There are a lot of things to think about when you decide to homeschool and here’s where we’ll start sorting them all out.
The first things to consider are your expectations. You have an idea in your mind when you think of the word “school.” What do you envision when you think of the word “homeschooling”? How different is your vision of “homeschooling” from your picture of “school”? Then there are the kids. If they are clued in to this consideration, you can be sure they have ideas too. How old are they? Have they been in school before? What do they think of when they hear the word “school” come out of someone’s mouth? All of these perceptions and preconceived notions come into play long before you actually get down to the nitty gritty details of homeschooling. Frankly, many of them won’t have anything to do with the reality of homeschooling either! (Ask me how I know that!) But seriously, before you get down to “doing school,” however that is defined in your mind and in your household, you really should do some prep work. Of course, you can’t always do that. Sometimes you don’t even know what you need before you begin. Other times, you think you know what you need and then everything changes. Then too, sometimes, especially when it is in the best interest of the child’s safety or health, you have to just begin where you are and figure things out as you go. It is a rare parent who has gone into homeschooling with a fully developed plan covering every aspect of the child’s education.
While you are chewing on everyone’s expectations, you need to think about some logistics. If your kids have already been to school, you have to consider how you are going to make the break from the school system. How do you do this? If there’s animosity between you and the school, you really ought to consider some sort of legal representation. Even though homeschooling is legal, things could possibly get ugly–and nobody needs that. If there has been trouble already and you are pulling your child from another school, look into HSLDA membership, even if just for a short while.
Even if your kids have never been to school or they have and the atmosphere was great but you have decided to homeschool anyway, you still have to know what legal requirements are involved and what compliance with those laws means. After that, it’s just a matter of meeting those things and getting on with the business of educating your kids. Go back to the fuller disclaimer page for information about that.
Of course, educating your kids isn’t all sunshine and roses! Oh no. It can be daunting. It can get messy. It can induce tears. When you are ready to run screaming for the hills–or just want to lock yourself in the bathroom–you really should have something handy that will help you remember why you wanted to do this in the first place. (BTDT!) This is where your philosophy of education comes into play. It’s highly unlikely that you will have one fully formulated when you first begin homeschooling, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work this out as you go.
A philosophy of education is just a fancy way of compiling what you believe about education. It often takes the form of a document but even if it’s just something you hold in your heart–a deep abiding sense of what’s right–that’s fine. Essentially, a philosophy of education is the set of principles that guide what you do for teaching and learning in your home. It both leads and guides. It helps you remember where you are going and why. It helps you plan how to get there too.