We’ve Decided to Homeschool, Now What? (Part II)
Updated: Mar 31, 2019
Commit to the Lord whatever you do and he will establish your plans. – Proverbs 16:3
Now that we have the logistics squared away and we've prepared ourselves for the homeschool journey, we need to figure out when we will start and then prepare everyone else for this journey. For me personally, the stress I felt about making the decision to homeschool was definitely rivaled by the thought of telling other people about it. If you missed part one of "We've decided to homeschool, now what?",read it and catch up really quick.
· When will we start? We started researching and planning in December and once we really made the decision to homeschool, we decided we would let Connor finish 3rd grade at public school. This would allow us to dabble over the summer and have things figured out in time to start 4th grade at home in August when his sister went back to school. Once we started working on the school room and ordered our curriculum, we all got really excited about it and decided if we were ready to go then why wait? We decided we would pull him out of public school at the end of the 3rd quarter and get started. “Wow! Ok, we’re really doing this?!” Even though he wasn’t completely done with 3rd grade, he was advanced enough that we went ahead and started our 4th grade curriculum so he was able to gain some ground right away. My best advice about when to start would be as soon as you feel ready. If you have your books and a general idea of how things will work, then there’s nothing holding you back. You won’t regret getting started but you might regret waiting.
· How do I handle taking my kid out of public school? Here, again, I would recommend looking at HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association). They can connect you to the laws in all 50 states and give you some advice on how to proceed. Some resources are free and others require you to be a member. If you are able to swing the membership fee, I highly recommend it. We feel much better knowing that if we run into problems, we have lawyers ready to help us out. You can also google your state + homeschooling laws and most likely find the information on your state’s board of education website. Illinois is fairly laid back about homeschooling; we are considered a private school, we are required to provide the same standard of education as they would get in public school and we are solely responsible for making sure our child is educated. There is a state homeschool registration form that can be filled out but homeschool advocates do not recommend it, so we didn’t. What I did do is email my son’s principal, tell him what our plans were and ask him what we needed to do. He was surprisingly supportive and told me all the school needed was a dated letter stating our intent to homeschool and that my email I sent would be fine. Then I sent an email to his teacher explaining what our plans were and our reasons, I wanted to make sure that she knew that our decision had nothing to do with her teaching; she was a great teacher and Connor liked her. Our experience was a positive one that I know will not be true for everyone. It helped that our kids never had any problems at school and we always had a good relationship with teachers and the administration. I know a lot of families decide to homeschool because of academic or social issues at school so the transition might not go as well. My best advice would be to try to navigate the school system in as polite a manner as possible, the less confrontational you are about the reasons you’re leaving, the less push back you will likely get from the school. If you anticipate problems, I would advise that you go into it knowing the name of your state’s HSLDA lawyer.
· How do I tell other people? This was a source of stress for me, worrying about what other people were going to think and what their response would be to me and more importantly, the kids. I know I really shouldn’t have cared but I did. I decided the easiest way to let everyone know would be to post it on Facebook. I posted about our decision and why we made it, asked that any concerns or criticisms be addressed to me, not the kids and asked for prayers as we started our new adventure. Feedback was positive; we had a lot of support and prayers offered up. I know some people were not supportive but luckily, they kept their opinions to themselves. The bottom line is that no matter what you do, you can’t make everyone happy so you just have to decide who is most important and focus on them.
We’ve figured everything out! We know what homeschool style we like, we’ve picked our curriculum, our space is ready, the date is set, the school and everyone else knows that we will now be the weird, homeschooled family. Everything is set, now we just need to get started and all will be well. LOL! Just a head’s up for those of you just starting out, you will probably change some if not all of the things you so painstakingly researched and planned out not once, but many times along your homeschool journey. So be prepared and be excited because sometimes the best parts of your day will be the things you never planned or saw coming.
What decision is still stressing you out?