How to start homeschooling
A guide to getting started with homeschooling
There is so much noise out there in the homeschool world and it is wonderful to have such a plethora of information. But the good old saying “quality over quantity” certainly does apply here (in my opinion) and I’ve become a little concerned lately that the influx of new (and, let’s be honest, vulnerable) homeschoolers are being manipulated into thinking that they need a homeschool “expert” (paid services) to teach/coach them on how to homeschool.
Hear me when I say, you don’t need paid assistance to begin homeschooling. Just like you don’t need the big box curriculum or the fancy homeschool room or the home library of pretty books and the very popular and gorgeous butterfly posters (you know the ones!) to make you FEEL like you are capable of homeschooling your kids. I’m going to be really real with you here… YOU, AS YOU ARE RIGHT NOW, IN THIS VERY MOMENT, ARE CAPABLE OF HOME EDUCATING YOUR KIDS. Now one more time, say it with me I AM ALL THAT MY KIDS NEED.
Put your money away and stop panic buying (no judgment here, I get it) at least until you have read this blog post. I want you to spend your money on things that actually help, and things that will continue to bring you and your children joy through the many wonderful years ahead.
And because I’m being real with you, the first lesson I want you to know is: You are going to stuff up! You WILL make mistakes, you will cry, and you will yell (probably!). This will happen with or without expert coaching! We are all human and developing patience to spend our days with little people (or teens!) takes time. Trust that this is the transitioning process and know that we have all been through it! You’ve got this!
So maybe you are wondering how I could be so sure? Well, I am no stranger to the sudden and shock induced introduction to homeschooling (more on my story here). It was only a few years ago that, in the span of one day, I walked out of a job I loved and pulled my son from school. I hadn’t researched homeschooling. It was really our last resort and, honestly, we didn’t think we would really need to take that path. In other words, we didn’t think that things would get so bad for our son that we would be forced into this path. I mourned the loss of my job, I hated the school system for letting us down so terribly, and I was angry that my son was so traumatised by his experiences.
But then I saw the relief in him, and gradually as time passed he healed and we connected in a way that only a homeschool family can. It is a unique and special bond. We are a team against the world. So hopefully my story will give you comfort in knowing that, even someone that didn’t want to homeschool, can be won over. Heck, I encourage others to homeschool now, my only regret is that we didn’t do this from the start.
But that first year was hard, it felt like I was learning a new language, and it felt strange to be “out of the system”. I’ll even admit I was a little embarrassed to tell people we homeschool as I didn’t want them to think we were “weird”. Oh how things have changed!
I decided to create this post for you, the sudden home educator. I’m gonna take you through each step you need to take so you can calmly ease into the homeschooling world. This is not a panic-inducing, “you need all the things” post. In fact, I truly believe a minimal homeschool is an easier homeschool. So grab your favourite drink and get comfy. I’m going to share all I know about getting started!
The (boring) necessary but important part... First things first, you need to register. Some states are more relaxed than others and this looks different for everyone, depending on where you live. My suggestion is go to Facebook and search your state and some key words, for example: “support homeschooling Qld”. Join these kinds of groups, as they have gone through what you are about to go through for your area and will be your support through registration. Some of these groups may even have members sharing their approved plans, so you can use those as a guideline which can really help.
Next you'll want to find your local authority home education website. It is best to get this information straight from the source. If you haven’t had all of your questions answered yet, call them. You don’t need to give names if you are worried, just know the requirements are ever changing and there is so much out of date information out there. So just confirm what you have learned to be true.
Some hot tips for registration
If you have pulled your child from school, you may have to wait until the home education registration application has been received from the department before the school will remove your child from their database (the school usually follows up with the department of education.) This is to prevent kids from being unregistered.
Grab a binder and label it “homeschool registration”. This is where you will keep all the papers. For my area, you are given a certificate and that certificate is to last the duration of the years registered, so it’s best to keep these papers safe!
Create a folder in your email and name it “homeschool registration”. This is where you can store all your correspondence through email regarding your homeschool registration.
It can take months to hear back from authorities and it can be frustrating. As long as you have had confirmation that they have received the paperwork, try to relax now. It’s up to them to do their job and with the rise in families moving to homeschooling, things are busier than they have ever been!
Find your community
This isn’t about socialisation, this is about finding your community and it is going to take time unless you are already connected to homeschoolers in some way. Community is important in the homeschool world, because when choosing alternative paths in education there is less support. Our worries are often ours alone to solve, but connecting with others walking similar paths removes the isolation that we can sometimes feel.
The biggest trouble I had was be