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So You've Decided to Homeschool Your Kids. Now What? 8 Next Steps to Kick Off the Journey.


Mother and daughter engaging in a lesson at home.

With the state of Education that currently exists in our systems today, homeschooling has become an increasingly popular choice for parents.  We get it!  Some are seeking a more personalized and flexible approach to education, while others are over the incessant testing and long days at a desk. Whether driven by concerns about traditional schooling environments, a desire for a customized curriculum, or unique family circumstances, embarking on the homeschooling journey can be rewarding. However, starting can feel overwhelming.  You may be wondering, where do I even begin?


Luckily, you have found TSH Anywhere.


We are here to help you navigate the choppy waters of educating your child(ren), as well as provide you access to the BEST HOMESCHOOLING CURRICULUM in AMERICA. Below are some early steps - a TO DO list, if you will - on what your next steps should be now that you have made the awesome, empowering and life-changing decision to homeschool or micro school your child. 


1. Understand Your State's Homeschooling Laws

First, take a breath.  Don’t fret about the legalities.  Most states have clear outlines of what you need to do, and there are also inexpensive legal agencies that are available to guide you if you live in a state that is more complicated. 


Either way, your first step in homeschooling is to become familiar with the legal requirements in your state or country. Homeschooling regulations do vary widely, from states with minimal oversight to those requiring detailed record-keeping and periodic assessments.


Key steps include:

  • Researching local homeschooling laws through state education departments or homeschooling organizations.  Almost everything you need to know can be found online, or by calling your local school district administers office.

  • Filing necessary paperwork, which can range from a simple notice of intent to homeschool in Florida, to an individuated homeschooling educational plan in New York.

  • Understanding any required subjects, standardized testing, or assessment processes that your state requires, if any.

  • Check if you state offers homeschooling incentive programs to help pay for curriculum costs, materials, etc.  (For example, Florida gives anywhere from $7,500-$10,200 for each child to go towards homeschooling!) 




2. Define Your Educational Philosophy and Goals

Homeschooling allows you to tailor education to your child’s needs, but it’s essential to start with a clear vision for how that will look for you and your child(ren). Remember though, homeschooling does NOT need to look like traditional schooling.. actually, it shouldn’t!  It is likely why you are exiting the system. 

As you start this journey, consider the following:

  • Educational Philosophy: Keep your mind open to new pedagogies, ones that are more aligned to meet the developmental needs of the child.  Research the various options, including Montessori methods, unschooling, project-based learning…or an eclectic mix!  As you research the different educational philosophies, see what resonates with you and your child. 

  • (We spent the past 12 years doing just this, and decided to combine the best of everything we could find into one curriculum.  That is how the American Emergent Curriculum was born.)

  • · Goals: What do you hope to achieve through homeschooling? These might include academic achievements, character development, or fostering a love of learning... as well as just bringing back the joy of childhood.

3. Choose a Curriculum

Selecting a curriculum can be one of the most exciting yet daunting aspects of homeschooling. Most curricula are broken down by subject and you can purchase separate pieces from different providers.  Be sure to check when it was last updated though, as many are often contain antiquated information.

We at TSHA do not believe that is best for elementary Learners, which is why we created the only living, innovative, interconnected and inspirational American Emergent Curriculum, combining the various subjects and topics (updated annually) into combined lessons for scaffolded learning, allowing for a variety of abilities in each topic.    

As you review the many options, here are some tips to guide your choice:

  • Research Options: Various homeschooling curriculums options exist. There are complete packages, online programs, and resources for creating your own curriculum.  Only you can decide what is best for you and your family.  Whatever you choose, do not settle for mediocrity.  Afterall, that is likely why you started homeschooling. 

  • Consider Your Child’s Learning Style: Adapt your choices to fit your child’s strengths and interests, whether they are visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners.  Remember to have fun with child and foster their interest in learning. Learning should not be just worksheets or workbooks, but hands on experiences that build foundational understandings of abstract topics.  

  • Flexibility: Be open to adjusting your strategies as you go. What works well one year might need tweaking the next. Find a program that provides flexibility, options and gives you the freedom to follow the child(ren) you are working with.

4. Create a Schedule and Learning Environment

Homeschooling offers the flexibility to create a schedule that works for your family, but structure is still important.

  • Daily/Weekly Schedule: Outline your typical homeschooling day or week. Most families decide on your core subjects and allocate time for each.  We prefer to provide an uninterrupted work cycle of about three hours, incorporating multiple subjects within the same activity, and allow the child to dive into their interests to provide a fulfilling learning journey. Either way, start with a plan and adjust as you go to meet your child’s needs. 

