I've answered countless emails since August from moms who are interested in homeschooling. It is both exciting and upsetting. Exciting because sometimes there is a blessing in an unexpected hurdle. And upsetting because the reason is the dreaded Common Core State Standards Initiative.
I wanted to put my beginner advice in one place because, well...honestly I've typed it SO many times that I realized I should type it out and save it someplace where everyone can see it.
So first...let me tell you...TAKE THE LEAP! This isn't like sky diving...although I know it can be just as scary for some. But I promise...there are so many parachutes to deploy that, honestly, I think you'd have to try to fail. I'll say it like I've said it many times: Failure just is not an option. I can fail at laundry or on my diet, but I can't fail with my kids' education.
I'm not saying it isn't hard work. It absolutely is not easy or stress free. But...oh my...it is so rewarding and, in my opinion, WAY less stressful than dealing with homework and a typical "school schedule".
Without making things too long I'll just highlight some of the best parts of homeschooling. My kids get enough sleep. This is so important to their overall growth and health. And speaking of health, they rarely get "sick." Our family time is so special and never riddled with the stresses of school. Field trips! My kids love to learn on field trips and they get to spend so much time with their friends. Friends...YES we have FRIENDS! LOL Finally, it is a matter of opinion, I guess...but my kids are brilliant and I know it. I know it because I get to see the "aha moments"! :)
Okay...now I've pushed you over the edge. You are ready to do it. Now what??
1. RELAX...you do not have to have your entire K-12 education in the next 2 days! You have time. Most kids even need a little "de-programming" time. When I started I wasn't comfortable with taking months off for that, but some do. And, in hindsight, I feel I could have and it may have been a good thing. We took just a few weeks and did just a little work during that time. I took my time to get organized with curriculum.
2. da da daaaaa...I said it...CURRICULUM! This is probably the MOST overwhelming part of the start up process. It was overwhelming for me again this year because I decided to change everything! But...if you read nothing else here is my best and biggest advice: Do NOT attempt to look at all curriculum by surfing the Internet. Talk to people you relate with who homeschool (this may be friends or people in a Facebook group). Find out their favorites and make a short list. Then go from there. If you try to sift through the literally hundreds of options you will drive yourself mad! And, by the way, there is a great way to find out if a curriculum has been aligned in any way to the CCSSI. A woman named Tina Hollenbeck has put forth a ton of effort and continues to do so. Her goal is finding where companies stand with the CCSSI. You can find that information here: http://www.hsroadmap.org/common-core-project/
And on the curriculum subject...please remember that you aren't buying a house. This is a curriculum. If it doesn't work for you and/or your child there are ways to remedy the problem. One way is to get creative and find what works and what doesn't and then change what doesn't work. Another way is to find something else to use and resell the one that didn't work. This is another reason to go with well known curriculum ~ they resell well. I buy nearly everything pre-owned.
3. Take it slow with your new life. You don't have to jump into a co-op or other weekly commitments right away. I promise after one semester you'll be craving the change of pace and want to get more active in your homeschool community. But for now there is nothing wrong with just focusing on your family and getting used to having the kids home. Let your kids get used to each other. Read books together. Find moments to learn that are organic and fun. When it comes to curriculum add one at a time to your daily schedule.
Finally, remember this...you are doing what is best for your children and your family. The CCSSI is a REAL problem. Homeschooling is the option that can fix it for now while we work together to fix education in our local communities. By homeschooling you are taking your parental control BACK from the government. You are ensuring that your kids aren't victims of a crazy experiment. And isn't it wonderful that we still have the freedom to choose homeschooling?
Hopefully, if enough people choose to homeschool in response to the government over reach we'll send a message. Currently the statistic is somewhere around 3.7% of children are being homeschooled. I think we will reach 10% within a couple of years. That would be a group of election changing voters. :) My prayer is that we can band together (homeschoolers and school parents who are anti-CCSSI) and protect all of our freedoms to parent our children the way we want. Education is the responsibility of parents...not the government.
Hope this helps! For more information from LOTS of awesome moms and dads come join the group on Facebook named "Crossing Over To Homeschool". There are veteran homeschoolers and many who are very knowledgeable about the CCSSI.