What if I'm thinking about homeschooling? The Basics

On more than one occasion, I have had friends and acquaintances ask me for advice or information to begin their homeschool journey. I thought since I have a blog now, a permanent page for this information would be useful. So that it won't be overwhelming (I've done this to people), I will do it in parts. Here are what I consider "The Basics".

Step 1: Hit the Library:

A friend suggested checking out what the library had in stock (I have a bunch of librarian friends). I checked out about half of the books they had (35 to be exact as I maxed out my library card). Out of those 35, I read about 14 of them cover to cover. It put me in a panic, a huge panic. I skimmed through the other 19 and realized that I didn't need THOSE kinds of books yet. I needed these kinds:

The first book you should read about homeschooling:

So You're Thinking about Homeschooling by Lisa Whelchel

Lisa's book (yes, she was on Facts of Life tv show) is written in such a way that you felt like you were visiting neighbors and chatting at the kitchen table. It represents an overview of many of the most popular styles being used to homeschool kids today and most importantly, it's an overview. It's not an in-depth treatise on educational styles and how you are completely inadequate to figure them out. It's also short enough that you can read it in a couple hours. I even convinced Mark to read it!

The next books I found useful were:
Homeschooling Methods edited by Paul Suarez and the Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. Neither of these are a light read, but they were great books to skim and learn more about the techniques we would be using in the future. I have since read them from cover to cover.

Step 2: Hit the Web about Your State Guidelines:

Before you stop putting the kids on the bus, you need to make sure you're not going to get arrested for truancy. Each state has it's own regulations and requirements for home education. The Home School Legal Defense Association is a great site to find that out. Down the right side is a link that says "My State." There are volumes of information on this site for every state, find the link that says "Laws" and figure them out. There are also horror stories for every state. Please DON'T read these. I read these and convinced myself that I couldn't possibly pull the kids out in the middle of the year...I wish every week at some point that I had pulled them out. Even a full year later!

I also googled "Kentucky" and "Homeschool Laws". I found these great sites for Kentucky. I'm sure there are equivalents for each state.


These were great resources, especially the second one. It was written by a Christian Homeschooling group but commissioned by the state. We are lucky in Kentucky. We have to maintain records, notify the school district and currently, that's about it. Some states are very strict and require testing and lots of hoops, some have no real requirements. Make sure that you know the laws.

Step 3: Check out these web-sites:

There are thousands of blogs, web-sites, pages, groups and forums. You can spend every waking moment reading about homeschooling. It's exhausting, overwhelming and over-stimulating. Here are the ones I would start with. While they have volumes of information, it's put forth in a positive way; a little "you can do this" cheerleading helps in the beginning.

This site is filled with resources. They have dozens if not hundreds of podcasts. 

I love Yahoo Groups. You have to create a yahoo account. Go to the site above and in the search box put in your state and "homeschool". I have found about 9 different local or somewhat local groups. It's great because I can find people who live close and homeschool or who are new to homeschooling or who are using the same curriculum as I am. I have also read groups on curriculums that I am considering buying either to rule them out or decide on them. I've met some wonderful families through my yahoo groups!

Step 4: Be Blatantly Honest with Yourself and Your Spouse and Your Kids

Have a family meeting and discuss what you've discovered, what you're going to expect from everyone in the house, and whether it's feasible. If you're going to expect your spouse to teach math and he didn't pass Pre-Algebra in high school, you're going to need a really good curriculum with some teaching dvd's or something. Look at your time commitment and your stress level, homeschooling is going to take a lot of time and generate additional stress, even if everything goes perfectly.

This is a good place to stop, I'm sure I'll edit this post before it's finalized and I know there will be more posts Homeschooling 102 maybe ^_^

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