Breaking the Mold: Making the Transition to Homeschooling

October 14–18, 2013   |   Vol. 117, Programs 31–35

Are you getting ready to transition to homeschooling? Sometimes it can seem like there are a lot of hoops to jump through along the way! Join Mike Smith and his guests as they discuss how you can do make the change smoothly and successfully on this week’s Home School Heartbeat.

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@home e-vent

Are you thinking about homeschooling? If so, you’ll want to be sure that you check out HSLDA’s #64;home e-vent, “Give Me One Good Reason to Homeschool.” In this informative and encouraging talk, homeschool father Davis Carman addresses common concerns such as socialization, dispels homeschooling myths, and offers encouragement! Follow the link below to learn more or to register.

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Thinking about homeschooling? And wondering what you don’t know yet, but you think you should? Join host Mike Smith on this week’s Home School Heartbeat for practical helps as you transition into home education.

Mike Smith:If you are considering homeschooling, you’ve already shown how much you want the best possible education for your child! Now, you probably want some specifics on just what homeschooling will entail for you as a parent and soon-to-be teacher. So, where to begin?

As with any other endeavor, begin the awesome task of homeschooling by taking a step back to gain some perspective. You and your spouse should be united in your goals for your children, and agreed upon how to achieve those goals. Invite the children to provide input as well—this shows that you’re open to ideas on how to provide the best education possible!

There are many options and decisions at this stage, but don’t let that distract you! By staying focused on your educational plan, you set the tone for your homeschool. If you’re excited and energized, your enthusiasm will be contagious, and learning will be that much more fun and effective!

As you get yourself in the right mindset, make it a habit to remind yourself of the reasons why you’re choosing to homeschool: a higher-quality education, freedom to teach according to religious convictions, more flexibility to let your children study the things they’re passionate about. Then, let these goals shape the little and the big decisions: the curriculum you purchase, the fieldtrips you take, and the subjects you focus on.

Get started on the right foot, and you’re halfway there!

And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: This week we’re talking about how to make a smooth transition from public or private school to homeschooling. A crucial step in this process is knowing the legal requirements of your state. Joining us today is HSLDA Legal Assistant Peter LaRock. Welcome to the program, Peter!

Peter LaRock:Hi, Mike, it’s great to be here.

Mike: Peter, you talk to lots of families who are just beginning their homeschooling journey. Are there specific legal requirements for all homeschoolers? And how should a family who’s just starting find out what they need to know to homeschool legally?

Peter:Mike, those are great questions. First you asked if there are specific legal requirements for all homeschoolers, and the answer is yes—but they aren’t all the same. Homeschool laws in the United States vary pretty dramatically across the states. Some require notification, some require testing, and some require that certain records be kept. But I don’t think that any of those requirements are constant across all 50 states. That, and even within some states you’ll still run into different legal options that you’ll be able to choose between when you start homeschooling.

So, Mike, because every state is different, the first thing that I would recommend that any parent do if they’re considering homeschooling, is to go to our website and look up our analysis of that state’s homeschool laws. Our attorneys have spent countless hours researching and updating these to make sure that any parent who wants to homeschool has the knowledge they need, so they can start out confident that their program is in full compliance with state law.

Mike: Thanks, Peter, for your time today! And I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Now we come to the question you’ve all been waiting for: what’s the perfect curriculum? Well, the short answer is, it really depends on the child! Today Diane Kummer, one of HSLDA’s high school consultants, joins me. Diane, welcome!

Diane Kummer: Well, hi, Mike, I’m glad to be here with you today!

Mike: Diane, what are a few things every mom should know when selecting curriculum for the very first time?

Diane: Well, I have a few tips, Mike. First of all, don’t be overwhelmed by all the curriculum choices. Have fun sorting through the various options. Factors when choosing curriculum would include your family’s budget, and how much time Mom has available for lesson planning and teaching. So I encourage parents to read through homeschool catalogs and websites.

