Ok....so perhaps this post title has a little dramatic flair! Forgive me and read right past it for some practical help. Many friends and acquaintances have contacted me over time with the same types of questions. To make it easier to reference, share, and pass along, I've created this post full of reasonable, matter-of-fact, solid advice that I hope will help someone along their way!
So many of us homeschool.
For many different reasons.
In so many different ways.
That alone probably sums up most of the following information. But since you're probably expecting more details, I'll start at the beginning....
Let's go ahead and get this detail out of the way. Although it may seem intimidating, with a little planning and record keeping, it's actually the easiest part of the job for me.
First Year: It's as simple as submitting an initial application with the state, basically notifying them that you will be homeschooling your child/children. This is done through the Department of Education and is as simple as providing your family's information and the birth certificates of your children. This can all be done online HERE. Then you wait for your notice of approval. Easy-peasy!
Second Year: It gets a little more detailed. Once again, you submit an application, this time for renewal. More information and documentation is required. Please don't let that intimidate you-it's really an easy process. If you are educating your children with acceptable resources and keeping record of their work (including the work itself), these requirements will be nothing more than providing requested information. HERE you will find expected responsibilities (and freedoms) as your child's educator....right from the DOE itself.
Disclaimer: We reside in the state of Louisiana and the information shared here is for fellow residents. As homeschool laws and requirements vary from state to state, be sure to research your home state for the legalities.
You DO NOT have to have a college degree or be certified to teach your own children. Common sense is that if you yourself struggle with learning, it's probably a good idea to look further into your decision to homeschool. I'm not saying it can't be done if that's your situation, just that I'm not familiar with your options or resources available. I am personally a student at heart and learning has always come easily and joyfully for me. You will know if you're equipped to teach your child. You will know if God is calling you into the ministry of leading your children in this huge area of their lives. It was a journey for me to get to the starting point, as it has been for so many other homeschool Mom's. So often it starts with a quiet whisper to your heart and a strong desire to learn more about this way of family life. I love seeing the journey begin and come to fruition in others. Then begins the journey of Homeschool itself.
With that being said, I will be the first to tell you....homeschool is NOT an easy road to travel. It is so very worth it, a beautifully messy journey, and full of good and not so good days. It is truly a gift, a ministry, and full of a lot of easy AND hard work. It IS a full time job. I wouldn't have it any other way! I do however, always want inquiring minds to understand this. I would never want one to believe that this is an easy way out or that anyone can do it. I'm no better than the Public School Parent, the Veteran Homeschooler, or the Mom that wants to homeschool her children but can't. I'm simply, imperfectly obedient to God's call on my life and so very thankful for His grace where I fall short.
This is really the question of all questions. You will easily discover that you can spend hour upon hour researching this subject and not even begin to discover what resources are out there. Combine that with the fact that every child is different and you'll find an answer that I simply cannot provide for you. What I can do is share some of the basics that I've learned along the way. I've found that a good starting place in the curriculum hunt is to look first into different homeschool methods. The beauty of homeschool is that you decide the approach, curriculum, and schedule that best fits your family and meets the needs of your learners. The list below is only a starting point, as there are really no set rules in how and what avenues you choose.
If anything, the above list eliminated many curriculum options from my personal search. Still, that was a valuable step. The choices of curriculum seem endless and there are so many good options out there. Many, if not most, families choose to piece their curriculum together. We do use a set curriculum for the most part. For those interested, we order our books and resources primarily HERE. What I love about this site is I'm able to use it as a sound guideline while still incorporating more than one publisher.
I guess I must address that dreaded catch phrase 'Socialization'. I'll save us all some time here and refer you to the many online articles, blog posts, and resources regarding our children's growth outside of books and learning. Is this important? Of course. Another value of homeschool is guiding the growth and development of the whole child, not just their education. In our home, we are busier now than we ever were before homeschool. I just don't believe it takes a formal school classroom environment to prepare my children for real life. I do however think there are important things that need to be learned outside of the home. And trust me when I tell you there are so many ways to fill in those 'gaps'. Some of many options include....
Homeschool Co-Ops (This is our first year in a co-op and it's absolutely amazing)
Family & Friend Get Togethers
AFTER THE DECISION
We're presently in our 3rd year of homeschool. It took us about a year to 'decompress' from the conventional school atmosphere. If there's anything I've learned, it's that no year will be the same. Each child, each season of life, and each grade level brings new joys and adventures. I grow and learn right alongside these kids....in ways far beyond books and teaching. Homeschool brings out the best and the 'not so best' in myself and my small people. The gift is that each shortcoming or challenge we confront is recognizable, dealt with, and worked out. As a parent and the teacher of my children, I can't think of a better pro-active approach. I am grateful and so very blessed to have the opportunity to live this homeschool life with the people I love the most.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.