The top question that new homeschoolers ask is, “What books do I buy?”
And the #1 answer I give is: SLOW DOWN AND DO YOUR RESEARCH!
So, when you’re getting started, it’s okay to take the time to DE-SCHOOL. What is that? This post at Living Joyfully has some great explanations (and a bit of info on Unschooling – which is one of the methods we will cover below). Basically, de-schooling is taking time to help you and your student(s) get used to a new way of education, and getting out of the public school mindset.
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What do you do during your “deschooling” period? Basically, find the fun in learning again. Here are some of the things I’ve suggested to new homeschooling families:
- Go the library and let your child check out a big stack of books on any subject.
- Go to the library and ask your child what they would love to learn about. Get all the books you can find on that (gorillas, chocolate, football, dinosaurs, castles, etc.). Explore the topic further with YouTube videos, internet searches, or movies. You’ll find that this is what homeschoolers call a “unit study.”
- Have a movie marathon.
- Get in the kitchen and cook together! Make an entire meal and dessert together.
- Get a book on simple science experiments and have fun with it!
- Go camping, or on a weekend trip.
- Talk to your student about their school experience: what do they love, and not love, about school. What interests them? What is hard for them? What are they interesting in learning?
- Find a community. This is SO important. Having a small group of like-minded friends makes the new homeschooling journey so much easier.
Homeschooling is a whole new world and way of doing things, and it will go much more smoothly if you (and your student) are able to let go of the public school/classroom mindset, talk about what you want, and learn to think differently.
You are free from the classroom method. There’s no need to copy it. It didn’t work for you (for whatever reason) so don’t try to mimic it. Learning is such a natural thing for children, and it’s fun in its natural environment! Deschooling is setting up for a new way to learn.
While You De-School, It’s Time to Research
Despite your first instinct, buying curriculum is not the first thing to do. Get acquainted with the beauty of homeschooling! As I’ve already said, it’s a whole new world. You are free to tailor an education to your students based on age, interest, learning styles, budget, schedules, and more. I always advise parents to avoid buying an expensive boxed curriculum as their security blanket. You don’t have to. Take a little time to be a smart shopper. Think through your goals and buy accordingly.
Set aside an evening to read through this great site: Design Your Homeschool. There is LOTS of great advice to get you thinking.
Once you start reading and talking about homeschooling, you’ll pick up the lingo. Among the many terms you’ll hear and read are the “styles” of homeschooling. Ah, yes! You’ll definitely have a style!
You may not know your style right away, but you just might be interested in a certain one over all the rest. That’s a good place to start. But keep in mind that you may not stay there. Your homeschool will evolve with your circumstances and the ages and needs of the children.
So, let me introduce you to the most popular styles:
Traditional Textbook Style click here for a definition.
This is going to look like what most public and private schools use. It’s comfy, and many people start here (and quite a few people stay here!).
- Abeka Book
- Horizons/Alpha Omega
- Saxon/Houghton Mifflin
- Christian Liberty Press
- Alpha Omega
- Rod and Staff
Classical Style click here for a definition.
Classical homeschooling books (links):
- The Well Trained Mindby Jessie Wise & Susan Wise Bauer
- Teaching the Triviumby Harvey & Laurie Bluedorn
- The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Educationby Leigh A. Burtins
Classical Homeschooling Curriculum (links):
Charlotte Mason Style click for definition
Charlotte Mason Homeschooling books (links):
- Charlotte Mason Companionby Karen Andreola
- Charlotte Mason Educationby Catherine Levison & More Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
- Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Homeby Elizabeth Foss
- Meet Charlotte Masonby Sandi Queen
Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Websites (links):
Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Curriculum:
- Queen Homeschool
- Winter Promise
- Trail Guide to Learning
- Ambleside Online
- Living Books
- Simply Charltotte Mason
Unit Study Style (click for definition)
Unit Study Homeschool Curriculum:
Literature Based Unit Study Curriculum
- Beautiful Feet Books
- Five in a Row
- Sonlight (one of my favorites!)
- My custom literature-based history curriculum
Computer/Internet Based Style (links)
A list of online and DVD programs found HERE.
Unschooling can look different depending on the family doing it, so do some googling to see all the aspects. Basically, unschooling is child-led learning. The parent gives their child the tools to learn and allows them to follow their interests.
Articles on unschooling:
This describes us. It’s a mix of several styles. We used many things and found a great combination of what works in our house. This is pretty typical of homeschooling families. Once they find their “groove,” they feel comfortable picking from a variety of sources to create a full curriculum. You can see what we currently use (and have used in the past) HERE.
WHEW! Now that you’ve got all this information at your fingertips, you might have a better idea of what your homeschool will look like. And you’ll know which books you want to order. Prayerfully consider your budget, your children, and your schedule. Check out my post Choosing the Curriculum for some more tips.
Also be sure to click on the HOMESCHOOLING tab at the top of my page.
A Few Other Things to Consider
Don’t panic if you choose something that isn’t a good fit. If possibly, try to buy used first. If it doesn’t work out, sell it and try something different. I have been through this many times. It’s the beauty of home education! Tailoring an education to your child is incredible, and you can keep working at it until you know it’s right.
You are the Principal and the School Board
Don’t fret over calendars and hours and Scope & Sequence charts. You are now the director of your child’s education. You choose when school happens, for how long, and the order of study. Read my post Think Outside the School Year. Free yourself from the “school” mindset and just focus on learning.
Homeschooling Resources cater to a variety of worldviews, religions, and methods. When you choose to homeschool, this is one of the most important parts of the tailoring. Check into the mission statement of the companies you research. I’m a big believer in a Christian education. Since I have the freedom to choose all of my resources, I’m going to be very choosy.
It’s tempting (and easier) to do everything with an online program. However, I’ve seen how total online homeschooling programs can squelch the joy of learning. Imagine yourself sitting at a computer all day, when you’d rather pore over a book, or do a project, or write with a pencil. Online school has a place; it helps many families in times of great need or temporary situations where Mom just can’t get it all done. Single moms homeschool families definitely fall into this category. This is just my personal opinion: be careful not to put all your eggs into the online basket.
Don’t Take the Bait
You may have heard (or eventually will) that some states offer money for curriculum, or that you can get “free” programs. Remember: nothing is really free. There are major strings attached to what the state gives you, and they may be strings you will regret. This falls under the deceptive heading of School Choice, and I’ve got a comprehensive page about that HERE.
Keep up With State Laws
Each state is different, so you’ll want to stay abreast of the current laws where you live. Homeschool Legal Defense Association is a great resource for this. You can join the organization for membership benefits and legal help if needed.
If you’re in Texas, I have an entire page just for you! Check out Homeschooling in Texas HERE.
Choosing home education is an exciting thing, and you are not alone! Check out all of my homeschool posts HERE. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to message me or leave a comment below. And follow my Facebook Page for inspiration and new post alerts.
Nicki Truesdell is a 2nd-generation homeschooler and mother to 5. She loves books, freedom, history and quilts, and blogs about all of these at nickitruesdell.com. She believes that homeschooling can be relaxed and that history is fun, and both can be done with minimal cost or stress, no matter your family’s circumstances. Nicki is a member of the Texas Home Educators Advisory Board and The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew. She also teaches ESL online from home. You can also find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.