Attend your state homeschool conferences where you can actually take a look at various materials. Then, talk to other families about what they like and don’t like about the curriculum they use.

Finally, on the HSLDA website, we have webinars that will help you determine your child’s learning style. We also provide links to curriculum—from the early years all the way up through high school. That gives parents a good starting place to investigate curriculum choices.

Mike: Diane, thank you for those tremendous insights! And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: You filed the legal paperwork. You purchased the curriculum. What’s left to do as you begin homeschooling your child? Well, a few things, actually!

A lot of emphasis gets placed on filling out the right paperwork and buying the right books. But there’s a wealth of homeschooling knowledge that you can learn best by talking with and observing those who have gone before you. How do you find these experienced homeschoolers? Get plugged into a homeschool group or a co-op, or just purposefully seek out other families who home educate.

Whether or not your support system has a fancy title, it’s essential to find friends who can encourage you and share their homeschooling experience. When you don’t know what curriculum to buy, they can tell you which one worked best for them. When you get discouraged or confused, they can encourage you and remind you why you started homeschooling in the first place.

Aside from finding a group of supportive friends, it’s also important to cultivate a love of learning in your home. You’ve shown your children that their education is important to you by making the bold choice to home educate. Now, approach each subject you study together with the same dedication and tenacity. Sure, your son or daughter may not love every subject you tackle together. But when you have a positive attitude, you give your children a chance to discover that they like subjects you may never have imagined them enjoying.

Until next time, happy homeschooling! I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: The tricky thing about homeschooling is that you are both the educator and the parent. But viewed rightly, this is a great chance to grow closer to your children—through the times of learning and discovery, as well as by working through the challenges that may arise.

Nurturing healthy relationships with your children may look different now that you’re together so much. Don’t let school time together replace quality time you’d spend together otherwise! It’s still important that you’re available and actively interested in your children’s lives outside the classroom.

While homeschooling will definitely increase your involvement in your children’s academics, let them work on their own as much as they’re capable. Of course, you should keep them accountable by the quizzes and tests you administer. As long as your student shows the virtue of self-discipline, let him do reading or other assignments with minimal interruption. Space and responsibility are both essential elements for older students.

Spending time at home together with your children is great. But variety can be beneficial as well! Take time for field trips, as well as for days to study at the park or at the library, so that you don’t get collective cabin fever!

Like all of life, homeschooling is about balance. Occasionally, we all lean too far to one side of the tightrope or the other, but you can make it—if you keep your eyes on the goal!

Until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Diane Kummer:

Diane and her husband Tom homeschooled their two children from kindergarten through 12th grade using a variety of teaching options. The Kummers’ daughter completed her master’s degree in government and their son earned a bachelor of arts degree in communications/public relations. After her children graduated from high school, Diane helped to develop HSLDA’s Homeschooling Thru High School program and website. As an HSLDA High School Consultant, Diane regularly speaks throughout the country at homeschool conferences and one-day high school symposiums where she shares from her experiences and her imperfect (but real) homeschooling days! Diane enjoys writing articles (such as regular columns for the Homeschool Enrichment magazine), brochures on high school topics, and a monthly high school newsletter filled with helpful tips. She reviews new resources and provides personal consultation to HSLDA members by giving advice on high school planning, suggesting curriculum options, lending a listening ear, and reassuring parents they are on the right track as they head into the high school years. “The joy and grace of the Lord are available—and He has provided many avenues of care and help along the way,” she says. During her homeschooling years, Diane coordinated events, activities, and support meetings for her church’s 190-plus homeschooling families while developing a program that provided evaluation of credits, diplomas, and transcripts for high school families. Along with songwriters, singers, and actresses from her church, Diane was involved in two videos created by the FunnyMoms to encourage and uplift homeschooling mothers. Her love for math is evident as she continues to teach high school-level math classes for homeschooled students.

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