Let me assure you that it can be so much easier to start homeschooling than you might think.
First Things First
First item of business is the paper work end of things. Find out what your local requirements are, every province or state will have their own guidelines to follow. A great resource is Home School Legal Defense (HSLDA). They have an office in both Canada and the United States and are an invaluable resource for our homeschooling communities.
The Fun Begins (please remember to have fun)
Next there is the practical side of things and could easily be called “how do I start teaching at home?”. Based on my experience and the experience of many other homeschooling moms, I’d like to suggest you adjust your thoughts on the ‘teaching at home mentality’. After all we are our children’s parents, we have been teaching them since the moment they were born. From day one we have been guiding, mentoring, and mediating them. Although this will evolve through time as they mature, we are parents forever and we will always be there to support and guide our children. Yes, we are teaching them, but not in the same sense of how things are done at a school. Don’t let yourself get in the way of the natural process of learning, be sure to support your child(ren)’s natural desire to learn, encourage and challenge their inquisitive nature.
From the moment you hold your newborn baby you became their mother or father but also their ‘teacher’. Children are natural learners, seekers of information, masters of asking questions. Take that innate natural thirst for knowledge and provide it with great books, great literature, engaging discussions, real life experience, field trips, fun hands on activities, a pencil and paper, and most importantly your love and guidance and you have just lit a fire for more knowledge. The cycle will continue and they will want more and the fire will grow.
There are many methods to homeschooling, many curricula, many free resources and many different ways to schedule your days. At the end of the day…or beginning of the day, you just have to start.
How to Start
Find a great novel to read aloud and interact with your children as you read. Youngsters can draw pictures about the story, older children can narrate it back to you orally. Engage with them and pull them into what was read, encourage them to really give you an opinion and avoid the dry and typical ‘reading comprehension’ type of questions. You will be amazed where this type of interaction will lead; their minds will open and their eyes will light up! You will start to find your family’s way and you will see your children’s strengths. Sit back, let it happen and soon you will start to understand how each of them process information or how they like to learn. Once you reach this point, that is when you can start to figure out what method will work for your family or what resources will best suit each child.
Find a great novel appropriate for the entire family.
Let them draw about what is being read as you read to them.
Engage your children, encourage opinions and discussion
Break away from typical “reading comprehension” questions.
Share some of your opinions in forms of questions like: “Do you think…?”
I use a variety of resources, but our staple is great literature paired with a solid math program. Family read-a-louds and discussions have always made our days better, whether it be done at the start, middle, or end of our day. It is our comfort, our refresher, and our time to just be.
There is nothing better than to be snuggled up together reading and being so caught up in the moment that everyone forgets they are learning. The ‘fire’ for knowledge quietly builds, the family bond strengthens and the confidence grows in those moments.
These are the moments that last and give each of us our foundation.
So take a deep breath, quiet your mind, pick up that great piece of literature and just start. Start building that fire and start homeschooling.