HOMESCHOOLING BASICS
By: Morrigan

So you are thinking about homeschooling, but aren't sure where to even start...Well, hopefully this article will shed some light for you.

Don't even think about it unless you are willing to give up a large part of your day, not just for the homeschooling, but for doing all those other things you do in a day: errand-running, house cleaning, cooking food, driving to meetings etc. If you are the kind of person who wants 3 hours to spend at her/his favorite spa/gym, then homeschooling isn't for you.

Now that's clear, the first priority should be to find out what your state says about homeschooling, and your local school superintendent's office, or county school office is where to start. Or you can use the Internet, most states have some kind of site, if not put up by the state, then by homeschoolers in that state. Generally, most states require you to declare your intention, either by filling out an "intent to homeschool" form, or by declaring your home a private school. Some states allow you to totally withdraw from the education system altogether due to religious reasons, but you will not ever be allowed to drop the kids back into the system, so it's a big decision. Most states also require some sort of end of the year evidence that the kids have actually been doing schoolwork, not watching TV all day, either in the form of standardized test results, or an actual collection of all their work, or an evaluation by a teacher. You won't know which requirement your state has unless you find out, so be sure to check before you start schooling! And, most states will offer you a chance to test your children for free at the school when they do their testing, but most homeschooling mom opt out because the test administrators treat the homeschool kids less politely than the regular school kids. Tests usually cost $25 per child. Kids under 8 years old aren't required to test usually.

Another state requirement will be who is qualified to teach-if you have a 4 year college degree, you will most likely be eligible, no matter what the degree major. If not, they may require some classes, or suggest a county "advocate" to come teach at your house. Check the regulations on this also.

Okay, so you've done your paperwork, gotten yourself registered. Next, time to pick a curriculum. Or decide you're going to make up your own. There are as many curriculums on the market as there companies to manufacture them. Some popular ones for Christians are Abeka, Bob Jones, Sonlight, Alpha-Omega, etc. and secular: Calvert School, Five in a Row, Saxon. You can look these up on the Internet, go to a local school supply store, used book store, or call their 1-800 numbers to find out when a representative will be in your area. Ask local homeschool moms about a curriculum fair, or homeschool group, they will be able to talk to you about curriculums too. You will be able to buy a package for the entire year, Calvert for 1st grade is $250.00 and they include EVERYTHING, pens, paper, rulers, crayon, the whole kit and kaboodle.

Abeka will send a catalog and you can pick and choose, or order their year package. It's up to you as to what you order. I find a year package has more than I need, and so I pick and choose. This year I did all verbal with materials I had at home, and ordered only math and science books. The thing is: you can teach up to about 5th grade with stuff you get at the library, and School Zone workbooks from Walmart. In the past, I've used computer games, National Geographic magazine, Scrabble, Upwords, Boggle, School Zone, and McGuffey's Readers plus various movies (like "Justin Morgan Had a Horse," "Johnny Tremaine", etc.) to school my kids, and they tested fine at the end of the year. A great 5-to-8-year-old curriculum is "Five in a Row." It was made by a mom, and you use classic kids' stories to teach your child. For instance, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel-on Monday you discuss the personification of the steam shovel, Tuesday you count how many people are in the book for math, Wednesday you talk about how the artwork is done, Thursday you discuss the "old" timey carts, fire engines, clothes, and Friday you go over steam power. My kids loved this method, and it only costs $78.00 for three instructional books, which will cover three years' teaching.

Once the curriculum is picked, get organized! Try to get as many supplies as you will need in advance. I've found it very inefficient to have to dash out and buy something in the middle of the class. Also, decide how your day and household are going to run while you are schooling. Set yourself a schedule, and keep to it. I have found that interruptions cause more problems than anything else: the phone, the dog, friends dropping by, errands that must be done, appointments, classes, etc. My suggestions: get up early! We lazed around until 9:00 am most mornings, much too late to have a productive day. I'd get in the schooling, and have no time to do other necessary chores. Schedule all your "outside" the home stuff for one day, and do your schooling the other four. Do 2 to 3 subjects per day. That doesn't seem like much, but if your lessons last 1 hour, and most times they'll go longer, you could be schooling 6 hours a day, what about cooking meals and washing clothes? Even with 2 hours of concentrated academics, the kids learn! It's more than they get at most schools. With these basics, I hope I've given enough information to give an idea of how to get started.

If you have any questions, email me at "mailto:Morrigan55@hotmail.com"

Good luck!

Copyright 2000 Morrigan
No reprint or other republication without express consent of author