  • Learning Environment: Designate a specific area in your home for homeschooling. Make it beautiful, clean, inviting and interesting.  Prepare your environment so that your child is free to explore. Ensure it is conducive to learning, free from screens and distractions, and change your shelves regularly to continue to spark interest based on the topics you are learning about.

5. Gather Resources and Support

Homeschooling doesn’t mean you have to do it all alone. In fact, it is best if you find or create a community to support you.  Leverage local available resources and connect with the homeschooling community in your area or online.  We have already created one online for you!

  • Books and Materials: Invest in a variety of books that spart interest.  Though textbooks and workbooks seem like an easy place to start, remember that they are often antiquated and boring to children, and do not provide the hands on learning they need.  Chose books that are rich with vivid pictures, interesting information, exciting adventures they want to read about, and ones that are on topic to what you are learning about.  Invest in fun educational games and manipulative materials that help Learners understand abstract concepts. Libraries can also be an excellent resource, and provide you with an endless variety of books to keep your shelves fresh for exploration. 

TSHA actually helps you with this, providing printable manipulatives, options to purchase manipulatives and learning games, as well as book recommendations that align with the curriculum. Click here to get started with our program today.

 

  • Online Resources: Websites, educational apps, and online courses can complement your curriculum for you as a parent in helping you educate your child(ren).  There are several options as well for screen-based learning for children, but remember, children only retain 4% of what they learn through screens, and too much screen time is detrimental to your child’s brain development.  Though well intentioned, we do not recommend screen-based learning.  In fact, we strongly believe that children 12 and under should have very limited screen time, with experts agreeing that one hour a day is more than sufficient. However, there are many online resources for Parents to utilize in supporting your journey in becoming your child’s Educator for their person to person learning.

  • Support Groups: Join local or online homeschooling groups. These communities can provide support, advice, social opportunities, and even group learning experiences.


6. Plan for Socialization

One common concern about homeschooling is socialization. Often, when you choose the right program, homeschooled children have more free time for socialization than traditionally schooled children.  There are so many ways to provide meaningful socialization:

Homeschool Co-ops/Micro Schools: Many areas have co-ops where homeschoolers come together for group classes and activities. If your child is between 6-12 years of age, most children learn best in group learning environments where they can engage with one another on academic projects and topics. During this stage of development, it is best to support this sensitive period to help support their needs. 

(This is one of the main reasons why TSH Anywhere is offering so much support to Educators and Entrepreneurs who are looking to start micro schools.  The TSH Anywhere program is designed to also be used to support a co-op or micro school. If you know a group of parents or educators that would be interested, have them email us at: tsha@theschoolhouse.org)

  • Extracurricular Activities: Enroll your child in sports, music, arts, or other community programs.  Most places have special classes for homeschooling families during school hours at reduced rates.  Local libraries also often have many homeschooling activities. 

  • Playdates and Field Trips: Organize regular meet-ups with other homeschooling families or take educational field trips to museums, parks, and cultural events.  You can often get reduced rates for homeschooling families, or even free tickets to live performances if you call ahead and ask.  (The Palm Beach Opera House in Florida gives free tickets to each dress rehearsal for homeschooling families!)

7. Monitor Progress and Be Flexible

Regularly assess your child’s progress to ensure they are meeting educational goals.

  • Record-Keeping: Maintain records of your child’s work, assessments, and achievements. This can be useful for tracking progress and meeting some state requirements.

  • Flexibility: Be prepared to adapt your methods, materials and work pace as needed. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to try a different approach, or to switch directions for the day.  Remember to follow the child. 

8. Stay Informed and Inspired

Homeschooling is a continuous learning process for both parents and children. Stay informed and inspired by:

  • Continuous Learning: Read books, attend workshops, and participate in webinars about homeschooling and education.

  • Networking: Engage with other homeschooling parents for ideas and encouragement.  TSHA provides a community online for sharing of ideas, information and inspiration.

Conclusion

We are done beating around the bush.  It is time to change school in America and give our children back the childhood and education they deserve.  Homeschooling and micro schooling can be a fulfilling and effective educational choice for your family. By understanding the legal requirements, defining your goals, choosing the right curriculum, creating a structured yet flexible schedule, and actively seeking resources and support, you can create a thriving homeschooling environment. Remember, the journey of homeschooling is unique to each family, so embrace the flexibility and enjoy the process of learning and growing together. 


The TSHA Team wishes you and your learner(s) Happy homeschooling!

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