How to Get Started
Allow time to get started: Obviously it takes time to research anything new, but home education is so different from conventional schooling, that it takes extra time to assimilate all the new concepts and ideas. Most of us have only ever known and had experience of conventional school, so all our thoughts on education are within that framework. For home education we need to establish a new framework for our thoughts - the home. Allow yourself time for research as well as this mental preparation.
Read and research: The first practical step toward home educating is to read up on the subject. Read the articles and FAQs on this website and visit other websites too. See Recommended books on home education. If you belong to the Pestalozzi Trust, you have access to their library. You may also be able to borrow from other home educators, but it is worthwhile to invest in one or two books of your own. Research includes talking to families that already have experience of home schooling, making inquiries from curriculum suppliers and attending workshops and information meetings. Your local homeschool association may also have information days. See the support section of Resources for the home educator.
Your research will at least give you a basic knowledge of what you are letting yourself in for. You will also see the ‘big picture’ of home education, obtaining insight into how home education works. Your eyes will be opened to the opportunities and possibilities available to you as home educator.
Think some more: When your physical research is complete, it is time to weigh up all the pros and cons. Take into account the personal as well as financial costs. Filter all that you have learnt through your own values and needs.
Set goals: It is always a good idea to know where you are going to. You may never feel you have achieved anything if you did not decide what you wanted to achieve in the first place. Set goals for every aspect of your children’s lives, not just the academics. Include spiritual, moral, academic, physical, social and service goals both for your children and your family as a whole. Firstly decide on what you wish to achieve in the long run and then decide on what part of these goals to start working on.
These aims are important because they will guide you to choose a curriculum correctly. If you simply go ahead and choose a curriculum, the tendency is to become a slave to it - in the absence of any other framework, completing the curriculum becomes the goal. If you choose a curriculum according to your planned goals, then the curriculum is a tool in your hands to reach those goals, which is as it should be. You can then bend and stretch the curriculum to suit you; add stuff in, leave stuff out according to what you need.
Make decisions: Once you have decided that home education is the right choice for your family, decide on the tools you will need to tackle the job successfully. Before deciding on the curriculum (or combinations of curricula) that best suits your family, you may wish to decide on what style of education you would like to embrace; go to the Approaches section for more detail. There is no need to go with one particular style; a combination of styles may suit your family best.
See the Resources section of this website for a list of curriculum suppliers. Visit other home ed sites too as my list may nor be complete. Phone or email a few suppliers that interest you, asking for details such as costs, what service they offer, what books are included in the price, what subjects they have available for you and anything else you can think of that is pertinent to your situation. It is not necessary to buy a set curriculum. You are a liberty to source a variety of books and courses from different suppliers and put your own programme together.
Decide what could be added to your home references: good dictionaries or an atlas. Look out for good reference books at bargain prices. Make allowances for stationery and art materials; possibly you may even need to invest in bookcases, desks and a good reading lamps.
Find support: We all at some stage need the encouragement and support of others. Consider joining your regional homeschool association and a local support group. For some, meeting with a friend may be all the support they need.
Get organized: Both your time and space need to be organized. De-clutter your house to make way for new books and materials, projects and “works of art”. This tidy-up is particularly difficult if you are a hoarder! Generally speaking, if you have not used something in the two past years, you are not likely to use it again. Get rid of it. It may be worth having a garage sale. Next, organize your time. Decide on a daily routine: it is better to have a lesson plan and schedule that is flexible than no plan at all.
Stay organized: Staying organized requires the co-operation of your family. Family teamwork is important for two reasons: the children learn to be helpful and co-operative and you don’t collapse under the burden of doing everything yourself. Sometimes it may be quicker to just do the job yourself - make sure that sometimes doesn’t become all the time! Establishing regular habits helps us to stay organized, saves time and minimizes stress. These habits should include personal hygiene and grooming, initiative and thoroughness with chores, courteous speech and behaviour, attention to and concentration on studies.