7 Tips for Making the Switch to Homeschooling
Have you considered making the switch to homeschooling but have no idea where to start?
Just two years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and it had my family questioning our educational choices. With reluctance, I made the decision to homeschool my children “until things settled down.” Little did I know that homeschooling would not only be a great fit for my family but that it would also become my passion.
I even started a homeschooling YouTube channel, The Homeschool Convert, to share my passion and experience with you!
I’m here to tell you that making the switch to homeschooling may feel overwhelming, but it’s truly manageable with the right strategy. The following tips I’m sharing here empowered my family to make the transition—and I’m certain that this list can help yours do the same!
Table of Contents:
- Define Your Priorities and Know Your Limits
- Choose Your Curriculum Wisely
- Outsource Certain Subjects to Experts
- Connect to Other Homeschooling Families
- Dig Deep Before Making Long-Term Commitments
- Go on Field Trips All the Time
- Make the Switch To Homeschooling With Confidence!
1. Define Your Priorities and Know Your Limits
When switching from traditional-style school to homeschooling, there are many elements to consider.
The most important one?
You do not have to replicate a traditional-style school in your home. Relieve yourself of this burden!
The greatest advantage of homeschooling is the autonomy and freedom you have to adapt your child’s learning-at-home style to best suit their needs while aligning with the unique demands of your family.
In other words, you define your own priorities.
Having grown up in the public school system and having initially sent my oldest child to public school, this was a huge mental shift for me to make.
I encourage you to take some time to define your family’s priorities, research methods of learning and educating, and assess the specific needs of your children along with how you can best meet those needs.
Our Homeschooling Priority To Read
For example, my two main priorities were for my children to learn together (not in isolation) and develop their reading skills. Through my research, I realized that our love for reading together could inspire a literature-based learning style that happily aligned with my belief that once you learn to read well, you can learn anything—and this mindset has since informed how we prioritize our learning time.
Explore Your State and Legal Requirements
Depending on your state and the legal requirements, the amount of freedom you have to adapt may vary, but have no doubt—you are ultimately in charge of how your homeschool functions.
You just have to know your limits.
While that may initially feel overwhelming, I encourage you to feel empowered by that! No one knows your kids better than you.
You can do this!
It’s important to understand the legal requirements of running a homeschool in your area, for several reasons:
- To ensure you follow the necessary rules and regulations.
- To properly document your child’s learning and measure their progress.
- To adequately prepare your child for any standardized tests they may have to take.
Knowing your parameters and legal requirements will help you immensely as you choose how to operate your homeschool.
2. Choose Your Curriculum Wisely
With so many options available, this is both a blessing and a curse!
As you’re deciding which curriculum to go with, consider the following questions:
- What are your homeschooling priorities?
- Which style of education resonates most with your family?
- Which needs must you meet for each child?
- Does this curriculum fulfill legal requirements in your area?
Do Yourself a Favor: Read the Reviews!
My favorite way to compare different curricula options is to read or watch reviews by those who’ve tried it.
To this end, I usually go to YouTube to see what other parents are saying about their curriculum experience and whether or not it worked for their families. And while hearing about a firsthand experience can be super helpful, it’s important to remember that what works wonderfully for one family may not work for yours.
The most important aspects of the reviews include:
- learning of new options and where to find them online
- clarifying details on what to expect
- getting access to free samples to download
My advice? Take advantage of the free downloads! You’ll get a solid idea of the curriculum’s structure and can more easily decide whether or not it will serve your family.
Don’t Do What I Did: Buyer’s Remorse!
When I first started homeschooling, the biggest mistake I made was getting over-excited about the curriculum. I definitely over-purchased! I would see a great deal on Facebook Marketplace for something I heard good things about, and I would excitedly purchase just about anything that caught my interest.
While I ended up having an incredible amount of fantastic resources, I didn’t actually have the time to use it all!
I have since learned the art of editing—sometimes simpler is better.
My Ultimate Advice: Take It Slow and Easy
When you’re initially getting into homeschooling, it’s easy to want to do “all the things”—and even still, I find myself thinking, “There are so many wonderful things out there! How can I possibly choose?”
But at the end of the day, it is our job to choose.
The fact is, we can’t do it all, and our kids don’t need to do it all. Unless your ultimate goal is to have everyone in your house suffering from severe burnout.
