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Home School 101

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How to Get Started

If you are considering home schooling your children and do not know where to start, I suggest the following steps (these are pretty much what I did when I first started out):

1) Pray

It cannot be overstated -- home schooling requires a commitment to teaching your children and I believe that you must receive a call from the Lord to do so. Most home schooling parents will tell you that they feel 'compelled' or 'lead' to school their children at home. I think knowing you are called to home school helps keep the fears and frustration to a minimum (there will always be some doubting and frustration).

2) Research

Contact your local county or state education supervisor and find out what the requirements are for schooling in your state. Every state is different so find out what you must do and then file the appropriate paper work and know your legal rights. Join the Home School Legal Defense Fund, which offers free legal representation incase you get called into court to defend your home schooling.

3) Choose your method

Decide how you want to teach your children. There are many methods of home schooling and research them and find one method that seems to fit your style and your goals.

4) Find the right level

Home school curriculum is often one year ahead of public school textbooks. Do not fall into the trap that just because your average 9 or 10 year old is going into 4th grade, that they must use 4th grade curriculum. This is especially true with mathematics, grammar and science programs. Most publishers offer placement tests -- take the time to place your children and you will save $$ in the long run. Don't let ego get in the way and don't let your children force you to place them in the same level as their peers. It is much better to take the time and slowly work through each concept so as to master it then to rush through and find a year or two down the road that you have to spend time in review.

5) Purchase your books

There are many ways to save on curriculum so don't just purchase it from the first website or catalog you receive. Be a savvy shopper and you will end up saving $$. Ask friends, attend the local home school convention in your area, price shop online, join e-groups/mail lists or message boards where curriculum is swapped and traded, use EBay!

6) Budget your time

It takes time to home school, time to plan and time to teach. Don't short-change yourself or your children. Don't plan to school 'around' extra-curricular activities or in the car. School should be first priority and just as if your child were in public or private school, plan all extra activities for the afternoon hours (after 3 p.m.) or evenings. Also, make sure to budget in time to keep your home, cook, clean, sew, garden, etc. Your house will not clean itself and there is no reason to let your home go just because you are schooling. Check out or Managers of the Home for help on getting organized.

7) Be flexible

Kids will get sick, in-laws will visit, vacations and trips will happen. School with freedom and flexibility but don't let a 'loose' and 'free' lifestyle keep you from schooling. Remember: your schedule is your friend, it is there to help keep you on track. It is not a prison warden -- you do have freedom -- just remember that with all liberality, there is responsibility.

8) Have fun

Always keep in mind why you are home schooling. Write your goals down and post them on your computer or refrigerator so that you will be reminded often of why you are schooling your children at home. Keep a good attitude and make school fun for your children. Remember that often your bad attitude will affect your children's attitude. If they are complaining and whining -- check yourself first! Make sure you are being realistic in your goals and expectations and that your children understand what is expected of them (no TV during the day, no video games, math first, etc.) Be clear, be firm. Fun times will happen and your children will bless you for your diligence and consistency!

**Next:  Choose Your Method  or Tips for New Home Schoolers

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Getting Started | Getting Organized | Some Schedules and Forms | PDF Files

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