A Checklist to Get Your Homeschool Started
Creating a checklist to get your homeschool started is a great idea. This article provides a checklist to help you cover the major elements of preparing to homeschool such as curriculum, homeschooling laws, methods, lesson plans, and more.
You can use this homeschool checklist to help make sure you have covered the major areas as you prepare to homeschool.• Clarify Homeschool Goals/Intentions
It’s often a good idea to begin a project or enterprise by capturing the goals and mission in words. This can serve as a guide for decision making. Part of the overarching picture is the budget available to carry out your plans to homeschool, and it is useful to figure this out early in order to guide your decision-making along the way.
• Research Homeschool Legal Requirements
Since these are the parameters under which you have to carry out your goals of starting a homeschool, it’s good to know them early. If necessary, modify your goals/intentions to accommodate requirements.
• Define Homeschool Curriculum
Knowing the legal requirements will help you choose or develop an appropriate curriculum and let you know if specific materials are required for homeschooling.
• Define Homeschool Method(s)/Approach(es)
This may be implicit in your goals/intentions, tie closely to the curriculum you have chosen, or require its own separate stage of development and may also help you establish requirements for materials for your homeschool.
• Choose Homeschool Assessment (if applicable)
If assessment is one of the legal requirements, or something you wish to put in place (for example, for college admissions), you may wish to research, clarify the options available, and figure the cost into your budget of having an assessment done for your homeschooled child, if necessary.
• Seek Homeschool Personnel Support
You should now have a good idea about whether you need to provide for areas in which you are not qualified/don’t have equipment, such as advanced subject matter or laboratory courses or athletics, and you can seek cooperation with other homeschoolers, part-time school attendance, or other means to meet the needs you perceive.
• Completing Homeschool Approval
Documents If your homeschool or program needs state approval, completing and documenting the above steps will likely be of help in meeting the documentation requirements.
• Developing a Homeschool Schedule
With your program of study established, you can now finalize a schedule that plans when, where, and for how long classes will meet and on what days, or for unschooling, the time during which you are available to support your child’s explorations. If you are using an established curriculum or distance learning program for your homeschool, your decisions on schedule may be guided by parameters from those sources.
• Choosing or Making Homeschool Lesson Plans
If you are developing your own lesson plans, or have some choice, with your program and a schedule in place, you can now go ahead with that process.
• Establishing a Space for Your Homeschool
A consistent space for schooling can be important in terms of organization - both for storage, and for ensuring adequate light, seating, and noise-control for an educational environment, as well as access to any technology, such as a computer, or other necessary equipment. While some people may have an extra room, others gather at the kitchen table, and others use the living room or den. Depending on your approach, your curriculum, and the age and needs of your student(s), you may find that education goes on in various places depending on subject matter, including the kitchen and outdoors.
• Finding Textbooks and Other Materials for Your Homeschool
- Share materials - It may surprise you to learn that the highest percentage of homeschool curriculum and books are found through the public library. Don’t forget the benefits of interlibrary loan, which allows you to borrow material from other libraries in your state and across the country from your “home library.” Homeschool organizations may also have lending libraries of books and materials, as may religious organizations.
Schools may also surprise you as a source of homeschool textbooks and curriculum, but both public and private schools have been known to share extra materials with homeschooling families. In fact, a law introduced in the Mississippi legislature in 2006 requires that surplus public school textbooks to be loaned to homeschoolers as well as allows homeschool students to use public school libraries.
- Used materials - Finding used materials is another valuable approach for keeping textbooks costs down. If you belong to a homeschool support group, perhaps this is (or you could suggest that it be) part of the group’s mission.
• Stocking Supplies for Your Homeschool
Writing paper, pens, rulers, calculator, protractor, highlighters, sticky notes, printer paper, toner, art supplies, staples, paper clips, calendar, record-keeping notebook, etc., remembering to make a list of these items, updating the list as you make or choose lesson plans, and including them in your planning can avoid budget surprises and last minute trips to the store to enable your homeschool lessons to be carried out.
- hslda.org/Legislation/State/ms/2006/MSHB308/default.asp - law to make public school share materials
Written by Mary Elizabeth