Getting Started ~ Part 1

About this time of year, I often get calls from parents who are brand new to home education. They need some basic information on how to get started… and how NOT to get overwhelmed!

With such a vast amount of information on the internet, it is so easy to get lost in the myriad of curriculum and resources that are available to those who choose this amazing path.

But like so many other things in life, I have found that keeping things simple typically brings the best results for our children, our family, our homes and for ourselves.

The first thing a new homeschooler will want to determine is which legal path to home education the family will choose. In California, there are several ways to home educate, but these are the most common and likely choices for the majority of families:

  1. As an independent homeschooler. In this scenario, you are basically declaring your home as a private school. You fill out a form and file it with the state. Learn more about the process here. Plus side: total freedom. Down side: no financial support from state-sponsored schools.
  2. As a charter school student. In California, there are a number of charter schools designed specifically to support home educators. Your student will be registered as a public school student and you will meet with your credentialed teacher about once a month. Plus side: most of these schools provide you with a funding budget that you can used for “approved vendors” for classes, supplies, curriculum, etc. (WLR is an approved vendor with a number of local charters.) Down side: your student will be required to participate in state-mandated testing and possibly other types of testing. You will likely need to provide a number of work samples to your teacher. Check with any charter you are considering and be sure to ask about the number of required work samples per semester and the amount of testing. They vary. You may want to ask other homeschoolers which schools they like and which teachers. You can usually request a preferred teacher. The teacher’s role is more as a support person to assist with getting materials, supplies and guidance – as little or as much, usually, as you prefer. After a few meetings you will know if the teacher is a good fit for your family. If not, you can request to change teachers.
  3. Register with a PSP (Private Satellite Program). This is similar to #2, except it is a private school entity and you pay for the services. Some offer this at a low price with minimal services; others will offer much more, or several options, and the price will go up accordingly. Be sure to check around, ask for references and compare programs. A private PSP with minimal services is basically taking care of the paperwork for you that you can do yourself if you choose #1, above.

If you are withdrawing your child from a traditional public or private school midyear, you will want to take a look at this information as well.

Once you have determine your chosen route, complete the necessary paperwork. Then take a deep breath and relax! Taking care of yourself is an important step on the homeschooling journey. Don’t feel like you have to do everything at once.

Next: Part 2 ~ “De-schooling”