How to Prepare for Your First Year of Homeschooling

By August 9, 2017Blog

Homeschooling is an exciting experience for children and their families. Parents are often full of joy and excitement when they decide to homeschool their children. They are ready to give their children the most personalized learning experience possible. However, it’s normal for parents to feel nervous or anxious about their first year of homeschooling. They’ve set several goals for their first year of homeschooling, they have countless questions, and they’re not quite sure how they’re going to make it all happen.

Here are a few simple tips to help new homeschoolers prepare for their first year of homeschooling:

Plan Ahead
It’s no secret that homeschooling can be overwhelming for first-timers. Often, planning ahead can help new homeschooling parents avoid feeling overwhelmed and, instead, create a smoother learning experience for their children. Planning usually helps create a more productive and successful school day.

Before the first day of school, new homeschooling parents should research several curriculum options. There are an endless amount of curriculum choices for homeschooling families. Compass Charter Schools (CCS) has a team of Educational Facilitators (EF) to help families in the homeschooling program sort through curriculum options and make the right choice for their children. Once parents choose the right curriculum for their first year of homeschooling, they can start to plan for the weeks that lie ahead.

Using the curriculum they choose, parents can map out the school year so they have a general idea of what they are doing each week. Then details can be added as the weeks approach. Planning ahead allows parents to gather all of the necessary materials like copies of worksheets, science lab materials, and more for the upcoming school weeks. Having teaching materials ready in advance can reduce stress and create a smoother learning experience for children.

Expect the Unexpected
It’s important for new homeschooling parents to know that, despite their best efforts, life happens while homeschooling. Yes, planning is an essential part of successful homeschooling. However, life doesn’t always go according to plan, and that’s perfectly fine. Parents learn a lot during their first year of homeschooling. As they learn, they will change and adapt their goals, schedule, teaching style, even their curriculum, to best meet their children’s needs.

Flexibility is key for homeschooling families! I recommend that first-time homeschoolers — especially those with young children — use their curriculum as a guide rather than a rule book. When unexpected circumstances come about, just remember to take a deep breath and know that everything will happen the way it’s meant to be.

Keep It Simple
New homeschooling parents often feel anxious and excited as they prepare for the first day of school. They’ve done their research, selected a curriculum, and saved countless articles with advice on how to get organized for the school year. Sometimes all of this excitement and preparation can create processes that are more complicated than necessary. While it is essential that homeschooling parents stay organized, it’s important that they avoid creating complicated processes. I encourage new homeschooling families to use a simple grading system and a low-maintenance filing system for organized record keeping.

Simple processes allow homeschooling families to focus on what’s truly important. Try to avoid letting your homeschool strategy become so strict that you forget to appreciate the precious little moments with your children. I encourage parents to have fun learning with their children, and to enjoy each curriculum topic by taking a deeper dive into each subject.

Make Connections
It’s critical that new homeschooling parents get support from homeschool veterans. Many homeschoolers will agree, no one quite understands the challenges of homeschooling like other homeschoolers. I recommend new homeschooling families join local or online homeschooling communities where they can ask questions and receive advice from other homeschoolers. Don’t be intimidated. It’s acceptable to ask a homeschool veteran that you may not know very well for help or advice. Eventually, you will face challenges that are unique to homeschooling. It’s important to seek help and support during those challenging times to avoid frustration and self doubt. Bonding with other homeschooling families helps parents feel less alone during their homeschooling experience. Having said that, though, sometimes the amount of advice can get overwhelming. Take and use what feels right to you and pass on advice that doesn’t.

Connecting with homeschooling families also allows children to build relationships with other homeschoolers. Bonding with other homeschooling families encourages children to make friends and connect with others who understand their unique educational experience. Just like their parents, homeschooled children need a sense of community and support.

Establish Good Record Keeping
Most homeschoolers are required by law to provide samples of their children’s school work. It’s critical that new homeschooling parents take these requirements seriously and develop a reliable system for record keeping. I suggest that new homeschoolers review the state requirements with their EF. Then it’s time to create a consistent filing system at home.

Many independent study programs like CCS help homeschooling families submit their child’s work samples and stay organized. Every homeschooling parent will create a unique system that works best for them. However, many homeschool veterans will agree that it’s typically best to sort through your child’s completed work on a consistent, frequent basis. It’s important to avoid falling too far behind on sorting through school work because eventually you will have a large mountain of paperwork. Creating a regular routine can help homeschooling parents stay more organized and meet state requirements with far less stress.

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Kristy Smith is the Options Learning Manager for CCS and oversees the Options (homeschool) program. She has experience teaching all levels of high school, including math for ten years and Spanish for nine years before becoming an EF with Compass. She is also going into her 5th year of homeschooling, with  a scholar in elementary school, middle school, and high school.

Compass Charter Schools (CCS) is a WASC-accredited virtual public charter school. CCS offers two flexible academic programs for scholars across California. Interested in learning more about CCS’ homeschooling program? Explore our website, or contact our enrollment team at enrollment@compasscharters.org or (877) 506-8631.

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