It’s been two months of full-time homeschooling. In August 2020, I went from a full-time small business owner and bonus mama to homeschool director in a matter of days. (And to be honest, I’m still juggling all of those roles!) But even though my load has increased, even though some days are pretty darn tough, and even though everyone around me thinks I’m absolutely insane (haha!), I’m thankful I stepped into this journey.
If you’re considering homeschooling, here are six tips from someone in the proverbial trenches:
1. Research Your Curriculum In Advance
Before you make any type of decision, I would encourage you to research. Search for the Common Core Standards and look at your specific state. If you reside in a district that shares their programs or curriculum, dive into that, too.
Ask questions. Approach teachers. Watch webinars. Listen to live videos.
The first step to knowing whether or not you can actually homeschool is based upon your understanding of the grade-level requirements, programs you could use (both main and supplementary), and how you’ll teach, assess, and document progress and mastery of standards. If this confuses the heck out of you—don’t worry—that’s normal! Make sure you reach out to people (especially educators or homeschool parents who are doing this dance) and learn from them.
2. Determine Initial Investment
As much as I’d like to say that homeschooling is free—it’s not. And it can be pricey, especially if you’re taking on more than your own children. Before you launch, make sure to budget and determine an initial investment.
Here are a few things to keep in mind: teacher edition and student editions of textbooks or curriculum, online supplementary programs which often require registration fees, school supplies, teaching materials and technology (ex: whiteboard or computer monitor), arts/projects materials, and printing costs.
3. Connect With Your Network
Networking is everything when it comes to homeschooling. Join Facebook groups that are dedicated to helping educators and parents (like this one and this one). Also, tap into your local network to see if there is interest. This is something I did and it shifted my personal homeschool into a school of six!
4. Establish Rates & Structure
If you’re going to launch a program that supports students other than your own children, be sure to set up your rates from the very start. Here are some things to consider: your time, resources, use of your personal materials and space, outside tech support, time spent grading, student meetings, and any learning disabilities that your students have that may require additional support.
Your rates should honor yourself (especially if you are a qualified professional!) and offer a positive and reasonable experience for those investing in you.
5. Create A Planning System
Organization is everything when it comes to homeschooling. I would highly suggest investing in tools that help you plan. Before my official start date, I created a binder with all the resources I would need for the year: calendars, planner sheets, behavior logs, conference tracking notes, etc.
It’s also helpful to create a planning system online, too, so that you can access it from anywhere. This will be the way you organize your curriculum and ensure that it’s standards-aligned as well as differentiated for students at different levels.
6. Build Your Patience
One of the things I’ve struggled with the most is my patience. Sometimes I feel like I’m stretched too thin, and while I recognize this is human, it’s still hard. As you embark on your homeschooling journey (or take the first steps towards it) make sure you encourage yourself to be as patient as possible—with your students and perhaps even more importantly, with yourself.
PS: I’m an Educational Partner with Youth Inspired Publishing! Learn more here.