Tips for New Homeschoolers

Making the decision to homeschool is both exciting and scary. Often, you take the leap but immediately think, Oh no, now what? If you are new to homeschooling, here are some tips for getting started.


FIRST, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Maybe two or three would be best. You'll be fine. Parents all over the country are successfully educating their children at home with outstanding results. They don't possess any special insight, skills or knowledge that you don't. They simply trust themselves and their children to work out a method for becoming educated while still having a life, and you can do it too! Tip number 1: Trust yourself to find the best way to do this.

SECOND, read and listen, read and listen, read and listen! You'll begin to get an idea of what you don't know and you can then begin to ask questions. Find others who homeschool and ask them how they do it. Ask to "hang out" with them for a few days. Read some of the many books published on homeschooling, many of which can be found in the public library. Remember that some of the material will contradict what others state as fact. Tip number 2: There is very little "fact" but lots of opinions on the best way to homeschool. Realize there are as many ways to homeschool as there are families doing it. Refer back to tip number one!

THIRD, discuss your ideas with your children and come up with a consensus for how you will begin. Plan for a "trial period" during which everyone will agree to cooperate to their best ability. Agree to regularly evaluate how it's going and, after a set period, decide if you need to make any major changes. It may take several "starts" before you discover your family style. Tip number 3: A plan that makes everyone stressed out or miserable is not a good plan. Be flexible and listen to each other!

FOURTH, remember that if your children have previously been in a government or private school, homeschooling can be intimidating and they will most likely need some "down" time in order to adjust. This is often referred to as "deschooling" and a typical rule of thumb is one month for every year your child was in school. You know your children best and can gauge how much time is needed. Most children, however, are pretty exhausted, are used to being told what to do all day long, and will experience some kind of related stress as a result of the transition. Tip number 4: The longer children have been in school the longer the transition to self-motivated learning may take. Read up on deschooling. And see tip number three!

FIFTH, finding a support group is very helpful. There are inclusive groups and religious groups. Each group has its own "flavor" or focus. There may be one or many in your area, or it may be necessary to start your own. Check online and with your local librarian for groups in your area. Some groups meet for study, some for social events, some for field trips and some for a combination of activities. You will find other parents who will share your joys and frustrations, and with whom you can share valuable information and support. Your children will find friends and activities to keep their social lives alive, and their physical and intellectual needs met. They will interact with children and adults of all ages and that can be the very best atmosphere for learning how to become a social being! Tip number 5: Giving and receiving support, for children and adults, can be the difference between struggling and soaring!

Most important of all, relax and enjoy your time with your children. This time you will spend with them can be some of the most enjoyable, interesting and inspiring in all of your lives. Happy homeschooling!

Adapted from The Oregon Connection, Newsletter of The Oregon Home Education Network.