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Pre-Trip Planning Checklist

Or: (I feel overwhelmed! Where do I begin?)

Good planning is the key to any successful road trip; this checklist will give you a basic overview as you prepare for this homeschool journey!

Check back often as we’ll be adding more resources and articles to equip and encourage you.

Research Homeschooling

  • Read all you can about home education (see list of suggested resources)
  • Consider subscribing to homeschooling publications.
  • Attend a state convention (or obtain tapes from the workshops, if this is a mid-year decision).
  • Read, read, read.
  • Attend a how-to-get-started seminar in your area, if available.
  • Check out home education web sites on the Internet (see resource list for a starting point).
  • Attend a local support group meeting and ask lots of questions-other parents often love to talk about home schooling! Most importantly, talk to other homeschoolers to find out what they do, how and why.
  • If your child is transitioning from a conventional school, read "Starting Mid-Year" (even if it’s not mid-year, the concepts are the same).
  • Attend a how-to-get-started seminar in your area. or view HSLDA’s Exploring Homeschooling online symposium.
  • And read, read, read!

Research Your State’s Homeschool Law

It is legal to homeschool! Basically, you should:

  • Familiarize yourself with the statutes of your state code which regulate home education, if applicable.
  • Be aware of any deadlines you must meet.
  • Keep copies of any paperwork you send, and it’s a good idea to mail everything certified, return-receipt requested. Be sure that any paperwork you submit is free of spelling or grammatical errors (and coffee stains!). If you hand deliver, take a receipt to be signed (“I have received Mrs. ___’s homeschool paperwork.”)

Join Support Organizations

You don’t have to make this trip alone! Consider membership in any of the national, state, and local organizations that exist to help you. Some suggestions include:

Set Goals

Why are you homeschooling? What is your idea of an education? What would you be doing if nobody told you that your 5-year-old had to leave home?

  • Determine where your child is academically, spiritually, physically, emotionally and socially ready; this is your starting point.
  • Set measurable, attainable goals for each child. Discuss with your spouse (and your child, if appropriate) how these objectives fit into the “big picture” of his future.
  • Set personal and family goals.
  • Evaluate activities and curriculum against goals.

Choose Curriculum

By definition, your curriculum is your “course of study”—your road map on this journey!

  • Look through catalogs, magazines, curriculum guides, and books.
  • Talk to other homeschoolers about what worked for them and why, as well as what didn’t work and why.
  • Attend state convention workshops and exhibit halls, as well as local curriculum fairs.
  • Go to used book sales and used curriculum shops.
  • Evaluate your child’s learning styles.
  • Decide which methods seem to fit your family best at this point in time (you may overlap—methods are not mutually exclusive!).
  • Keep evaluating all your choices against those goals you have set for your family and for each child.

Purchase Supplies

  • Homeschool resource books
  • Basic home reference materials
  • Filing or organizational supplies to keep your paperwork in order
  • Bookshelves and/or storage cabinets—designate “a place for everything”
  • Other necessary items as specified in your curriculum
  • School supplies such as paper, pencils, pencil sharpener, rulers, pens, notebooks of some sort, and the proverbial red pen! (Need some help keeping track of school supplies?)

Establish a Schedule

  • Decide on your school year, keeping in mind any legal requirements in your state. For example, we homeschool for eight weeks on, one week off, August through June, taking a four-week break in December and again in July. My reasoning is that I can do anything for eight weeks at a time, and then I have a week to regroup for the next session! Taking only one month off in summer keeps the girls on their toes academically.
  • Have at least a framework for academic and character progress during the year.
  • Have a family chore schedule in place, or a plan to keep the house manageable.
  • Write out daily/weekly plans so you know that your expectations are realistic!
  • Consider starting each day with a short family devotional time.

“ED’ U CATE, v.t. [L. educo, educare; e and duco, to lead; It. Educare: Sp. Educar] To bring up, as a child; to instruct; to inform and enlighten the understanding; to instill into the mind principles of arts, science, morals, religion and behavior. To educate children well is one of the most important duties of parents and guardians.

ED U CA’ TION, n. [[L. educatio] The bringing up, as of a child; instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts, and science is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.”

(Noah Webster in
First Edition of an American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828)

“And these words which I am commanding you today shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”

(Deuteronomy 6:6-7, NASB)

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