Getting Started in Homeschooling: Tools to Use

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Navigating the waters of homeschooling can be complicated. Not only is there dangerous weather to avoid, but there’s also much good to see and do. There are so many ports and so many islets to visit. You can’t do them all, so you just have to choose.

Last week we talked about building your academic calendar. It’s one of the things that you need to steer your course throughout this adventure. Let’s review the navigational tools we’ve discussed so far in this series on Getting Started in Homeschooling:

There are a few more things to consider as you get your homeschool going.

1. Good Record Keeping

With your state’s laws in mind, set yourself up for easy record keeping. I put together a school binder every year in which I store our calendar, course outlines, attendance records, daily lesson plans, and assessment scores. In keeping with what that lawyer told me so many years ago, I make sure that I have these basics at my fingertips.

(I created my own forms on the computer — and have made them available to you in the Homeschool Add-On pack.)

I also set up a holding file for each kid so that I can save specimens of their work throughout the year. I store these in accordion paper pockets. At the end of the year we have a great record of their progress — and the makings of a portfolio should we feel so motivated.

For those who want a thorough grade-keeping program, download this free gradebook from FiveJs.

2. A Meal Plan

You cannot school effectively on an empty tank. Make sure you’ve thought through easy meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Trust me when I say the days will be packed. So, make sure you’re fueling the teachers and students at your school with healthy as well as convenient meals.

Make homeschooling and food a happy partnership.

3. Regular Breaks for Fun

All work and no play makes Jack — and Jill — dull kids. Make sure that you’re scheduling regular breaks throughout the day and week. School shouldn’t be boring. Get outside, explore nature, and breathe fresh air. Find ways to learn about the great world outside.

4. A Library Card

Regular trips to the library and the free books they afford are indispensable to the homeschooling family. Make sure that you have a card and that book-borrowing privileges are in effect. You will save a ton of money — and discover lots of good reads.

Likewise, find out what programming your library plans throughout the school year and determine if you can fit it into your family’s schedule.

5. A Daily and Weekly Schedule

Have a plan for how you will spend your days. Determine when your days will start and end and what happens in between.

Please know that this takes finesse and a lot of tweaking. Kids and moms change from year to year. Perhaps you were a night owl last year, but this year you’ve become more of an early bird. Go with your strengths, keeping in mind what works best for your kids as well.

We’ll be talking more about how to craft a daily schedule next week. Start thinking now about what the ideal day looks like.

What “tools” are important to YOUR homeschool?

About this series – If you’re interested in getting started in homeschooling, this is a series recounting our experiences in teaching our children at home, the things that I’ve learned, and some resources I’ve discovered along the way. But this way isn’t the only way. Your mileage may vary. Coming up next time – A Homeschool Schedule

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  1. Thank you for this. I am getting all my links bookmarked and my plan going for preschool this year. We did it pretty non-structured last year, but I’d like to get serious this fall. 🙂

    LaVonne @ Long Wait For Isabella

  2. Thank you for all the great information! My husband and I are currently looking into whether home schooling would be the best avenue for us and where to get started. There is so much information available out there now, it’s a little overwhelming.

    My daughter is in her last year of preschool and my oldest son is still a year away from preschool, so we have a full year to look into what way of home schooling would work for us.

    Any particular books or other websites we need to check out?

  3. My most valuable tool is probably having a schedule. I’m a rather laid back “I’ll get to it eventually” person by nature. It helps keep me on track, and my kids do better when they know what to expect during the course of the day.
    I have a daily schedule, and the schedule of work for the year. We use Sonlight which has the year planned out by weeks for things like History, Science and Bible. Then I add other books we are using into the schedule. That way I’m not wondering if we are going to finish everything by the end of the year.

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