Preparing to Homeschool?
5 Important Steps
You'd really like to teach your children at home.
Here are some basic things to do when preparing to homeschool that will help to get things going on the right foot:
- Preparing your marriage for homeschool. Be in harmony with your husband. For the purposes of this article, I am going to assume that you and your husband are of one mind when it comes to home education.
If this is not the case. Please wait to start your school and pray until one of you can come to the other's point of view.
It will not work to homeschool your children without your husband's support - at least not in the long run.
If your mate is supportive then you are ready to begin preparing to homeschool. Try to include him as much as he wants to be included. Maybe he would be willing to teach some math, science, or auto mechanics, on the weekends or during an evening or two.
Take the time to communicate your successes, frustrations, and prayer requests to him. Always keep him in the loop. Ask for his verbal support for you before the children - establishing you as their teacher. Include him in any major decisions about curriculum, discipline problems, field trips, etc. Submit to his guidance and leadership as much as he is willing to give it.
- Preparing yourself to homeschool. Look through the curriculum catalogs and websites. Talk to other moms. Join a support group. Browse the web. Read the curriculum reviews on this site. Check out the The Homeschool Companion's helpful articles on choosing curriculum too.
When your materials arrive, especially read through the author's notes to parents/teachers. Go through a lesson or two to learn how they are structured and prepare yourself to teach. What supplies will you need? A notebook for each child perhaps, or a calculator, or dictionary?
Do you want to add anything to the material covered such as a discussion time, a library book, or extra review?
You may want to prepare a teacher's notebook... to keep track of your homeschooling ideas. You could have a page or two for notes on each curriculum you've chosen to use.
Many moms I know use Post-it tabs or slips of paper to mark where they are in each teacher's manual or textbook or to note things they will want to refer back to during the school year. You will develop your own system that works well for you. It just takes a little time...
Now prepare a Homeschool Year Lesson Plan. It's purpose is to schedule what subjects will be done when. It is not written in concrete. It can be changed. But it gives you a starting point and a general direction for your planning.
Depending on how many children you have, you may just want to use a simple grid with days of the week across the top, times of the day down the side, and subjects in the squares. It's just an overview of how your school days will look.
Let's say it's Monday...your 9 am square might look something like this... the letters in parentheses stand for a student's name:
That's it! Nothing complicated...
You will develop your own system, but you get the idea. See the link further down for organizers that are published and ready to buy.
Getting things prepared ahead saves time...not only is your time wasted when you aren't ready to teach, but if you aren't prepared, your children may lose enthusiasm and interest and find something disruptive to do while you are distracted with trying to get ready...
Disorganization may also communicate that school isn't that important to you - so they needn't think it's important either. Therefore, be as prepared as possible to teach and make a good effort to start on time.
Please understand, I know that especially with multiple children things don't always go as planned...and flexibility is important, but you should definitely try to have a plan in place that you can be flexible from! :)
- Preparing your Homeschool Weekly Lesson Plan. No, you won't always be 100% on top of what you want to teach on a given day, but it will be very helpful to set aside a time - preferably once a week (I used to try to do it on Sunday evenings) to fill out a basic day by day lesson plan for each child.
Before homeschool even starts, take the time to set up a blank master grid on paper and make copies (or do it on the computer) then staying on top of this doesn't take long because you'll usually just be filling in the next lesson number or pages in each subject.
Your Monday morning for Matthew, your 5th grader, may look something like this... just to give you a rough idea:
8:30 - Hands On Geography
(read pp. 65-67; color map)
9:15 - Natural Speller
(work on using missed
words in sentences)
10:00 - Snack Break
10:15 - Saxon Math 5/4
(Lesson 22; even
11:00 - Watch Moody Science
11:45 - Help set table for
You could possibly put subjects across the top and time down the side with lesson #s or topics in the squares. Having a plan helps you to stay on schedule and as each lesson is completed, you can check it off (or let your students check it off or put a small sticker by it). When the school year is over, you will have a complete record for each child!
If you don't like to be this structured...try keeping a journal...a general overview of what you did in school that day...you can record the inevitable trials and the unexpected triumphs and any humor that may have surfaced and made your day that much more memorable.
Use this link to find ready-made planners:
Find Homeschool Organizers at Christian Book.com
- Preparing your school area. Most families find that having a specific place where they do their schoolwork, helps them have the discipline to stay on track.
In some families everyone sits around a table, in others an entire room is dedicated to school. Some older children prefer to have their own study area - maybe in their bedroom - and that is just fine as long as they are completing their assignments on time.
I homeschooled with health issues, so when I was feeling well, we used a table, a mounted whiteboard, a nearby bookcase of reference - type books, a plastic stand of drawers for supplies, wall maps, and the computer to do our lessons. When I wasn't feeling so well, we homeschooled on my bed with a lap-sized whiteboard and Jenny brought what we needed to me there.
Here is a short list of supplies any home classroom should have on hand:
- a wall-mounted and a lap-sized whiteboard, eraser, and markers
- pencils, sharpeners, eraser tips, pens
- ruler with centimeters, stapler, staples, 3-hole punch, scotch tape
- paper clips, scissors, highlighters, glue sticks
- calculator, math compass
- report folders, 3-ring binders, divider tabs, post-its
- and paper - lots of paper (lined, copypaper, construction paper, cardstock, graph paper).
- a good dictionary, thesaurus, and atlas
- a library card and internet connection when possible
Be sure your computer has ink, and paper, and when possible turn on the answering machine and set your cell phone to voice mail. When weather allows, never rule out the outdoors as a wonderful place to have school!
- Preparing your children for homeschool. Before you even start homeschooling, you and your husband will want to have at least one talk with your children about why you are choosing to teach them at home.
Hopefully, your enthusiasm will be contagious, and they will be look forward to preparing to homeschool with you... Emphasize the plusses. Will you go on field trips, have days off, learn things that interest them? Brainstorm together about the possibilities.
Give them a chance to voice any opinions or preconceived notions they may have about homeschooling. By working through issues ahead of time, you can save untold grief later on.
Let them know what you expect of them...what are the rules for your school? Let them help make the rules when possible. What are the penalties for disobeying the rules? Are there any rewards for obeying? For younger children, you can make a chart showing rules, penalties, and rewards and use it when discipline is necessary.
Let them help by preparing the homeschool area. Try to instill a sense of ownership in them for your school. After all, it will be unique...no other family will have a school just like yours.
Deciding to teach your children is the beginning of a wonderful adventure for your family. Being prepared to homeschool helps to ensure that the adventure doesn't become an exercise in frustration.
Do you have ideas and tips to help families that are preparing to homeschool get off to a smooth start? Please consider sharing your experience using the form below! Some mom somewhere will thank you!
Return from Preparing to Homeschool to Home Page