Transitions can be difficult, whether you are moving across the country, or starting out homeschooling for the first time. Here are a few steps you can take to get started.
First, set aside time and space for your home school.
Make a reasonable estimate as to how much time it will take for each of your curricular goals. Set aside enough time for math, phonics, science—any subject required by your state law and any others that fit your family’s values.
Remember to work in break times. In addition to setting aside a morning segment and afternoon study time, it helps to alternate between textbook time and more active learning through music, art, or educational play.
Assign designated study areas free from distractions to focus on school. While it is possible to do school anywhere and dressed how you like, a routine that includes getting ready for the day and studying in a chosen area can help you reset.
Designated school areas do not have to be super fancy. They can be as simple as the kitchen table or a desk in your child’s room. More elaborate school rooms decorated with charts and globes can be fun, but going overboard can create distractions in the area set aside to be calm and focused.
Wherever your school space is, keep all the supplies you need close at hand. Pick a shelf for schoolbooks, and a cabinet with pencils, glue sticks, scissors, and a stapler. A small bin of crafting supplies can also be helpful. When school is in session, the last thing you need is to lose momentum to a hunt for a ruler or pencil sharpener.
After your curriculum is selected, and your home, heart, and schedule are prepared, it is time to look for community assets.
Local homeschool groups can help provide structure, connect you to other homeschool families, or point you in the direction of local resources, from P.E. groups to testing sites, field trips to curriculum swaps. They also provide great opportunities for social connections for your children.
Whether you sign up and commit to a semester or a year, just attending an informational meeting may create the perfect opportunity to meet other homeschool parents.
Homeschool groups are not the only source of social interaction. Informal connections, both fellow homeschoolers and other like-minded friends, can be found at local church groups. Programs like AWANA, Trail Life, or Roots, to name a few, usually meet on weeknights and will not detract from your regular school routine. Non-religious options include scouts, YMCA sports, Jack and Jill clubs, Big Brothers and Big Sisters clubs, and volunteer opportunities.
Local libraries and museums often offer educational programs in addition to their general membership. Signing up for email lists, following them on social media, or asking around when you visit them can lead to a treasure chest of opportunities in your area.
Reach out to the local police department and fire station and ask about setting up a homeschool tour and presentation. To connect with homeschool families, advertise on social media, or post fliers at local churches to spread the word. Sometimes in addition to finding what is available, it is helpful to self-generate education and socialization opportunities.
Don’t limit your search to educational institutions—sometimes a local farm, factory, or business will provide homeschool tours. Tap into your children’s interests and ask local businesses if they would let your high school student shadow an employee for a day.
Whether you have a strong community around you, or whether you are struggling to find connections, social media is another place to get plugged in. A broader search for homeschool groups can connect you with seasoned homeschool families that can help you address issues you encounter or encourage you in your journey.
A specific search for help with a topic such as “homeschool math” or “homeschool music” will help locate groups that specialize areas of study. Many curriculums also have pages or groups designated to share information or connect people who use the same curriculum.
Getting settled into a routine can be overwhelming, whether you’re wanting a fresh start in a familiar place or finding your place somewhere new. While the host of possibilities is exciting—and ever expanding—don’t overcommit. Lay out all your possibilities, and then prayerfully select which ones are the best fit for your family.
Whether you are a new to homeschooling, or needing to reset, I hope you’ll find inspiration in these tips that have helped smooth many transitions for my family.