By Heather Aliano
Are you considering homeschooling? Maybe you moved this year, and the transition hasn’t been smooth. Maybe your child’s IEP isn’t being followed as closely as you would like. Maybe you need more time in the day so your child can pursue their talents in gymnastics, or you live overseas and want more time to explore this big beautiful world with your kids.
Homeschooling can be an incredible gift for a military family. When kids are uprooted and have to move as often as we do, it can be nice to know that no matter where you move, or when you move, your child can stick with the same curriculum and teacher (that’s you) and never fall behind. Homeschooling can provide freedom — freedom to take leave whenever you like (Disney World in early December, anyone?) or take time off when your spouse comes home from their deployment.
Getting started can be overwhelming- but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some simple steps to get the ball rolling:
1. Research what homeschool laws apply to you.
If you are living overseas, you are free and clear to begin homeschooling at any time because there is no oversight. I recommend contacting your school liaison officer who may be able to connect you with a local homeschooling support group. If you are stateside, you’ll need to follow the laws where you live. Each state is different; some locations will require you to register, others will need tests, records or even a sit-down meeting with education officials. Search Facebook for local homeschooling groups and Google the laws. You’ll be able to sort it out in no time.
2. Find a support group.
This goes hand in hand with the above advice– if you find a local homeschooling group to help answer your questions about legal requirements, see if they also have meet-ups, playgroups, or group classes for you to join in. Homeschooling is a ton of fun but it is also hard work, and it pays to have people to call for support on rough days. You can also find homeschooling support groups online.
3. Spend time with your child.
Before you jump in with homeschooling, you’ll want to spend a lot of heart-to-heart time with your student–especially if they are middle or high schoolers. Talk to them about their favorite subjects. See how they like to learn. Find out what they are interested in. Teaching is much easier when kids are invested in the topic at hand. You can’t just skip math because they claim they hate it, but you can find science programs all about animals if they want to be a zookeeper or pick up a unit study on WWII if they are history buffs.
4. Don’t over-buy your curriculum
When you first get started homeschooling, it’s easy to feel like you need to purchase all the best programs. Many times, families end up spending way too much money on programs that just won’t work for them. You can start by looking at free homeschool programs while you research curriculum, talk to other families, and narrow down what programs will work for you.
5. Keep your eye on the prize.
The number one goal with homeschooling is not always going to be mastery of a list of facts or a score on a standardized test. The goal of homeschooling is to teach your child how to learn and teach them to love learning. Make learning fun. Model a good attitude. Ask questions, research answers, explore, experiment, play. If you enjoy learning alongside your child, you’re both off to a great start.
Heather Aliano is a proud Air Force Wife and mother to four wild and wonderful munchkins. She blogs over at Only Passionate Curiosity where you can find free educational worksheets, fun hands on activities and tips and tricks to make life a little easier.