Curriculum. It is the bane of the new homeschool parent’s existence–the decision that would seemingly affect all other decisions, and the conversation piece that dominates the earliest discussions surrounding homeschooling.
But there are other decisions that are, believe it or not, more critical than choosing curriculum, from my perspective. In fact, giving some thought to these areas first should help you in what curriculum to use, if any. I have borrowed from my own writings, here and elsewhere, primarily. But I also shared from blogs of friends and other homeschooling parents some topics that are not shared often enough. They are not as “spicy” as a curriculum review, or as picturesque as the perfect field trip. Yet, they are foundational to your homeschool’s success. Consider it my “best-of” collection regarding those efforts that will either advance your homeschool efforts or derail them.
To begin, once you’ve decided to homeschool, now what? Where do you start?
This is normally the moment when intuition says to begin to research and purchase curriculum. But reviewing these posts might help you save money, and moreover, maintain your peace of mind.
Incidentally, learning someone’s learning style takes time. It is okay to purchase curriculum that might be a misfit for your family. I suggest what to do when you determine that here.
The other intuitive move will be to reach out to other homeschoolers for company and/or counseling. This is not an inherently bad idea, but I would offer a word of caution, especially with anyone seeking compensation for their coaching/ counseling services. First, there are plenty of “near peers,” i.e., parents who have not homeschooled much longer than you, as well as veteran homeschooling families, all over the internet. They gladly offer advice through sharing their journeys via pictures, YouTube channels, blogs, and Facebook/Instagram feeds. Finding Facebook groups for home educators that require minimal verification of who you are, or following an Instagram hashtag can introduce you to people with whom you and your children might make life-long connections. If you still decide to pay for one-on-one counseling, please complete the following research on your counselor before you open your wallet:
- age of children/ homeschooling experience (is she offering experience, or is she simply offering an opinion)
- counseling/ coaching experience (being good at what you do and being able to transfer knowledge are very different skills)
- promised deliverables (are there meaningful takeaways from these counseling sessions)
- reputation/ reviews
- clear starting and jumpoff points (when must you begin payment, and is there a limit to when you stop)
As increasingly more parents explore homeschooling options, there is an equal increase in the numbers of paid services available and ready to take advantage of your naivete and your anxiety. Remember, most of all, that it is called HOMEschool. Like any change to your home, becoming teacher in addition to your many other roles, will take time and patience for all involved.
If you live in an area where face-to-face meetups are available, you might join a co-op as a way of meeting other families and perhaps giving your children an outlet in which they can find common ground. But again, exercise caution.
My thoughts right now are to run more of these types of posts during a summer when so many are making a decision to homeschool versus the options being presented in traditional school systems. I only want to share if it’s helpful, however, so feel free to comment or to write offline with constructive feedback or questions. Also, feel free to share this post with someone who is in the position of possibly having to homeschool after years in the traditional school system. In the meantime, read, enjoy, and be blessed in your decisions.