How to: Start Homeschooling (Part 2)

mom and son doing schoolwork at table

Okay, if part 1 of this series could be given a subtitle, it would be Explore. Now in part 2, we’re going to Investigate. This article will discuss

  • finding local legal requirements for home schooling
  • looking at your favorite style or method more closely
  • locating and joining local and regional support groups
  • conventions and used book sales

First, let’s discuss local legal requirements. You don’t need me to tell you that this is a very important consideration in home schooling. Laws vary considerably from one area to the next, and not knowing what your local requirements are could be a problem.

In America, laws are set on a state by state basis. Some require parents to report on their progress to a teacher or other designated representative, while others have virtually no reporting requirements whatsoever. If you’re outside of America, you’ll want to check with your regional authorities.

The fastest way to get started on your investigation is to type a few words into the Google search box. I suggest using the name of your state/province/territory along with the words ‘home school’ and ‘law’. A person living in the state of California would type the words California home school law into the box. The results page shows links to descriptions of home schooling requirements in that area.

An organization that you’ll see quite often if you’re in the United States or Canada is the Home School Legal Defense Association. HSLDA was founded in 1983 and has worked hard to defend families’ right to teach children at home. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether or not to join, and I may write a post just on that topic someday. For now, we’ll move on to the next item on our list. Oh, once you’ve located the requirements for your geographic location print them out. Review and hang on to that information as we’ll look more closely at it in the next post.

Okay, next on the list is looking at your method or style of choice more closely. I’m going to be honest with you…this step can take a lot of your time. Trust me, it’s worth it. It can be very frustrating to invest hard earned dollars into books or materials and then discover they’re not what you expected, or are the wrong difficulty level.

In the last article I talked about some of the different approaches to home learning. Hopefully one on the list (or a similar choice) appealed to you enough that you’re planning to use it. Now is the time to find additional reviews of the method, along with a book or two on implementation. There are several ways to get a closer look at the materials:

  • publishers often have sample pages online
  • book sellers (Amazon or Rainbow Resource) may have sample pages
  • check with your local library (reference books are quite often available here)
  • find a family using the materials and ask for their opinion
  • the Rainbow Resource catalog you ordered (right?? you ordered it? Good!) has reviews
  • visit vendors at a homeschooling convention
  • go to used book sales

If all else fails, type the title of the book into a Google search box and look through the results for someone’s review or opinion of the program.

I mentioned local homeschooling groups in my first post, and I’m going to mention them again now. Here’s why: they can be a tremendous resource. Even if you only are in an online group and don’t take advantage of classes, field trips, or play dates, you’ve still got people who are now going or have already gone through the same things as you. They can also clue you in to local resources, conventions, book sales, opportunities, and more. So, if you haven’t already done so, go. Find one. šŸ˜€

Hey, we’re almost finished with the list! The last thing for today is conventions and used book sales (or sites). Fortunately, this will just be a quick search online and you’re done. Just type the appropriate key words such as homeschool convention or used curriculum sale or used book sale along with your state/province/territory and check the results. If you find a convention you want to attend, go ahead and mark it on your calendar and give it a whirl.

There are quite a few sites devoted to selling used books, including eBay. HSLDA has an auction on their site.

Okay, that’s it for now. You’ve got plenty of work to do. Be sure to take a few breaks to go hug your kid. Next article, we’re going to talk about Planning.

Earnest Parenting: advice for homeschooling parents.

The editor-in-chief of Earnest Parenting, Amy is the mother of two sets of twin boys. Yes, they drive her crazy, but they also make her laugh occasionally. Amy enjoys writing, quilting, reading, and working on her burgeoning cyber empire.

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