Homeschooling

12 Things To Help You Start Your Homeschool Journey

So your thinking of Homeschooling? Or took the plunge and don’t know where to start…. Well, I was there and know exactly how you feel. Nervous, confused, lost, overwhelmed. Don’t know where to begin…. Yes, I have felt all those emotions and more…. Fortunately for me the Lord saw me through, so I can pass on the knowledge to you. Hurray! No need to worry! I am going to share with you the basics of how I started and what I’ve learned thus far. Giving you as much detail as I can to help you pick and choose where to begin on this amazing journey you are about to embark. I suggest you take your time to go over this post, as it is pretty long.
Ideas from me to spark ideas of your own.
When I began researching and trying to figure out where to start homeschooling my children such as: what curriculum, supplies, organization, schedule, etc.. I watched YouTube videos, read blogs, bought a digital book written by another homeschooler. But still did not have enough to get me off to a beginning… a foundation where to begin.
I still felt confused. What I needed was a blueprint.
A layout of what homeschooling is like exactly for someone else to give me a general idea where to start. Ideas to suit my own personality, work ethic and what I desired for my children since I knew them best. I kept running into people saying, “homeschooling is different for everyone,” “check into your state requirements.”… All very vague (yet good) advice. I felt, did not help, enough. Enough to jump start ideas. Enough for bare minimum into this homeschooling journey. I will forewarn you… it may not always be fun. There is a lot of planning and goal setting, even if you plan to teach like a free spirit. Even that type of teaching require some planning and goals. You will also need dedication to finish successfully. This is for the better of your child/ children,  to direct them in the way that you want them to go. Even though it may be scary for you at first, just know its gonna be okay, as long as you have the Lord guide you. It’s not about you its about your child and the best you can give to them to mold them into the young man or woman they should be. To make sure they are well equipped for the individual journey into life.  Below I will be going over a check list of things to do, again you do not need to follow everything exactly.
Think of my advice as an A La Carte type list.
You pick and choose what suits you, or use this to come up with your own ideas based off mine. Whatever you want. Cause, yes, it’s true homeschooling for each family is different. What works for some might not work for others. You need to decide which suits you and your family. I will attach a PDF link for the same checklist below so you can print it out. If you are like me, lists help me to stay ordered and not forget where I need to be or where I am at. I’ll also include a few helpful free printable’s to get you off on the right foot. The Lord has blessed me in leading me, and as I keep going I keep learning. With perseverance in mind. Click Here for:  12 Things To Do Before You Start Homeschooling Checklist
Always remember… every week, month, and year is a learning curve. Trial and error is of necessity.
I say this because in order to come to a successful homeschool that is fitting for you and your children, you need to figure out what works and does not work out for you. This is important too. Nothing is perfect. You will make errors. But that’s great! Cause then you’ve sifted out the bad to get you to the good. A great rule of thumb is to finish. Finish whatever you start. Some things may seem like they don’t make sense at first but if you continue, you may find it works out… it may not, but at least you know. Without further adieu, lets begin…!

Planning For Your Homeschool Journey

(A La Carte)

1. Check for your state’s homeschooling laws and requirements.  (Yes, this is important)
HSLDA (Home School Legal Deffense Association) has a great way to figure this out. Click here to find out your state homeschooling laws. (They also have these laws for territories and DC area’s.) This is a must. 

“Homeschooling is legal throughout the United States. Each state is free to create its own legal structure for home education, so one state’s homeschooling laws may look very different from another’s.”  

(taken from HSLDA’s website)

Here in California we have the option to either enroll in a homeschool charter school, self led or satellite/ online courses; or file a private school affidavit, and teach independently. This school year of 2018-2019 I have chosen to file for a private school affidavit with my states board of education. If you are a Californian you can file for this form by clicking here. The statutory filing period is October 1st to the 15th of every year, but the online filing remains open October 1st to July 31st each year. This form is required by CA to file if you plan not to enroll in a homeschool charter/ satellite program *If you live in another country try to find out these laws and requirements through your local government’s website.
2. Figure out if you want to homeschool Independently, with a Charter School, or a Satellite School. What’s the difference?

