Almost daily on at last one of the home school groups I am on someone wants to know how to start homeschooling. The number of families joining this community is growing daily but it can be overwhelming in the beginning. I know it was for me and I spent a few months not really knowing where to start and the amount of information available was useful but also over-whelming because some of it was conflicting.
I waded through a lot of information and asked a lot of questions and then we just started.
So how do you start home schooling?
The best advice is to just start and figure your way out along the way but that isn’t very practical and sometimes just starting isn’t that simple.
Let’s start at the beginning. You know you want to home school, what is the next step?
For me it was figuring out how we were going to do it. Were we going to follow a boxed curriculum, was that curriculum going to be CAPS, Cambridge or something else. You may also be drawn to un-schooling
I have written a post on why we decided not to follow a set curriculum.
I knew I wanted to teach the kids, I didn’t want to move them to a smaller school, I wanted to be involved. But this is not always possible so you may want to consider a small cottage school in your area.
Whatever you settle on, I think this step is really important because it provides you with some direction and structure – even if that is path is something like un-schooling that has no structure.
Once I had made this decision it became easier. I bought Kiara the books she needed and then started researching appropriate activities and work for Jack and Emma.
I also read a lot of home schooling blogs about what their day looked like and how moms juggled work and home school. This was a fun exercise because it highlighted just how different the journey is for everyone. Some families have strict schedules and routines, some are more relaxed and others go where the day leads them.
Then I sat down and wrote down what I wanted our day to look like. I personally need structure but with a lot of flexibility. We have our block time of school in the morning, that is non-negotiable but what we do in that time changes depending on the day, how focused the kids are and what I am in the mood for.
If you have more than one child or if you will be working and homeschooling, writing down how you see your day going is so important. It helped me to figure out how I was going to manage everything and helped to create a routine for us.
There are a few practicalities when it comes to home schooling. Do you register, how do you register etc. The short answer is that in South Africa it is the law to register your child with the Department of Education. If you do this you have to teach your child the CAPS curriculum*. If you do not want to register please check out the Pestalozzi Trust for more information on this. They will answer all your questions but don’t put off doing you research about this.
The final step is to set up a space in your home where you are going to learn. This does not have to be a separate room but rather just a space where you can all sit and learn.
If you have smaller kids, a space to play is all you will need. With older kids you will need them to sit down, so you will need a table and chair set up somewhere in your home. We use our large 8-seater square dinning room able. It is big enough for us to spread out maps and books and crafts and just get messy if we need to. Kiara has set up a desk for herself in the toy room. She is away from where the younger two and I sit so she is able to focus and get her work done.
It is so easy to get lost in trying to create the perfect space but in reality all you need is a table, some stationery and the right attitude.
Starting is not as a hard as you may think. . I have changed a lot of things during our 2 months of home schooling so far but this is how we started.
A recap of how to start home schooling
Step One: Figure out a style – this includes your curriculum etc, are you going to do it yourself or maybe look at a cottage school.
Step Two: Plan what your day will look like. This is unique to every family, there is no right answer.
Step Three: Deal with the practicalities, know your rights when it comes to registering etc.
Step Four: Create a space in your home dedicated to learning.
Step Five: Just start and have fun.
Remember to have fun!
It is not as hard as you may think to start. If you are taking children out of school to home school, de-school for a few months. Let your kids unwind, relax and be a kid for a while. I should have done this with Jack, I think it would have made it a bit easier for him.
I have created a FREE printable for you to download to add to your home school space. Download it here.
If you are considering starting home schooling, join this Facebook group. Bonny runs regular chats with home school parents that I have found incredibly informative.
This is also a very helpful Facebook group if you are wanting to start up.