We’ve Decided to Homeschool, Now What? (Part I)
Updated: Apr 1, 2019
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? – Luke 14:28
Making the decision to homeschool is the most difficult part but once the decision is made, that’s when the real work (and fun) starts. There is a lot to consider and figure out before you start, especially if you are pulling a child from public school as opposed to just starting from preschool. Once we made the decision, we spent a couple of months doing more research and getting prepared to start our homeschooling adventure. In this post, I’m going to get specific about our own personal journey to get ready by posing questions you probably need to ask yourself. There is a lot to consider so Part I will focus mostly on getting yourselves ready and Part II will focus on getting everyone else ready.
· What kind of homeschoolers will we be? There are many different styles and approaches to homeschooling. Some of the most common ones are: School-at Home (somewhat replicating school, but at home obviously), Online Schooling, Charlotte Mason (uses living books, a great deal of nature, & art), Unit Studies (all of your subjects are incorporated around a theme), Classical (based on Grammar, Logic, & Rhetoric), & Unschooling (more of a child-led approach). We are pretty traditional and knew Connor wanted to go to college so we leaned more towards a school-at-home approach from the get-go. I would say we have evolved a little since we started but still function very much like school in the subjects we learn.
· What curriculum will we use? There are so many choices out there when it comes to curriculum and I’m not going to lie, it was extremely overwhelming! We searched through so many different options our heads were spinning. Since Connor was finishing 3rd grade, was a good student and liked school, we really wanted something we could jump right into and not lose time as far as what he was learning. With this in mind, we decided a boxed curriculum was a good choice so we could hit the ground running. We landed on ACE Curriculum and so we ordered the entire 4th grade set for all subjects. It felt like Christmas when we opened our big box! I will go into more about ACE on a future curriculum review series but I will say, it was a really good place for us to start. I will caution you though, once you decide on a boxed curriculum, if it is an option, just buy a few things to get started. How ACE is set up is that each subject has 12 workbooks for the year. It is convenient and portable and makes a lot of sense. It also lends itself to working independently; Connor's first day of homeschool, he was up at 6 working at his desk before I even got out of bed! Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for us to realize some of the subjects just really weren’t what we wanted and there we were with 12 workbooks already paid for, sitting on the bookshelf. My best advice would be to seek out a local homeschool conference if possible, these are not only great for the helpful information in the sessions but is a great place to actually lay eyes on curriculum; look at it, ask questions about it, see what you really think you need. If there is a conference within a couple months of when you want to start homeschooling, don't order curriculum yet, just pick up some workbooks at Walmart or Amazon to get started on the learning, get a library card and find some resources on Pinterest until you can seriously check out the curriculum in person.
· How much is this going to cost? Budget is definitely something to consider when choosing your curriculum but is certainly not a barrier. Homeschool resources run the gamut in pricing so you can literally spend practically nothing to homeschool or you can spend thousands of dollars a year. A popular, free resource is Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool, I haven’t used it personally but I think it would be a good resource to know about. We are fortunate in our current circumstances in that we have a fairly good budget for homeschool curriculum and resources. After our initial investment when we bought the 4th grade boxed curriculum, we decided to budget $50 per month to use towards homeschool resources. Over the years, that has been plenty to be able to purchase our first choice in curriculum for every subject, pay for supplemental resources like flashcards and games and even allowed for us to figure out something isn’t working and buy something new halfway through the year. We are very aware that our financial situation could change and we may have to be more frugal but the good news is that there are many options out there for every budget. On top of budget friendly new curriculum, many local homeschool groups have a selling page where you can buy used curriculum you’re interested in and sell curriculum you are no longer using. Our local homeschool group also has a used curriculum sale once a year. Last year I was able to pay for several new textbooks and resources with the money I made from selling books we had finished using.
· Where will we actually homeschool? This is always a big concern for people and like most, we thought we needed a big fancy, dedicated school room with maps and globes and all kinds of cool stuff. We got started right away cleaning up our big storage room in the basement and dividing it off so we had a smaller storage/laundry room and a nice big school room. We put down carpet squares, painted a whole wall to be a dry-erase board, put up maps and posters and made a Harry Potter themed reading nook. It was pretty sweet! We used it regularly for a few months then started doing less and less work down there, gravitating more towards the dining table, couch, and covered porch (when it was nice out). Now, our homeschool “room” is pretty much wherever we feel like sitting at the time. We have a homeschool hutch in the dining room where we keep our current books and supplies and I made a dry erase “board” out of a picture frame from Hobby Lobby. So, long story short, you don’t need a fancy, dedicated homeschool room, you really just need a spot to keep your books and some basic school supplies.
Ok, I'm feeling pretty good. We have a plan, we're ready to do this, the logistics are sorted out, that's it, right? Wrong! Ugh, now we have to deal with the rest of the world. My next post will look at a start date, telling the school and the rest of the world. I'm not going to lie, that part was pretty stressful to me. Join me next time to see how we handled it all.