Independent Homeschooling   Parents assume full responsibility for their children’s education. This includes not only financial responsibility, but total responsibility to create an educational journey specifically tailored to their child.

Public Charter School This is where you enroll your child in a publicly funded school who will assign you a Credentialed Teacher who will basically monitor your work, asking for work samples, attendance, and any other requirements depending on your state. You will receive funds per child to use for curriculum, materials, and extracurricular activities. And you are in charge of your child’s education. May be subjected to state testing requirements. Vaccinations may only be required if using the Charter’s facilities to take group classes provided by them and not an outside vendor.

Satellite Programs- These are online schools that assign your child to a teacher in an online classroom. With assignments, lessons, and tests given by his/her teacher. School usually provides computers and curriculum. May be subjected to state testing and vaccination requirements may be a possibility as well depending on your state.

3. If your new to Homeschooling, try to give yourself 2 to 3 months for researching curriculum, and to plan your school year out.
During this time you will need to find out state laws and requirements for you to prepare for. Research the desired curriculum. Type or write out the school year should you do so, etc. Don’t wear yourself thin, if you have the time to do so, I would highly recommend. Otherwise, if time is out of your control at this point no worries, I began homeschool planning my first year only giving myself about a month, but due to that timing I worked hard and did lots of research. I’m still learning…. (sigh)
4. Be prepared to prepare and keep records
There are a few things you may want to keep record of, just in case. No matter what state you live in, in case you find yourself questioned about what your doing to educate your child/children, you’ll be prepared.  Such as attendance, and at least 2 to 3 years of work, and or pictures of your child working or on field trips. Click here to see HSLDA’s great post regarding these as ideas. I use an attendance sheet I created that you can print for free to get you started in the link below: Attendance Sheet For these sheets I have Weekly, Monthly & Yearly sheets. In brief, below is a short explanation of each attendance sheet. Weekly: You are able to use for multiple children if desired and you’ll be able to enter in the, “week of” dates. Monthly: Here you will only be able to use for one child. You’ll need to write in the days (in #) on this sheet. Yearly: This one I think makes it super easy, you have the entire school year on one sheet. On this sheet you will use for one child. The date’s numbers are written for you. But I would suggest writing in the Holidays and planned vacations ahead of time. It makes it easier. Use whichever you’d like. I hope this helps…!
5. Pen out your homeschool year with: first day of school, last day of school, holidays, vacations, field trips, special holidays, co-op’s, crafts, projects, etc….
Simply use a monthly planner or calendar for this. It needs not to get expensive. It’s as simple as going to the dollar store and buying a calendar and penning in those particular days, set apart from dedicated work days. Or you can even use your phone’s calendar as well. Doing this allows you time to plan for your curriculum and gives you an idea of what to expect. But is not required. If you don’t desire to do so.
6. Using a Daily/Monthly Lesson Planner for your children/child helps tremendously.

(whispering) I have included my free lesson planner printable for a boy or girl… shhh… tell everyone!