Instead, take it slow and take your time. Enjoy perusing secondhand shops for more frugal resources, take advantage of sales, and control the impulse you may have to over-purchase.
The best way to do this is to make a list of what you’re looking for, keep track of your purchases, and remind yourself that you don’t have to build a herculean homeschooling collection from day one.
Ultimately, your preferences and education style is likely to change over time, so starting off with a few simple but essential resources will help you work through the kinks and transitions to come.
Or would you rather spend that time trying to “fit it all in”?
Didn’t think so!
3. Outsource Certain Subjects to Experts
Do you happen to be fluent in Spanish? Or know how to teach calculus? Or have a degree in physics?
The thing about homeschooling is you don’t have to be an expert in all the subjects—you can simply outsource to an expert!
After our first year of homeschooling, my high school-aged niece came to live with my family. She’d never been homeschooled before, and there were certain subjects for which I felt she needed a more informed instructor.
The big one was Spanish.
Thankfully, Homeschool Spanish Academy has been a wonderful option for my niece to earn her foreign language credits. While I have some Spanish-language knowledge, the experience she’s getting from communicating with and learning from a native speaker is so much richer than the experience I could provide her.
I love that she has been able to grow her Spanish skills in this way—and she’s actually becoming fluent. It’s so cool that my niece is able to learn in the comfort of our home from a Spanish teacher based in Guatemala!
There are numerous options for outsourcing, so if you feel you are lacking the strength in a certain area to teach it well, take heart! Homeschooling is still a viable option thanks to all the resources available in today’s day and age.
4. Connect to Other Homeschooling Families
While the curriculum is important, there is so much more to homeschooling than what’s happening at home.
By connecting with like-minded people who can walk alongside you on this journey of home education, you establish a fountain of encouragement—which, you’ll soon discover, is priceless in moments of doubt or exhaustion.
But how can you connect with other homeschooling families?
Many families choose to participate in an educational co-op, and there are also extracurricular activities designed specifically for homeschoolers.
We’ve enjoyed connecting with others through nature groups, such as Wild + Free, and there are also homeschooling groups that meet solely for fellowship and building friendships through playdates and get-togethers.
There are countless opportunities!
Search your local groups on Facebook as an easy place to start.
5. Dig Deep Before Making Long-Term Commitments
Before you sign up for an extended commitment (especially something that costs money), do plenty of research to prove to yourself that it’ll be a good fit for your family. In fact, be a skeptic—and look at every option with a deeply critical eye.
Otherwise, you’ll do what I did and pay (a lot) for a whole year subscription to something that simply did not work out for us.
That was definitely a learning opportunity!
Luckily, many co-ops and organizations offer visitor or trial days, which you’ll want to take full advantage of before making any long-term commitments.
The fact is, you can homeschool successfully without paying to be part of any formal organization. While they may be beneficial for some families, there are many free and equally-enriching opportunities for homeschoolers that don’t break the bank.
The takeaway here? Do what works for your family both functionally and financially.
6. Go on Field Trips All the Time
In our house, when we learn about a certain animal or habitat, we love to visit the zoo or aquarium to see it in person. When we learn about fine arts, we attend plays and musicals together.
Of all the homeschool experiences we have, my kids’ favorite is the field trips!
A rich education is one rooted in experience—and as a homeschooling parent, you have the unique opportunity to share experiences with your children that they’d likely not have access to in a traditional school setting.
There are so many ways to make a field trip; it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Some of my favorite ideas include:
- Being outside in nature
- Learning how to grocery shop
- Serving at the local church’s food pantry
- Learning to budget and shop for project supplies
It’s become clear to me that the experiences we have outside the home are just as valuable as the lessons we learn inside the home.
And I can attest to the fact that these experiences are molding my kids into wonderful, well-rounded human beings. In fact, I think they’ll be better equipped to enter the world as adults one day because of these experiences!
Do yourself a favor and do not underestimate the educational power of these out-of-home field trips that align with what you’re covering in your own homeschool. You’ll be amazed by the rewards you and your child will reap!
7. Make the Switch To Homeschooling With Confidence!
Homeschooling has truly been such a gift to my family. I am so thankful for the time we have gained together—for the cultivation of deeper relationships and the opportunity to learn alongside my children.
Making the switch to homeschooling took a leap of faith, but it is one that I am so thankful we took. If you are considering home education, I hope these practical tips will help your family make the transition. I am confident it is a decision your family will not regret!
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