This is a post from Sarah Mueller of Early Bird Mom
U.S. homeschooling has grown by 75% since 1999.*
That is a ton of new homeschooling families! Reasons to homeschool are as unique as families and children. Once you’ve made the decision to homeschool, the next question is often, “What do I need to buy?”
But not so fast! Put down that debit card! What I want you to understand first is this: before you go shopping, you must make sure you have these 7 things you need to start homeschooling.
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7 Things you need to start homeschooling
It’s going to get lonely. Some days will be really tough. Your friends with kids in school won’t understand. You’ll need a shoulder to cry on. Figure out who that shoulder is going to belong to. Your spouse, your sister, your best friend? Ideally you’ll have a whole support system.
Homeschool groups are an excellent source of support and socialization (the dreaded “s” word) for kids. Find a group that works for you – it may take a little searching and trial and error to find the right fit.
If you have a supportive friend or two, it will make all the difference on the days when you feel like you just can’t teach fractions or spelling or deal with a 3 year old making a mess while you try to teach. Maybe your husband will be sympathetic after a long day with the kids and you can escape for a couple hours of me-time.
Homeschooling tends to bring out the critic in people and you’ll need a safe person who can sympathize and support you.
2. A love of learning
Being a homeschool parent is a lot like going back to school yourself. Unless you already know, you’ll need to learn how to teach reading, spelling, and math. You’ll find yourself reading a lot of books with your kids. You’ll want to be able to explain to your kids how something works (or better yet, find out the answers together).
No, you don’t need the patience of Job. God doesn’t expect homeschooling mothers to be saints. But a little patience will go a long way. Trust me, you will grow in patience as a homeschool mother. If you resolve upfront to remain patient and work toward that daily, you will find difficulties with your kids easier to weather.
4. A desire to spend large chunks of time with your kids
It is a huge switch to go from sending your kids off on the schoolbus to having them home with you 24/7. If you’ve committed to homeschooling, you’ll make the adjustment, but realize that when it’s February and the snow is piled deep outside, the kids will be bouncing off the walls. You might start to feel a little envious of those moms whose kids get on the bus every day. I’m just keeping it real here, people.
5. Some kind of organizational system.
You’ll need a homeschool planner (this one, perhaps?). It doesn’t have to be fancy – whatever suits your style. But you will need a way to keep track of books you want to read, math grades, state requirements, co-op dates, and such. Homeschooling has a way of multiplying papers and you’ll need some way to manage them.
6. A library card
Or an Amazon account – and don’t miss out on Amazon’s little-known features. You’re going to need books. Lots of books. The great thing about homeschooling is that you can pick excellent books that your kids will love rather than them having to accept whatever someone on the school board picked.
There is no easier way to get kids learning than to have interesting books in your home. The nearest public library probably has more books than you’ll get through in a homeschool career. Just in case you want something they can’t get for you, Amazon is your friend.
7. A relationship with the Lord
There’s nothing like a difficult homeschool day to bring me to my knees in prayer. You’ll often find you need to lean on the Lord. He is gracious and merciful to us – His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Accept his grace and you will be refreshed. It is amazing how some time with the Lord can turn a difficult day around for me.
3 Things you DON’T need to start homeschooling
1. A teaching degree.
Homeschooling is much, much different than classroom teaching. A teaching degree may actually be a hindrance if your kids are very active (or even just boys!). As long as you are willing to learn, you can teach your child whatever he needs to know.
After all, if he’s supposed to learn it, it can’t be rocket science, can it? And if it is rocket science, you can always find a tutor. 🙂
2. A lot of money.
Sure, homeschooling can be expensive with high-end computers, online classes, oodles of books, and expensive extracurricular activities on the side. But it’s just as common to homeschool for little to no money and a library card.
There have never been more free resources for homeschoolers online. You really don’t need a polished curriculum in order to provide your child with a solid education, especially in the elementary years.
3. The ability to teach every subject
This is a common objection that new homeschoolers face. “But how will you teach chemistry?” Happily, when the time comes for chemistry, geometry, or Spanish, you’ll have lots of options from co-op classes, distance learning and good old-fashioned textbooks.
My local high school even lends out textbooks to homeschoolers. Community colleges may offer dual enrollment. Khan Academy is quickly becoming an exceptional (and free) resource for math and science online.
Chemistry (or any other advanced subject) does not need to prevent you from homeschooling. It certainly shouldn’t prevent you from homeschoooling this year if you don’t have a high school student.
If you’re just dipping your toe into the new waters of homeschooling, take a deep breath before you take that plunge. It’s going to be OK! You won’t ruin your kids. You’ll have good days and bad ones. And if you make sure you have these seven must-have’s in place, you’ll do just fine.
Are you considering homeschooling? What questions do you have?
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All photos by Sarah Mueller
This post contains affiliate links.