While I have a lesson planner for my children. I do not have one for myself. (That’s just me.) Only because I usually go by their schedule and schoolwork. I’ve purchased planners for myself with the intent to use for myself and end up not using it. So I’ve stuck to lesson planners solely for my children alone. That may not ring true for you. So in that area you can decide whether or not you want use a planner for yourself or not. When planning out your student/s lesson planner/s, give yourself some time. I’ve got four children I have to plan for… so it takes some time. If I’m diligent I can finish the five months for each of my four children in a week. But if I’m honest, it really takes a month… That’s due to distractions and tiredness. Life happens guys… life happens. I use a lesson planner that I made on my own. You can find this free printable lesson planner by clicking the link here, to a post regarding how I use this planner for my children. Or you can simply click below for the PDF file for this free printable! 2019-2020 Girl Lesson Planner 2019-2020 Boy Lesson Planner You can easily click on the pdf file above and add text. Such as your child’s name and the work subjects the week of and assignments. It’s easy! All you have to do when you click on the pdf file and a little pop up window comes up in the top right hand corner, click on “Open in Acrobat Reader” and once the new window opens in acrobat reader with the file on the right hand side there is a option to “Fill & Sign”, click on that and start adding you own text. With these planners I would suggest not stressing out about writing out the entire year.
Use your time wisely… I do this during school breaks.
Summer break and Christmas break
This is how I do it… around July or so, about the kids summer break, I write out 5 months of the year which will be about September to the end of December. And once Christmas break comes along I plan to sit down and write out the rest of the school year. That’s how I did it and it worked out way better that way.
7. Find out what your child’s learning style is…
There are 3 main learning styles. You have your Visual Learner, Kinesthetic Learner, and Auditory Learner. Here’s a brief explanation for each type of learner: Visual Learner: this learning style utilizes graphs, charts, maps and diagrams, or videos. Kinesthetic Learner: this learning style takes place by carrying out physical activities, or using manipulative’s (ie. blocks, poms, beans, or any object for learning). Basically using objects and movement to help aid in learning. Auditory Learner: this learning style takes place by hearing and speaking mainly in order to aid in learning. Not one person is alike… therefore, what works for one will not necessarily work for another, hence the different learning styles we all have. Now, each person is not only one type of learner, we can be multiple types, maybe one more than the other. But we all have at least one type. Understanding this for your child helps them better retain information. Finding out the learning style of your child before you start planning curriculum can reduce frustration during learning. You wouldn’t want to purchase a literature based curriculum such as Moving Beyond the Page, which has lots of books to read; and use this curriculum for a kinesthetic learner. I mean you could but you may have lots of struggles, you might not, again trial and error….
8. Research what type of schooling you prefer. 
Here’s a list of the top 8 types of homeschooling styles:
    • 1 Eclectic
    • 2 School-at-Home
    • 3 Unschooling
    • 4 Classical
    • 5 Charlotte Mason
    • 6 Waldorf
    • 7 Montessori
  • 8 Multiple Intelligence’s
Click here for the link to information regarding what each of these styles are, so you can figure out your style. It’s not super vital, but it may aid in understanding where you need to be, and what curriculum you want for your kiddos.
9. Research Curriculum
Personally, I love A Beka. Especially, their math curriculum. My children have gone in and out of public schools (unfortunately) due to certain circumstances. One year, I was able to see how my children being homeschooled, using A Beka one year and returning to a public school another year, allowed me to see how A Beka is advanced. They came back mentioning how the stuff they were learning in class is something they had already learned the prior school year when I homeschooled them. So that told me to stick with A Beka math especially. A Beka’s reading program or book called, “Handbook for Reading”, is another awesome resource. Using this book with my middle child during his 1st grade year did him wonders learning how to read. With prefixes, suffixes, blends, sight words, and generally forming words through sounding them out on his own. And I’d have to say he is a better reader because of it. You can buy books individually, or in student grade kits. They also have teacher kits and lesson planners for all subjects. Except, I will mention, buying these directly from their website can get pricey. And for any other curriculum at that.
Here is what I recommend… buy used, as much as you can.

Buuuut… here’s another thing… trying to find consumables are not as easy as I’d wish it were.

What are consumables?

