It really is that important. If you live in Texas, your first steps into the homeschooling world will look very different than if you live in Connecticut or New York. Some states simply do not trust parents to look after their child's education. (Insert an eye roll emoji. A big one.) If you don't know where to find your state laws, I've got you covered! Start HERE.
After you check that legality box, your thoughts will turn to curriculum. BUT WAIT!
Which subjects do you plan to teach?
Take a moment for a bit of introspection here. There is a great tendency for first time homeschoolers to try to eat the entire cake at once. Walking around the internet without a plan, parents end up with a cart $2K deep and grand intentions to master Mandarin before Christmas.
Yup. Pick 3. (Unless you are legally required to jump through more hoops... if so, consider moving? Joking... A little.) If you could only teach three subjects, what would those be? Intentionally teach those three.
I hear protesting in the back... "But art! Violin lessons! Spanish class! Gymnastics! Horseback riding! Gardening class! Cooking 101! Trust me, Mama. Unless your child is older than 12, pick 3. Consider this- Do you ever start to read a blog article and half way through think, "Yeah, I got all I needed from this." as you click out of the page? Your children will do the same to you. Every minute of homeschool life after your children have reached that point will be... unpleasant.
Hold on! Don't buy curriculum yet.
Here is your second pause for introspection. Which style suits your family best when it comes to how you time and approach the lessons?
Many families schedule their time. On a blackboard somewhere, or taped to the fridge is a cute schedule that reminds the children math lessons begin at 8:30 and end at 9:15. While experienced homeschool moms may give you a hard time for this "public school at home" approach, don't let them shame you into changing your game. Some families NEED the structure this schedule provides.
Many families schedule order of events. Their blackboards read something like, "math, break, science, snack, reading, lunch, play". These visual cues help children direct their executive functions into a productive morning.
Many families do not have a blackboard at all. These families schedule quantity of work. This is the style my own kiddos prefer. Before lunch (if it seems they are running out of time) I ask my kiddos, "Have you done your morning jobs yet?" Around 3:30 I ask again, "Have you completed your afternoon jobs yet?" I do not care so much whether they spend all day reading, or completing science experiments. As long as they chose work (2 jobs in the morning and 2 in the afternoon) and accomplished that work to the best of their ability, we consider the day a success.
What works best for your crew will be unique and special because the personalities involved are unique and special!!
There is a second element in this approach conversation. How direct does your family's instruction need to be? Do you plan to be your child's teacher or your child's collaborator? Many moms sit at the front of the class to teach. Many dads have a style that sounds like, "Go work with your materials and come see me if you have a question." Both are valid approaches as long as they take your child's needs into consideration.
Only after you have decided how hands-on you plan to be during lessons, and which subjects are non-debatable, should you step into a curriculum store.
Enrich the rest of the day.
Here is your last introspection pause, and it is the most significant! What will enrichment look like for the rest of your day? It may be influenced by you, but it shouldn't be chosen by you. Enrichment time is the time your children own, and the younger your child, the more likely this time will look like recess. If it looks 100% like recess when your child is 6, that is okay. In fact, that is perfectly, wonderfully, developmentally appropriate.
Your child is a fabulous gift from God who has a purpose all their own. Their self-actualization process is a path you can not walk for them! The enrichment portion of the day exists to remind both of you that the responsibility for living life resides in the person doing the living.
Developing growth mindset as a family culture is key here! How you spend YOUR enrichment time influences how your children will spend their enrichment time. While I am not one to swing the "no screens" hammer, I am here to remind you that life is only a series of moments lived. Does every non-teaching moment of your day involve your phone? If so, you are spending life scrolling. If you want your children to live life intentionally, it helps to model that lifestyle.
When the "proper schooling" moments are done for the day, what do you do? How do you care for your home? How do you care for your body? How do you care for your mind? How do you live?
Let your children "help" you cook. Let them get excited about a walk down to the creek together. Let them design a business and brain storm strategies on the table next to you as you work on your own. Let them see you curled up on the coach with a book. Let them hear you singing in the vegetable garden. Let them laugh as you butcher the latest Taylor Swift album on a used guitar. Let them join your workout with child sized dumbbells. These patterns of life are the real meat and potatoes of existence. If you steal this space from your child with over zealous attempts and over scheduled days, you and your child will miss all the best memories.
At the end of the day, homeschool is just the combination of joyfully living life and intentional instruction. It really is that simple. So check out your state laws, pick a bit of curriculum, and go!
You can do this,
Buckets & Berries