years.

If your homeschooled teenager is career-bound, help them prepare for the workforce so they can begin a vocation after high school:

Employers can appreciate that most homeschooled students know how to develop inter-generational relationships, which is what we do as adults. In the workplace, in our neighborhoods, at church, and in our hobbies and clubs, not everyone is our age. As a homeschooler, your teenager has more opportunities to connect with the real world than students who are in school for six to eight hours a day, only associating with kids their own age. Grocery shopping during the day when the store employees are adults, visits to community homes, spending the day with older and younger siblings, social time with other homeschool families, and volunteer opportunities are just a few of the ways that homeschool kids can practice compassion, conflict resolution, and communication skills. Add creative problem solving, independent thinking skills, and emotional maturity and your child becomes an employee that a business will value.

Encourage your teenager to seek out internship opportunities in the field they are interested in. Months of day-to-day experiences in a job, especially at entry-level, will give your teen the real deal of what working in a particular career really means. This also provides the opportunity for networking with professionals, which may even lead to employment after high school.

For more details on preparing your homeschooled teenager for college and career, click HERE.

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