Ever wondered how to get started with homeschooling? Here’s the step-by-step plan you’ve been looking for!
1. Decide you want to homeschool, tell everyone you are going to, secretly freak out that you are making a huge mistake, then go ahead and jump in feet first. You’ve got this mama!
2. Seriously stalk the Home Education Unit website, here (this is for Queensland, Australia. If you’re not lucky enough to live here, Google your local homeschooling authority). This is the legal side of things. In Queensland you are legally required to register your children for homeschool in the year they are 6.5 or you need to have them enrolled in school. You can’t have them registered and enrolled simultaneously, so if you are taking your kids out of school to homeschool, make sure you have everything ready to send the day you cancel their enrollment. To make life easier for me, and the transition easier for my son, I waited until the end of a school term to cancel his public school enrollment and sent my paperwork to HEU during the holidays. You will need to fill out some forms, have a copy of your child’s birth certificate certified, and sign a stat dec. You will also need to provide HEU with a plan for your year ahead.
3. Drive yourself completely batty by trawling the internet for hours, joining every homeschool facebook group known to man, and reading every semi-relevant book you can get your hands on. Once you’ve decided you are now sufficiently deranged, calm down, take a breath and join Beverley Paine’s facebook group. This group is a treasure trove of knowledge. There are links to curriculum, to facebook groups, to blogs. There are also thousands of other Aussie parents on there to ask for help, bounce ideas off and to give you moral support. If you aren’t on facebook, check out Beverley’s website. Personally, I find it a little like a rabbit warren to navigate, but it is completely chockers full of useful info and is worth the time.
4. By now you probably have an idea of the type of homeschooling family you would like to be. Yes, there really is more than one way to do this! The Home Education Association has a nice overview here. (While you’re on their page, take a look around. They are a very helpful organisation who can provide you with advice, advocacy, discounts and insurance [if you need it down the track for activities like work experience]). Knowing what you want your homeschool to look like will help guide your plan. Your plan should take into account your educating philosophy as well as your child’s learning style. Now is when you spend more time writing your plan than you ever spent on a uni assignment. You will need to address your learning environment, discuss how you will provide lots of opportunities for socialisation, and outline your learning goals, resources you plan to use, activities and an idea of how you will assess progress. You can present your plan in any style you like so long as you include all of the necessary info. I’m still waiting for our plan to be approved, but word on the street is HEU is very helpful in guiding you if you missed the mark first go around. You can use the Australian curriculum as a guide, but you don’t have to. Make sure you check out all of the sample programs on HEU’s website to get an idea of what they are after.
5.Once you’ve spent sleepless nights agonising over every little detail and have finally sent off your paper work, now comes the fun part. SHOPPING! Books, stationery, manipulatives…many can be bought second hand, scavenged from around the home, borrowed from the library or found free online. This part can be as expensive or cheap as you want to make it. Personally, I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t spent quite a bit on books (my precious) and made/found/upcycled most of our manipulatives. Giving myself away as a huge nerd here, but I had so much fun arranging our first ‘homeschool bookshelf’ 😉
6. This part is scary and exciting: YOU GET TO START! HEU will send you a provisional registration letter to give your child a legal status while they are looking over your plan. They expect you to get started while this happens. Prepare for some teething issues (“But Muuuuuum, why can’t I watch tv all day?”). Veteran homeschool mums assure me that everyone has bad days. And believe me, we have had a few moments so far :-/ But more than that we have had lots of fun. We’re figuring out what works for us, meeting new people and enjoying spending time together. Seriously, is there anything better than being told by your child that homeschool is awesome because of the extra time together? I think not.
7. Join your local homeschool group. Make friends, try new activities and build your community. Try to convince all of your school mum friends that homeschool is the way to go. When they say it’s not for them, love them anyway and enjoy the playdates <3
8. In Queensland, you are required to submit a report in the 10th month of your registration each year. They require 2 samples of work from English, Maths and another subject area each year. Plan ahead and make sure you take lots of photos, keep logs and samples of work.
And that’s it! Exciting, scary, fun…
P.S. For those Aussies not in Queensland, the HEA website linked above has details on the legal side of things for all of the states and territories. Beverley’s pages have the appropriate information as well. Happy reading x