1. Write your vision and goals down. Verba volant, scripta manent. That’s Latin for “Spoken words fly away, but written words remain.” This will help you for those moments when you:
- can’t remember why you decided to homeschool or
- need to see the big picture or
- must put theory aside and actually achieve something.
In the words of Tom Fleming, “That which gets written, gets done.”
2. Learn about different curricula. The options can be overwhelming, so give yourself time to research at your own pace. Keep notes on what you find out. For young children, you do not need a curriculum. Really. Carefully choose children’s books from the library and read to them at least 30 minutes a day.
3. Attend a used curriculum sale. You will discover that all homeschoolers do not have seven children, really long skirts and even longer hair. Besides, you might find some bargains. How can you go wrong when you purchase a textbook for $.50?
4. Join a support group. Don’t homeschool in a vacuum. If you do, you will get lonely, bored, and burned out. Homeschooling is the path less taken. Stick together with the few brave ones who are on the same journey as you. In a support group, you will find a mix of newbies and veterans. You can learn from all and, on the other hand, you can serve the group with your talents, e.g. teaching an instrument or a subject, bringing a warm dish to parent support night, or coordinating the LEGO Club.
5. Attend a homeschooling conference. Take notes as you listen to practical advice and inspirational messages from veteran homeschoolers. Sign up for different newsletters. Join relevant mailing lists. Look at curriculum up close. If the conference is huge (think Walmart-size vendor area), be careful not to overwhelm yourself. Wear comfortable shoes and bring a rolling luggage if you plan on buying curriculum.
6. Read a how-to book a month. Think of it as in-service. If one book a month seems too much, start by reading one every three months and work your way into a faster reading plan.
7. Subscribe to a homeschooling magazine. Short articles you can finish in twelve minutes might be just what you need at the end of a tough day in your homeschool.
8. Follow homeschooling blogs you enjoy. From free printables to newsletters to e-books and encouragement, everything a homeschooling mom needs is a few informed clicks away. Blog hop to recharge your batteries while your children get their wiggles out in recess. Just remember not to compare yourself to others. Everybody is walking a different journey.
9. Order curriculum. I like Rainbow Resource Center because they have counselors available to help you decide. With the tough part of discerning the difference and choosing out of the way, it’s time to fill the shopping cart. Don’t shop till you drop though. Newbies are notorious for buying too much.
10. Plan your school year. Use a simple calendar or a fancy homeschool planner. Either way, make a plan and follow it. Start where you are and with what you have. A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow. Subtract 30 days for field trips, sickness, catching up, and testing from the mandatory 180 days of homeschool. That leaves you with 150 days of actual teaching time. Take your textbooks and divide the number of pages by 150. Usually, it works out to be 2-4 pages per day per subject.
These top 10 strategies for newbie homeschoolers do not have to be done in a certain order, but it helps if you leave the planning for the later stages of your research. It only makes sense because you can plan better after you have an idea of what to do and how to do it. Good luck!
Adriana Zoder is a polyglot, blogger, newspaper columnist and homeschooling mom. She blogs about her homeschool experience at http://www.HomeschoolWays.com. You can connect with Adriana and Homeschool Ways on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+.