Consumables are  books, notebooks, workbooks, etc. basically anything that can be written in and used by your student. Non-Consumables are textbooks, answer keys, readers aka reading books, and teacher manuals. These can be easier to find used and in good condition. I will be adding another post about how to save money on textbooks where to search and so on. In brief I will list some websites I use to search for new and used curriculum. They are as follows:  – here you can set up your free account to contact other homeschoolers. This site is simple, you contact other homeschoolers at your own risk by email. So sending payments to another person via PayPal to ensure your not sending money to a fraudulent person is important. Paying via PayPal ensures your funds are safe in case you unfortunately stumble upon such a person. ebay.com here you’ll need to know what curriculum you are interested in in order to find what your looking for unless you want to type in a general search for homeschool text books. facebook homeschool groups- find groups that have other homeschoolers who sell their curriculum So… here’s what I do, if I can’t find a used A Beka workbook, I buy that one directly from A Beka as my last resort. Or for you wherever you decide for curriculum. Now, not all homeschoolers use textbooks. Some teach solely online. There is one online curriculum I liked but only as a supplement: Time4learning.com To use this you must pay for membership. Or your charter school may have them as a vendor and the school funds can be used towards this membership. There is also: Teaching Textbooks your child can take a placement test to see where he/ she needs to be Monarch Online Curriculum you can pay for a monthly or yearly subscription to have your child use a full online curriculum that you can tailor to them individually. This program also allows you to make progress reports, lesson plans and so much more! There is so many other online curriculum… just google it! (thumbs up) Oh! A Beka offers an online academy too. (its a bit pricey though) Here are a few curriculum’s you can take a look into: And sooo many more its awesome, but can become overwhelming all at the same time. But not to worry, you got this!
Hang in there… We’re gonna get through this… nearly done.
10. Make a daily schedule
Again, this is optional, and only suggested if schedules are your thing, or having a general idea of what to expect in your day even though you don’t follow to a T. That’s what I do…. Here’s what I did for our schedule. I started to use this “bell schedule” because for my children (the four I school) need structure and to have an understanding of whats expected. Therefore, structure comes in the form of a “bell schedule”. This may not be for others. But it works for us! Using my phone in my calendar I create a “bell schedule”. Each day Mon. thru Fri. I add an event that has a title and alarm that will go off weekly to a set time till a duration date. It looks something like this: Mon. 7:30am Wake Kids Up (alarm sounds) 8:00am Bible Study (alarm sounds) 9:00am Start Work (alarm sounds) 12:00pm Lunch (alarm sounds) 12:30pm Continue Work (alarm sounds) (if incomplete) By this time my children sometimes (emphasis on sometimes) have their work finished if they work diligently.  1:45 to 2:00pm Finish Work 3:00pm Start Chores This is essentially a general view of what it would look like on a schedule. I do not follow this to a T. As that is the blessing of homeschooling you can make a schedule and then throw it all out the window, due to it not work at all or just not fit into what you have planned for the day, week or month.
Remember! Homeschooling is a chameleon, it changes according to its environment, circumstance, or for any moment at that. It’s wonderful!
11. Write Down Goals…
Doing this helps and reminds you later to remember personal goals when you began homeschooling, this is something more veered as a personal aid in helping you to keep your eyes on certain things you may have forgot or gotten distracted from throughout the year. Once again, not necessary but can definitely help you out in different ways. You can write these ideas on post it notes and keep them in a personal folder or calendar, planner, or memo board. So its a constant reminder….
12. Make a plan for your homeschooling work spaces
If you have a small space keep it simple. You can still plan out your work space areas. In fact its better to plan out your spaces especially for small spaces. Check out pinterest or youtube for other bloggers/ vloggers ideas on planning out small spaces. Here at my house we do not have our own separate room for homeschooling, so we work on the dining room table or my two older children have desks in their own rooms, so they work there. And my two younger boys work with me at the dining table. Or occasionally we work outside at the patio table. Again, that’s the beauty of homeschooling.  But planning out your work area helps a lot. Even if it means containers or shelves to hold your supplies and books, despite being limited to using your dining room table or bed or whatever. There you have it! I hope all this helps you jump start inspiration, planning, interest, or revive your desire to homeschool. There is so much more that you can do, this is a good start. May the Lord bless you on your homeschooling journey and I wish you happy trails through every year that you homeschool!

Blessings!

-Angelina

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