Getting Started with Homeschooling
Home education is ancient when compared with public schooling, a relatively new concept in our society introduced in the 1840s. Parents felt confident placing their children's educational lives into the hands of these institutions. In doing so, the school systems became an integral part of American life. In our day, our nation is reaping the devastating effects this educational philosophy is having upon our society. More and more, parents are recognizing this danger and resuming their responsibility to train their children. Once parents have committed themselves to home educate, it is essential that they learn how to proceed. Knowing our laws, selecting curriculum, and interacting with local school officials are areas that should be approached with wisdom and discretion.
Our web site will provide a good start on the road to successfully discharge your responsibility to educate your children.
"Lord, give us your wisdom, grace and guidance in our efforts to fulfill our responsibility!"
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
- Home School Legal Defense Association for their untiring help toward home educators, protecting parents rights and putting themselves out for our sakes.
- Sue Welch of Teaching Home Magazine for inspiring state home school organizations to realize the need to unselfishly help one another and work together.
- Mrs. Sharon Grimes of New York for motivating us to get started.
- Members of Jersey Shore Christian Home-Schoolers Association who, in 1989, invested those precious commodities of time, energy and talent to create and fund ENOCH with the vision of serving all home educators in New Jersey. Little did they know the fruit their labor would produce!
Do some homework
The following are suggested guidelines for you to consider when you take charge or your children's education. This great responsibility demands that parents understand exactly what homeschooling entails before they jump in with both feet. Some background research is essential, but most of all this is a spiritual decision that requires prayer and family unity to work. It is the Lord who builds the house. When deciding consider the following:
- Read books about homeschooling. See Recommended books
- Talk to others who homeschool. They are a fantastic resource for you and a steady stream of encouragement. Ask questions about curriculum choices, daily activities, successes and
failures, etc. They are generally open and willing to assist.
- Check out audio and video tapes on homeschooling topics. See Educational resources Several support groups around the state maintain tape lending libraries.
- Attend homeschooling support group meetings. Look for a support group in your area.
- Attend Co-op groups if there are any in your area. This is a great time for you and your children.
- Attend ENOCH's Annual Homeschooling Convention Equip yourself here by taking in workshops, and how-to classes. Consult
with vendors on new and used curriculum. Catch the vision of seasoned and experienced keynote speakers.
- See our Commonly asked Questions and Answers.
Investigate the Legalities
Each state has its own rules and regulations that affect home schools. These rules range from states requiring annual notification, testing, and oversight, to states where home schools operate as private schools and are thus virtually unregulated. It is essential that homeschooling families determine exactly what their state requires.
- Understand NJ law in regards to homeschooling
- Become a member of the Home School Legal Defense Association. Contact HSLDA for information about the legal status of homeschooling in NJ. It is important to be a member before making any potential moves with the public school system.
- Formally withdraw your children from the public school only if they are enrolled.
- It is not necessary in New Jersey to inform anyone of your intent to homeschool if your children are not currently enrolled in the school system. If they are, it is strongly recommended that you formally withdraw them by letter, phone, or in person. (Don't just disappear!) See our legal resources
for a sample letter of intent, a standard affidavit, and a Christian Affidavit.
Evaluate Your Family's Needs
Homeschooling allows the opportunity to make the school accommodate the family, rather than the other way around. To do this, families must take time to analyze and identify their specific characteristics and needs. Some of the things to be considered are:
- Is this the family's first year of homeschooling?
- Will there be more than one student and grade level?
- What are the students' learning styles?
- Is the teacher confident and experienced, or insecure and in need of guidance and assistance?
- Is there access to other resources (public or private school programs, museums, libraries, homeschool resource centers, etc.)?
- What is the family's budget for educational materials?
The Family Worksheet compiled by Debra Bell may help you to do this
Select a Curriculum
Once your family's characteristics and needs have been analyzed and identified, these should be used to guide you in acquiring a curriculum. For example, families desiring a strong measure of structure should consider curricula offering pre-planned lessons and a well-defined course of study, perhaps even considering enrolling in a satellite school offering ongoing
counseling and oversight. On the other hand, families desiring less structure might consider a unit study program or perhaps even developing their own curriculum from resources available at home and in the community. The purchase of a curriculum is one of the most important homeschooling decisions your family will make, so care should be taken to thoroughly investigate all the options available.
- Consult curriculum and educational materials catalogs and homeschool curriculum guides
- Mary Pride's Big Book of Home Learning
- Cathy Duffy's Christian Home Educators' Curriculum Manual
- See Educational resources for materials
- See Legal Resources for a sample curriculum outline
- Attend curriculum fairs and homeschool seminars.
- Most importantly, talk to other homeschooling families using a particular
curriculum for a first-hand evaluation
Plan the Paperwork
Once your curriculum decision has been made, the next step is to put that curriculum into action on a daily basis.
- Set goals for completion of school work. Decide which books, which chapters and pages, which special projects, etc.
- Establish a general schedule. A school year (which months and weeks), a school week (which days), a school day (which hours).
- Create lesson plans. Create plans which fit your school's work completion goals into the schedule you have established. Please note that schedules and lesson plans are tools, not masters. If your schedule isn't working out, change it. If an opportunity for a terrific field trip comes up which isn't in the lesson plan, find an eraser and fix the lesson plan. Don't be a slave to the lesson plan, especially since the whole point of homeschooling is to make the school fit the family, not the other way around.
- Establish a Record-Keeping System. Determine what records your school needs, based on the homeschooling program you have established, and keep them current. For example, if your school uses a graded system, then a grade book is necessary. Other types of records which might be considered are attendance records, medical and dental records, portfolios of student work, and student journals.
Now that your homeschool program is ready, create an environment conducive to learning.
- Prepare a place in your home to homeschool. Create a work area with good lighting, seating, ventilation, storage space, etc.
- Gather the necessary supplies to implement your homeschool program. Supplies include paper, pencils, notebooks, art supplies, etc.
- Realign your family's priorities. To be successful, homeschooling must come first!
- Allocate chores and other family responsibilities. Everyone needs to pitch in so mom isn't overloaded.
- Maintain discipline, for both parents and students.
In all the hubbub over curriculum, lesson plans, and registration, take care not to lose sight of the social element.
- Subscribe to the local homeschooling support group's newsletter, to stay informed on news and upcoming events.
- Consider teaming up with other homeschoolers in your area, for co-op classes, team teaching, group activities, field trips, etc.
- Take care not to over commit to extracurricular activities.
Points to Remember
- Be flexible. Don't get locked into doing things only one way, especially since that one way might not work out.
- Be Unique. Your family is unique, so your homeschool will also be unique. Don't worry if your homeschool doesn't look exactly like some other family's homeschool. Your family will need to make its own decisions and find its own solutions. Especially, don't feel like your homeschool has to look like the local public school.
- Be Available. Homeschooling is equivalent to at least a part-time (and perhaps even a full-time) job. So be prepared to sacrifice other activities on your schedule in order to have the time necessary to fulfill your homeschooling responsibilities. Homeschooling is not an "easy way out." It will not allow you to escape or even avoid family problems. However, it does provide the best opportunity for family members to spend quality time together so as to work to build a strong family.
- Be Blessed "Lord, give us your wisdom, grace and guidance in our efforts to fulfill our responsibility!"